Thanksgiving updates from the land of the morning calm

It’s October 10th, 2011.

Fellow Canadians will realize that today is Thanksgiving day in Canada. Unfortunately I have to work. I would say something, but I’ve had so many days off recently I don’t think they would be very keen to give me any more. Oh, and they don’t speak English.

Last night I treated myself to what passes for a fancy dinner here in South Korea. I’m talking, of course, about Outback Steakhouse. A spicy seafood and chicken pasta dish isn’t exactly a traditional Thanksgiving meal… but this year isn’t really about sticking with tradition for me.

Last weekend was a blast. Friday night I went on a cultural tour hosted by the Busan Metropolitan Office of Education. Basically they rounded up 70 native English teachers, such as myself, and their Korean co-teachers and put them on a bus to Jinju, South Korea to experience the annual Jinju Lantern Festival. Jinju is a small town about 2 hours drive from Busan. I’m going to relate a bit about the history of Jinju and the Lantern Festival –> I want you to be extremely skeptical beacuse this account of the festival may be absolutely loaded with inaccuracies, primarily because our tour was in Korean and I’m relying on my co-teacher’s sometimes dubious translations. The idea is that around 1592 the Japanese invaded Korea. The town of Jinju and, more specifically, the castle on the river in Jinju, refused to surrender and the Japanese laid siege to the walls. Eventually the castle fell and many, many Koreans were killed.

The lantern aspect came about (I believe) during the siege as Korean soldiers would write down lists of needed supplies or messages to loved ones and float the messages down the river in lanterns. Today, people float lanterns down the river once a year in memory of the Korean defenders.

Today, that means hundreds of huge lanterns (think parade float size) sitting on the river on small barges. During the evening they are illuminated: and let me tell you that seeing hundreds of giant lanterns made up of shapes ranging from ‘The Little Mermaid’ to Santa Claus is truly something to behold. There was even a Batman lantern (naturally, I scored an awesome photo that should be up on Facebook by now) and a giant dragon that actually breathed fire. Really cool.

The rest of the weekend was spent uneventfully relaxing, except for a short hike in Igidae Park on Saturday morning. Sunday afternoon I headed to one of my favorite Korean towns, Gyeongju, for two games of Ultimate. Busan Gang Green is a force to be reckoned with this season and we won both our games (keeping our undefeated streak alive, for now). One of the best highlights of the day was when a player from a Daegu team faked an injury towards the end of one of his games. People crowded around to make sure he was okay. When his girlfriend got to him he abandoned his ruse in favor of proposing to her. Predictably, she said yes, and they hugged and kissed as the crowd cheered wildly. It was really awesome to witness.

I scored 4 points after that, but no one seemed to care. Thanks, Mister I’m-going-to-steal-Tom’s-thunder-by-proposing-to-my-girfriend. What an asshole.

I kid.

There isn’t much more to relate at the moment. Next weekend I’m involved in a photo scavenger hunt (I’m on a team called the Super Hot Individuals That Scavenge – I’ll let you puzzle out the acronym) and I have two more Ultimate games, this time in Daegu. It should be alot of fun and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m also getting all wound up for my Dad’s impending visit, which is happening in 3 short weeks. Jeez… I better start cleaning up my apartment.

Since I have nothing going on tonight I’ve decided to work on editing and uploading some of the video I’ve shot in Jeju and the lantern festival. Hopefully that will be uploaded by the time you are reading this blog… but no promises.

That’s all for now.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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About bnbnower

A recent graduate of Carleton University, set adrift into the real world with no tangible goals or properly defined aspirations, I decided to set off for South Korea where I am teaching English as a second language. In my spare time I read, rock-climb, play frisbee and watch movies and television.
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