up in our next issue
My mom says that I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil. Now, this does not make me a dedicated or even talented artist by any means. In fact, I go through many stints and stretches of having drawn nothing. But when I do draw, it is because I feel something deeply, whether it be in the present or from my past.
I grew up in post-communist Czechoslovakia, later to become the Czech Republic. I lived in a village built from the ground up by the older residents who had been placed there by the Nazis. Here I lived, on the outskirts of Plzen, nestled on a hillside at the edge of a dark forest. Naturally, my siblings and I ventured into these woods... Every folk tale and classic fantasy story like that of the ‘Vodnik’, Alice in Wonderland, Hansel and Gretel and Stoker’s Dracula came to life in this forest... shy hedgehogs and rabbits, poisonous mushrooms, never-lifting fog, mossy floors and murky ponds...magical and mysterious, maybe even haunted... such memories are what inspire my current drawings...
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK EVERYONE WHO HAS FURNISHED INFORMATION AND MATERIALS FOR THIS ISSUE. UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, ARTISTS FEATURE IN ART ELEMENTO RETAIN COPYRIGHT TO THEIR WORK. WE WILL BE PLEASED TO CORRECT ANY MISTAKES OR OMISSIONS IN OUR NEXT ISSUE. WE WELCOME EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS; HOWEVER, RETURN POSTAGE MUST ACCOMPANY ALL UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS, ART, DRAWINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIAL IF THEY ARE TO BE RETURNED. NO RESPONSIBLITY CAN BE ASSUMED FOR UNSOLICITED MATERIALS. ALL LETTERS WILL BE TREATED AS UNCONDITIONALLY ASSIGNED FOR PUBLICATION AND COPYRIGHT PURPOSES AND SUBJECTS TO ART ELEMENTO’S RIGHT TO EDIT AND COMMENT EDITORIALLY.
Don’t just make something for your peers. Build something that fixes insanity.
Welcome to AE seis Spring is here. The Earth is waking up. Spring always holds such promise of color, warmth and new beginnings. For this edition, we wanted to bring you that feeling of awakenings and anticipation. We have invited some of the first artists we featured before to display their much upgraded work again, and we have invited new ones to complete the balance. It is fulfilling and rewarding to think that we have created Art Elemento from the most basic elements in publishing into something whole. During the past year we have had the assistance of some amazing individuals. They helped us find content and thanks to them, we were able to put together other aspects of Art Elemento magazine that were unrelated to publishing it.
PRODUCED BY / Joe Wabe EDITORS/ Andrea Galvez, Lorryn Smit, Frank McKinley ART DIRECTOR/ Joe Wabe CONTRIBUTING WRITERS/ Matthew Rehrig, Daniel Luzio, Greg Lychak, Christina Green CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS/ Kevin Kilgore, Leroy Kucia, Wilfred Lee, Mark Eaton, Jen Lee, Jess Hinshaw MEDIA & DISTRIBUTION/ , Lorryn Smit, Matthew Rehrig ADVERTISING/ Joe Wabe PRINTING/ Alex J. Hwang WEBSITE/ artelemento.com EMAIL/ email@example.com SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL THE VENUES THAT HELP US DISTRIBUTE AE: The First Alley The Underground Grocers The German Bar Speakeasy GIC Center N.S.O.M Tattoo Bar Zeppellin Mix Lounge First Nepal
As I sit and think back, I cannot help but remember why we made this magazine to begin with. And even though, after I finish this issue, I’ll have to start again without truly tasting every element used to create it, I’m humbled by the way this project has taken off. Art Elemento is a complete and honest representation of what it is and of who we are. Enjoy issue 6 and take a moment to realize that you are what you make, not what you eat.
Cover design by Alfred Lee
artelemento 6 8 Leroy Kucia 10 GFC 12 Wilfred Lee 16 Mark Eaton 18 Fading Voices 21 The Hougues Unplugged 22 Jen Lee 24 Jess Hinshaw 26 Heungbu & Nolbu Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in articles are those of the author. All rights reserved on entire contents. Advertising inquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Leroy Kucia I believe that the most difficult aspect of being an artist is not the act of producing a body of work, but finding a market or creative outlet for which the work can either stand on its own, or successfully integrate itself into other media. This is really the hardest part of being an illustrator for me. Although I enjoy being an artist, I have come to realize that my work cannot evolve or have a sense of value unless it is directed towards a more defined objective.
In 2009 I began producing illustration work in Korea for The Gwangju News Magazine. They generously gave me creative freedom to explore compositional ideas, graphic design techniques and find the creative direction that I was looking for. I was a contributing Illustrator (2009 - 2011), producing a one page comic strip titled “Digby”. The comic strip was rather experimental. It was an opportunity for me to explore my craft as an illustrator and hopefully reach an audience through my work.
To say the least, it was not well received by the Gwangju community, and I didn’t acquire much of a fan base as a result. People either liked it, hated it, couldn’t understand it, or just wanted to kill the illustrator. However, this was an invaluable learning experience for me. I have come to realize that it is more difficult to illustrate for others than it is for yourself. After leaving the Gwangju News in August of 2011, I began pursuing creative opportunities in Seoul. 10 Magazine eventually took an interest in my work and I was
commissioned to produce editorial illustrations for their monthly article entitled “Happy Endings”. The articles are submissions that are sent to the magazine by foreigners living and working throughout Korea. Applying the design skills that I have gained while working on “Digby”, I illustrate these monthly articles, in order to create a satirical narrative that compliments the writer’s ideas. While I occasionally find illustrating these articles somewhat challenging, it is
artelemento very rewarding for me to work with an Art Director, in order to create a composition that meets the desired expectations of both the editor and writer alike. The end result is a piece of work that satisfies all of our interests. I have finally discovered a creative outlet for my work in Seoul, and I am reaching an audience on a larger scale. This is due in large part to the experience that I gained while working on The Gwangju News Magazine and Art Elemento. Thank you for extending me the opportunity to feature my work in your magazine, it is greatly appreciated.
I have come to realize that it is more difficult to illustrate for others than it is for yourself.
by Christina Greenw-
The Gwangju Photography Club has been an active group since 2010. Individually, we all love taking photographs and see artistic photo opportunities in the world around us. As a group, we share our love of photography and encourage each other. Our group is very dynamic. We meet monthly to go on photo outings together where we can practice new techniques in different environments. Most importantly we share our pictures online and give support and advice to one another.
Photo by Joe Wabew
artelemento The group was started by Christina Green who picked up a DSLR and started shooting at random. Soon, she found some friends interested in practicing together and decided to make a group to better their skills and meet new photo enthusiasts. Now, close to two years later, the group has grown to nearly 100 members. Collectively, the group has displayed one Photo Exposition held for over about a month at the GIC, been on numerous photo outings around the Jeollanamdo province and have been requested on many different occasions to photograph events for the a variety of media purposes. If a reader opens the Gwangju News, a local foreign magazine, he/she would most likely find an abundant of pictures from members of the Gwangju Photography Club. The monthly photo outings are a great way for the photography members to interact together, share camera advice and do what they do best…photograph! Each photo outing is located in different places and has no restrictions on what is to be captured. Previous photo outings that the group has shared together were at Damyang, the Jinju Lantern Festival, the Gwangju 70/80 Festival, Yangdong Market, Chosun overlook for night photography, and more.
Photo by Daniel Jurco
Along with the photo outings and online picture sharing, the Gwangju Photography club has a monthly photo theme. Each month, a theme is set into place and members are encouraged to participate by capturing a picture using the theme and posting it online. Themes vary widely and try to make the photographer think outside of the box and learn new and different angles and skills. The Gwangju Photography Club is always expanding and looking for new members and fresh ideas to make it even better. It really is a community for photo enthusiasts to come together and share in the Gwangju experience. Photo by Jaypee Agustin
Wilfred Lee Iâ€™m interested in how we express ourselves through one of the oldest (as well deceptively complex) forms of self-expression. Although technology continuously advances our means of communication and self-expression, and as our interaction with the world becomes intuitive there is always something refreshing about gliding a pencil on paper.
artelemento To me, drawing is 98% a mental activity. The other 2% is for the tool we use to try and tame the wild strands of chaos that separates ourselves from the paper. Drawing is a very intimate form of expression (as with all other art forms) that gives you a moment to meditate and collect your memories, thoughts, dreams, ideas, wishes and bind them with simple lines; making a connection with this other frequency of Life that we pull into the fabric of reality, that at once did not exist for just a moment and now has fully manifested itself as an offering to the rest of the world.
To me, drawing is 98% a mental activity. The other 2% is for the tool we use to try and tame the wild strands of chaos that separates ourselves from the paper.
It’s quite a mysterious thing. With Caricature I view it as the act of visually representing the psychological homunculus we possess that grows and evolves, based on one’s distinct use of the six senses of the body. How the homunculus reacts to the external world by finding any means to represent itself as any materialistic and physical means. It’s through the act of drawing, that one may find this ‘essence’ that makes a person distinct from others, yet familiar. And to exaggerate it is to expose one’s true identity and reveal more than what can be seen at first glance.
Wilfred Lee is an artist originally from Toronto, Canada who’s been living in Korea for the past 4 years working in various art fields such as fine art, caricature and live art performances. He currently works as a concept designer and on his free time performs comedy, teaches art, caricature, and does commissions as well personal lessons on how to use photoshop. You can see more of his work at:www. wilfred-lee.blogspot.com He also has a facebook group ‘Artist’s Journey’, sharing art related topics and inspirational artwork from all over the world. You can find the group page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ artistsjourney/ Also check out his ustream channel for tutorials and interviews with inspirational artists in Korea and beyond. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/artists-journey
The interest is in the irony and conflict and beauty of life. What is perceived reality is not always so upon closer inspection and introspection. The routine and commonplace, while too often overlooked, is often the source of beauty and that is meaningful. As in dreams, there is color or there is a shade of gray that defies description while simultaneously it defines a life lived. There is pain, yet there is joy also.
The complexity of life can be overwhelming and numbing. The collection of accolades such as certificates, diplomas, awards, medals, and other seeming man made trinkets often fade as the clock of life nears its time to chime the arrival of midnight -- the day’s end, figurative, the end of life, literal. Too, the collection of disdain and contempt that weighs too heavily upon the character and the soul fades at the midnight hour. As life’s last breath is exhaled, it is history. All of it is his-
tory, judged to be ill or judged to be well by those who view another’s reality using a different life’s template. Rather than run from the inevitability of drawing that last breath, consciously or no -- desired or no, facing the dark of night brings a focus to the present that brings direction to what remains of life. Of lessons learned, it is essential to breakdown, to compartmentalize, to see, and to experience what existence is on a personal
level. Rid the clutter and the distractions of everyday living. Eliminate the background noise of the circus barker. The permutations of varied relationships focused, simply, with love, trust, and honesty as the benchmarks. Those who will only give disdain and contempt disguised as friendship and concern, rid. Time is too short and too precious, have a nice journey. On the other hand, those who give honestly and openly, love, welcomed with a warm and heartfelt embrace.
artelemento So, too, art. So easy to distract the unfocused. So easy to arouse the unfocused with gimmicks and gadgets that disappear tomorrow after today’s high. Disappointment abounds as the stimulants needed to thrill again and again finally reaches the apex; there isn’t another high, there isn’t another thrill to experience. There is only the downward slope and the crash. The culture of flash and crash. It needn’t be, however, when one becomes focused as the coming night approaches. The beauty that is the result of love and friendship waxes strong as the flash of the gimmick and of the gadget wanes. Line, perspective, pattern, texture: the elements of design. Art at its most basic, and at its most beautiful. It is irony that while the gigantic and monstrosity impresses, or frightens, with its enormity, it all begins with a dream, an idea, then a line followed by more to eventually become the behemoth that swallows all. And to perceive it and to experience it, it must be taken apart bit by bit to its origins. To perceive and visualize the whole, however, the essence must be seen. As in the dreams come slumber, with color or with the shade of gray that colors reality perceived. Heard are the cacophonous calls, yet listening to the whispered pleadings and stories is the life of art.
Line, perspective, pattern, texture: the elements of design. Art at its most basic, and at its most beautiful.
by Greg Laychak
Fading Voices started out as a straight-forward documentary project to explore a long contentious issue in East Asia. I’d gained access to the 11 remaining sexual slavery victim-survivors of colonial Japan in Kyeongsangbuk-do, and I wanted to tell their stories. But as I researched the topic and met with the women, I realized the story that interested me wasn’t the usual one most often splashed on headlines, or talked about in activist circles. The real story was about those media and activist organizations creating the public rhetoric themselves. Or, more specifically, how the women fit within those groups’ strategies, and in the larger Korean societal context.
artelemento These revelations helped shape the project as I met with and documented the women over the period of a year. My final edits for exhibitions turned into sad, empty collections with muted colors, no faces and symbolism instead of my usual journalistic style photos. In the end, I had a series of pictures that explored the themes of the women as they were living today: memory, theatre, disability, and death. I wanted to avoid previous works’ presentations of portraits and protest pictures, and instead convey the mood of the victim-survivors’ lives.
A history of the issue as it applies to my project: There is no doubt the mass recruitment of sexual labor across the AsianPacific was a war atrocity that should be apologized and compensated for. Recognized and debated since the early ‘90s, the issue’s only deniers are a small pocket of Japanese right-wingers still intent on making a resolution difficult. However, I think Koreans have unintentionally contributed to the stall in reparations. In South Korea, there is only finger-pointing on a national scale when it comes to anything Japanese. Certainly the cause has made great gains: the Asian Women’s Fund; the adoption of laws that deem a Korean government passive on the issue constitutionally illegal; the pursuit of legal changes in the Japanese Diet; and significant international recognition. One problem, though, is the 1965 treaty that was signed by both Korea and Japan. It leaves South Korea in a weak spot for negotiations with Japan, as the latter can argue that differences were settled over 50 years ago. Furthermore, POSCO and other fundamental infrastructure projects were built from this Japanese money, without the knowledge of the South Korean people. This was money originally intended to go
photos by Greg Laychak
to individuals who suffered under colonial rule as outlined in the treaty. At the time of the treaty, “comfort women” were not recognized by either nation as a subset of forced labor. And that is why in my photo essay, there are no distinct faces, save one (Yi Yong Su who is aware of the politics and engages on her own terms). I feel that the women have never been fairly represented in their own country, or by their own country. As young, poor women, many were recruited by Korean collaborators or sold by their families. Upon returning from their horrible experiences as sexual slaves, they dared not speak of their roles in the Imperial Army for fear of shame dominating their daily lives. Even today, with a nationalist-activist machine huddled around the victimsurvivors claiming to help them, their individual identities are lost in collective nationalist memory. A layered blend of seven portraits I took of the survivors represents this sad state.
An unfortunate mix of corruption, cultural factors and decades of undemocratic rule have stunted domestic reconciliation, which I believe makes it hard for South Koreans to squeeze a satisfactory apology from the Japanese government. Remnants of gender roles and biases half a century old that helped create the organization of large scale sexual slavery can still be seen in modern South Korea. The South Korean media isn’t helping create any progress in pointing out the history of Korean involvement. While a committee formed under Roh Moo-Hyun somewhat successfully repossessed pro-Japanese collaborator property from descendants, popular news sources instead focus on the protests of the victim-survivors and activists in front of the Japanese embassy. These stories have become media ritual, with hordes of photojournalists and TV crews surrounding the patient women on anniversaries and national
holidays. Viewers are inundated with the idea that blaming Japan is more important than dealing with Korea’s own history of involvement. And despite claims from many Korean columnists that successful chaebol companies caught their break with later economic reforms (instead of by collaborating) the truth is 60 percent of the existing capitalist class continued to operate after the transition from Japanese power. Syngman Rhee and other implicated officials stopped attempts to investigate pro-Japan culprits soon after they started in 1948. Perhaps that was the beginning of the end for internal recognition and reparations. If South Korea is to set an example for Japan, they have to stop playing the victim card, recognizing and emphasizing their own historic roles in the problem. Otherwise, the current shouting match of blame will go on indefinitely.
The Hogues Unplugged by Adam Hogue
The summer soundtrack was always Eric Clapton’s unplugged on side A and Shawn Colvin on side B. We would play the taped disc while winding our way through the back highways running parallel to 95 northward. Nonstop flipping of that cassette. I still know every nuance of those albums, right down to the song where Eric messes up in the intro and mumbles “ranaranarana” to laughter and applause. That and NPR will always be my memories of summer. My dad shushing everyone in the car and turning up the droning monotone of those familiar NPR voices. Almost mumbling in a chant about the most obscure topics. My family used to take these long hikes each summer. I suppose looking back they weren’t that long, maybe 1,000 feet or so up some mountains in Maine. They used to put me and my sister into the car and take us out into the woods just to hike. To sweat, to feel the bite of the mosquitoes, to have to wait until we got home to poop. Every summer consisted of these hikes. Both my mom and dad are teachers, so our Junes, Julys and Augusts were spent up in the woods in Maine. On a lake in a small cabin. No electricity, no plumbing. My sister especially hated these hikes. She would drag her feet and pout and complain; to a comedic level. Over the top. She would sigh and sit on rocks. She would kick things and refuse to go on. Even the summers of her back surgery, there we were trooping up the
mountain, Amy grumbling in her full body brace. Relentless. I remember in those young years it was like a chore. Sure the view was nice, but everything else really sucked. The sweating, Amy’s incessant and melodramatic complaining. It took us forever. By the time we were actually ascending the mountain we were usually spaced out considerably. Like we didn’t even come to the mountain together. I would usually go fast up ahead, as if by running the mountain as fast as I could, I would lessen the pain of the journey. I would just blink through the hard part. I was also very selfconscious about some weight in those years that seemed to spring suddenly upon me in fourth grade. Hiking the mountain was torture, but it would also make me formidable for all the ladies back in Rhode Island. I knew it was necessary, so I would keep a steady place, rest while everyone was behind and not able to see me, before continuing on. Amy would be in the back. Grumbling, body cast keeping her erect. She would have my parents fighting over who would stay behind with her and push her up the hill. Who would listen to Amy? Who would push her like a boulder up the mountain like Sisyphus, knowing she would come back down before the end of the day? By the time we neared the crest of the mountains, we were always just breathing and spaced out; my parents tired of pushing Amy, Amy livid with
the seemingly pointless and ludicrous task of hiking a mountain and being outside and myself, hoping that I would emerge from the hike flab-less. But then we would be on the top and it would all be worth it. Every time, never fail. The accomplishment was always instantly worth it. Except maybe for Amy. Our family would convene at the top. Still not saying much, but there was never a need to talk too much on a mountain. We would just look and now and again point out landmarks we knew. “There’s the road.” “Our camps just behind that hill.” Orientation never gets old and since man started to map his surroundings we always have wanted to know where we are. Maybe it’s the conquistador in all of us. Indeed, I would often have imaginary games with myself, that I was a union army scout (I was obsessed with the Civil War) picking off confederates and natives who were threatening the advance of Lincoln’s army. As a Korean friend once noted to me while hiking in Korea, “Americans always want to know where north is, why?” So there we were, each summer, on top of the world. Over the years, hiking became a favorite past-time of mine and not surprisingly, one of my sister’s least favorite activities. Now when I visit the camp we’ll hike and Amy always declines the invitation. I suppose we pushed her to hate it. She’s done her time. Sometimes when I am driving in the warm weather with the windows down, I hear Eric Clapton tuning his acoustic guitar. Reminding me of those perfect days of summer. Just me and my family, unplugged. Eccentric and determined to reach the top of the world, even if it’s just for the afternoon.
Though she has been drawing ever since she could first pick up a pencil, Jen hardly considers herself an artist. With her dreams set on someday breaking into the world of video games, comic books, and cartoons, she is on a constant mission to improve and learn everything she can for the sake of shaping those goals into reality. Jen is currently working as a freelance illustrator, producing book covers, tshirt designs, and practically anything else she can challenge herself with. She frequently draws inspiration from life, love, and, most important of all, music. Her ambitions stem from a personal and somewhat selfish desire to bring a little more humor and hope into the world, and someday possibly be a source of inspiration for another that may be striving to reach similar goals. During her free time, when she isn’t sketching random pretty girls, Jen enjoys cooking, sleeping, and losing herself in a good movie or video game. Still a child at heart, she is known to often drift off into her own imagination, taking frequent breaks to watch cartoons and eat sugary cereals. www.jen-lee.com
She is a 24 year old Korean-American who curre Better known as the creator of “Dear Korea”, a hu as an expat, she can also be recognized as the vo KOREA” on GFN’s “City of Light”.
ently resides in Gwangju. umorous comic about life oice behind â€œSpotlight on
She frequently draws inspiration from life, love, and, most important of all, music.
Jess Hinshaw Our familiarity and allegiance to brands inevitably results in our being manipulated and taken advantage of. The baffling way we â€œidentifyâ€? with a brand allows that company to mold and shape us to be proper consumers, and to a larger degree puppets. Money is at the root of it all, perpetuated by our programmed propensity to consume and their insatiable desire for more. Their product, of course, is delivered in a nice clean package, albeit a dangerous one.
Money is at the root of it all...
Jess Hinshaw is an artist from Atlanta, Georgia. He currently lives in Daegu and is the co-founder of Art Beans, an art collective that focuses on helping artists grow artistically and fostering community involvement in the arts. The group has already hosted 4 exhibitions, and are currently talking with Daegu Art Museum about a series of art classes and lectures. Apart from the group, Jess currently does a lot of screen printing, balancing his efforts between work that is critical of media and more indulgent video game prints. You can check out his work at www. projectionprinting.com, and you can contact him at projection@gmail or through facebook.
26 by Daniel Luzio
Heungbu and Nolbu
Some say this is a country founded on Buddhism. The stories regale us with Buddhist morals. Most say this is a country grounded on Confucianism. Twisted and embedded into language and society, it’s hard to escape even today. Either way, this is the country of Heungbu and Nolbu – a testament to the attitudes and conflicts of this country for many centuries. But Heungbu and Nolbu are no longer reflective of this fast developing country that’s barely pulled its socks up in the race of economies, and yet has still managed to poke its nose into the leading pack’s wake. Heungbu was a studious lad. Somewhere in the middle of his elementary school career, he worked hard and got noticed by his teachers. A model student he was called. A mother’s pride, his teachers exclaimed. And the city council were happy to help him and his brother out to get into an English camp that winter. Nervous, he was, as this would be a camp that needed a level test to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Open to everyone, regardless of their English level, he wanted to be the best. The test was 90 minutes. He knew someone whose dad worked for the city. That kid’d be in the high levels, surely. How many other kids would be the same? How many actual positions would there be in the top ranks for someone like him, outside of the system, with the actual skill to play the game, but pushed out by those who ran the game? He studied. He didn’t know what to study, he just studied. It was his vacation, but that just meant studying without going to school; without the hassle of snatched moments of study on the bus, disrupted by the big kids; without the teachers interrupting his learning by droning on or focusing learning through art or presentations to demonstrate comprehension; without breaks, where he’d be left alone, think-
ing about what he’d studied through the day. His was a world where the book was the king. The teacher only emphasised the book, and in that respect alone was the teacher correct and to be looked up to, only when the teacher personified the book. And then it was the day of the test. Really nervous, he was. Maybe 200 students were here? He didn’t know if ranking was important today, but knew he needed to score well enough to beat the officials’ sons and daughters to get into that top grade. That was all he needed. Two days later the camp started, and after all the hoo-hah of the opening ceremonies, he was guided to his class. He wasn’t the top level, but the mid-level. After a few days, he began to know the others outside of his class in the dorms at night. Many students were the offspring of farmers, restaurant owners, store workers. Many were of a low level of English, even the kids at the same level as him. Some were in the high levels, but had a good sense of English. True, there were a handful of kids whose parents were officials, but this hadn’t affected their place in the camp, other than what the kids themselves demanded of their status. These officials’ kids were in the same level as him, or below. Only one was in
the high levels. He had strong English. Over this first week, the fury of his placement dissipated, and he began to accept his own level of English. Those who were in higher levels deserved to be there. He himself was young, and perhaps could have done it, but he was already the youngest kid in his class. The higher classes would be even older than him. And they were motivated, dedicated, and desperate to get away from the limitations of the countryside, a need that had not sunk into his young self. He focused in on his own classes; became accepted as the youngest, and supported, not jeered at by his peers; gained the respect of his teacher as the strongest, most willing in the class; put aside the books when the teachers demanded, but was still every day, challenged, still everyday learning more than he had at school. He accepted his position, knowing that he was gaining, and that ranking was no longer enough. He was now only in competition with himself to improve his daily test scores, and didn’t worry whether anyone else was doing better or worse than he. Dear old Nolbu, the older brother, still in elementary school, looking forward to getting to middle school, which
artelemento would show clear and easy distinctions between him and Heungbu. Yet still so young, and so surprising that he should already be so defeated. He too was being assisted with the fee to go to English camp, but he wasn’t so interested. He’d seen the freedom of the Americans in the movies. Vacations were a time of relaxation. He resented the continual education. He just wanted to be himself. At home, this was easy, he had his position. In school, in his class, he was defined only by his ranking, his teachers looking to him through his younger brother. He had dreams of escape, but knew this to not be possible – the system was too strong. He just needed to play the system by fitting in, and doing the best he could under its restrictions. He wasn’t a stupid kid, he just needed extra help, which under the system, he wasn’t able to ask for. Lack of comprehension grew into boredom. He wasn’t apathetic, not yet. He just didn’t quite understand: that one bridge not having been developed. Like all bridges, ultimately they need to be built from both sides, but he was doing it solo. He always did his homework, but it was perfunctory. He did the minimum possible, because he wanted to stay within his safety zone. But even this was never enough. He didn’t go into the test with a good attitude. He could have told everyone what level he would have ended up in. Anyone could have predicted that. The test was needless. Just put him low. 90 minutes to sort this out was too much of anyone’s time. However, he tried, he didn’t give up. Predictably it was all too hard. A handful of questions were answered, a few of those were probably even correct. He certainly wasn’t the youngest kid. Most of them were his age. There were a couple of younger kids, one who should have been in the 1st grade class, but had English enough to put him in with the general mob of the beginner level English classes. None of them
were rebels, but the foreign teachers spoke too fast. As a class, they quickly learned to ask to go to the bathroom, or state they were sick, hoping that this level of English for them would impress the teachers. It didn’t work. They weren’t bored, but they were difficult for the teachers to control. They got a lot of games, and videos which would engage them for a few minutes, but quickly they needed something else, restlessness getting them through the remainder of the activity.
The distinctions between Heungbu and Nolbu have been blurred, because the hard working, younger brother, is not rewarded, but learns to accept his position as well as himself. The older, lazier brother gets his due reward, but also gains something. Because this is a new Korea, there needs to be a new element – the figurehead of the system in this story is the mother. Why? Because this is based on something I personally experienced, and this is what the mother did to inspire this story:
They did learn English, but only with the assistance of Korean teachers. The vocabulary they learnt may be picked up in the speech of the foreigners, but that was all – the words too random to understand the context, and used too rarely to benefit their learning of English. Immersion was too far out of their depths, and not used enough to give them any benefit. They resented it when the foreigners used Korean.
The first weekend of the three week camp, and the students got to go home, go to church, and to meet their families for a couple of hours. This would have been the first contact the mother would have had with them for a week. But she must have discovered here what levels her sons were in. Perhaps the issue of word tests came up, because it was to be an issue she would use. The brothers returned to the camp. And the mother makes a phone call to those in charge.
However, what he did learn, he was able to apply. These teachers weren’t so strict. He even managed to get reward stickers for the work he did put in, without begging for them. He made mistakes, but they were corrected, and he was told about them, instead of meaningless red circles, crosses and corrections. His level may not have gone up, but his confidence did. He began a new bridge between the English trapped in his mind and his mouth, traffic in the form of English may have been stilted with many jams and poor signalling in between, but it was a bridge that he could build alone, just because someone on the other end was receiving. Not that the system cared. And now the mother. A new element in this classic parable that updates it to the standard protagonist-antagonist narrative drama we deal with today.
It isn’t correct that her sons should be in different levels, that her eldest should be of a lower level than her youngest. But she’s not concerned with getting her eldest upgraded, knowing his limitations. She conspires to bring Heungbu down a level, in order to even her two sons up. If her youngest son is so bright, then being at the level of his oldest brother should be good enough for him. She uses the excuse that Heungbu is clearly not suited to his level as he gets a couple of words wrong on his daily tests. Perhaps this way, he can start to get the A+s she wants from him – a nice back handed compliment, dragging him down to make him shine more. There is resistance, but she is persistent. The story doesn’t finish here. Parables don’t deal with drama, so our antagonist is to be dealt with only in the real world. But for Heungbu and Nolbu, this is their story updated, unknowing of the drama they involuntarily created.
MassKara This past March 10, the international group of volunteers Mannam put together a unique international celebration of the vibrant Italian tradition style “carnevale” and named it “Masskara”. It was a time for people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities to come together and enjoy the festivity. Many children and adults alike took part in various games and experienced the rich Italian culture through music and performances by locals and foreigners. Top quality entertainment was provided, including carnival models, face painting, open mic stage performances and much more. Mannan is a non-religious/ political/profit organization of volunteers focused on expatriates who live in Gwangju, providing the opportunity for them to experience Korea, as well as to make a difference in Korean society. If you would like to be part of this group join the facebook group: MannamGwangju.
The Ju Flea Market II The first JU flea market was held on Saturday March. 24th at the Kunsthalle (Asian Cultural Center) in downtown. The turnout was stellar for the first of many markets to happen in our fair city of Gwangju. There were 20 vendors selling their goodâ€™s. There was gourmet coffees, chilli, kebaps, baked good , and that was just the food stands. Things were being sold from baby cloths to books, games to guitars. The turnout for customers was about what was to be expected as the weather cleared up. So what does this mean for the next JU? That just means it can only get better. With more spots open for sellers and more people knowing about it, *wink wink* we know we will see you there. So please stay tuned for the JU-3, listen on GFN radio and also watch for all the invites on Facebook. We hope to see you at the next one.
by Matthew Rehrig