Korea’s traditional markets: A colorful kaleidoscope


Whit and I had a wonderful Saturday. We just returned from a trip with a Gwangju amateur photography club, where we took a bus to a traditional market, a beautiful temple and some green tea fields near Wolchusan, a beautiful mountain we hiked last fall.

But I don’t want to bore with you details. Especially when the plain and simple facts of the day are much more entertaining.
So, without further ado, here are a few facts from our day:
    • We visited a rural traditional market. Not only was it vibrant and colorful, but the people were open, friendly and warm.
    • So warm and friendly that we were spotted by a KBS (the major broadcasting station where Whit and I have been featured before) reporter and interviewed about our thoughts on the market (“please use more motions” says the interviewer, prodding Whit to act more animated a.k.a. cheesy for the camera). “Now walk and try from vendors,” he said. We feigned over-exaggerated amazement at the kimchi and strange spicy puddings. Video of broadcast to be posted next Wednesday after it airs.
                      Whit (who insists I left him high and dry on more than one occasion today) was invited up to a stage where a middle-aged Korean man was entertaining a crowd of ajumma (old permed Korean women) with songs and dance. Through our co-teacher and friend Ha-Young, he interviewed Whit, making jokes about him and then somehow talking him into singing karaoke for the crowd of at least 100 people. Which he did to the sporadic clapping and straight faces of the ajumma. He was awarded with three pairs of traditional Korean rope shoes, none of which fit his Western feet. The second pair is for me and the third is for our future children, says the kind man on stage.

                    • We visited a temple where children followed us around and let us take their photos.
                    • We walked peacefully through green tea fields with beautiful mountain vistas until we were asked by a a group member with a very large lens (the largest I have ever seen, including newspaper photographers’ lenses) to please walk to the middle of the field. Please hug. And then, from the mouths of Koreans who we thought did not speak English, “KISS! KISS! KISS!!” We obliged. Cheesy photos to be e-mailed to us sometime this week.

                  To some of you, our day might sound a little torturous. But not to us. On the crowded bus ride home when we stood swaying back and forth to the rhythms of the bus, we couldn’t help but be sad that one day we will leave this strange wonderful colorful kaleidoscope of a country that is Korea.

                  2 thoughts on “Korea’s traditional markets: A colorful kaleidoscope

                  1. Michael says:

                    When you do leave Korea and are back here in the Good Ole USA, at least we now know that Whit can spice things up for us with a little Karaoke. Love the picture of Whit on one knee with his hand out. Awesome.


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