Wherefore art thou Romeo? In Korea.

Hello, my friends. Lindsay here, squatting here at the computer after school on Monday while procrastinating about an afternoon trail run. It just looks cloudy out there. And tiresome. And I hate sixth graders. And my tummy hurts, probably from just looking at the strange pig’s blood thingies that Whit ate AGAIN for lunch today. Seriously. People. I think he has a problem.

Oh, and I have to tell you about our weekend.

Our wonderfully fun Korean friend June offered to take us to Namwon yesterday, the City of Love, as it is known here in Korea.

I have been hearing quite a bit about this fabled Korean love story so Whit and I were quick to accept June’s invitation. Have I told you about June? She is a violin teacher at our school. And unlike most of the English-speaking teachers at our school, she talks to us. We like her a lot. She is always giving us tickets to violin and cello concerts. So after the last one, we offered to take her to dinner.

She picked the City of Love as our dinner destination.

It was great. We headed out on the most perfect of Sunday afternoons–a Mediterranean blue cloudless sky, fresh air, and warm temperatures. It was a heavenly day. And we got to ride in her car to this city just an hour away from Gwangju. Does that sound funny–we got to ride in a car!?? Well. It’s a big deal when you don’t own one anymore and the only time you do ride in one is in a taxi and well you’re usually too busy praying for your life to enjoy it.

Riding in the car with June with easy banter and laughter made us feel like we were at home with a good friend.

In Namwon, we met her friend who wanted to join us, a 35-year-old doctor. I wish I could tell you his name. But I couldn’t pronounce it, much less remember it to regurgitate to you.

We really had such a wonderful time. We played traditional Korean games, strolled over beautiful stone bridges, sat beneath the shade of pagodas, frolicked through fountains, and read the love story of Korean’s own Romeo and Juliet, the story of Sung Chun-hyang and Lee Mong-ryong.

There is some slight differences from the couple of Fair Verona. The Korean lovers lived happily ever after in this story, which, as Whit will tell you, makes for a proper ending in my book.

In this tale set in 18th century Namwon, Chun-hyang, the daughter of a retired courtesan, and Mong-ryong, the son of a local governor, got married secretly after a secret courtship with Mong-ryong painting his pledge of love in ink on her.

They soon become separated, however, as Mong-ryong goes to Seoul, then called Hanyang, following his parents. Meanwhile, a corrupt local magistrate propositions Chun-hyang. She refuses and is faced with torture and death, but is rescued at the last minute by Mong-ryong who returned in his new role as a secret royal inspector.

A classic example of a Joseon Dynasty-style traditional garden, Gwanghallu garden in Namwon is where Chun-hyang and Mong-ryong first met to exchange their vows of love.

Just like Juliet’s balcony, the Gwanghallu pavilion and surrounding garden located in the urban district of Namwon is geared to offering love-struck couples room for romance and a reminder that old William was right: For never was a story of more woe than that of Juliet and her Romeo.

One thought on “Wherefore art thou Romeo? In Korea.

  1. Brittany says:

    I love the Korean version of Romeo and Juliet especially the ending. The Shakespearean version was always a bit too depressing for me.P.S. Linds- you are looking super cute in the fountain shot. Very modelesque.

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