Friday, July 19, 2013

11 month update

Eleven months have passed since I first arrived in Korea!! While having dinner with friends earlier I mentioned that this would be the time when I'd be panicking and rushing to do and see everything before my time in Korea ends, but since I have made the decision to stay I feel really calm and at ease, specially since none of my close friends are leaving either.

Today I renewed my visa, and completed everything that's required for me to stay a second year. Nowadays, I find myself preparing for the two week Summer English camp that's coming up, trying to stay cool in this crazy hot weather, and daydreaming about my vacation to Japan that's also coming up. Life is good, honestly, I feel very settled and at home here. My school is wonderful, nobody really bothers me, which at first felt lonely, but hearing horror stories from friends or other people online, makes me really thankful that my school staff pretty much leaves me alone as long as show up and do what I'm supposed to.

I haven't been going out as much lately for crazy weekend nights, I feel like I've experienced Seoul nightlife enough to where I feel completely comfortable staying in and hanging out watching movies with friends, or even hanging out alone at my apartment. I've slacked off on my Korean classes, but I'm looking forward to starting that up again once camp and vacation are over with.

I'm just really content with everything in my life now, the only thing that would make it perfect would be seeing my family, but that's just once again me wanting to have my cake and eating it too.

Monday, July 15, 2013

2013 R16 B-Boy World Championships

The 2013 R16 World B-Boy Masters Championship was held on July 13 & 14 at Seoul's Olympic Park complex; sponsored in a large part by the Korean Tourism Organization, KTO Supporters were offered tickets to attend both days or only one. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the second day, but I ended up having a great time despite the downpour of rain on the way to the event. The KTO was kind enough to give me three tickets, one for myself and for two friends. My friends and I arrived at Olympic Station just as the heavy rain started in so we were not able to browse the tents and "markets" that were set up, instead we picked up our VIP tickets and headed inside. 
The venue was really comfortable, we had pretty good seats, but with the layout I imagine there wasn't really a "bad seat" in the house. There was also a standing section, but the event lasted roughly four hours, so I'm glad I had a seat. This year's competition was MC'd by MC GO, and MC Snipa, and they did a very good job keeping the crowd energized in both English, and Korean, which was really appreciated it.

On Sunday, it was the day for the crews to battle it out. The event started out with crews from countries like Japan, USA, Russia and of course the host country, Korea, taking the stage individually and showing some amazing skill. After the crews performed, it was time for the crew vs crew battles.  At this time the crews had the opportunity to not only show their talents as a team, but individuals in the crews were able to have their moment in the spotlight. My favorites were Taiwan, and Russia. They seemed to really have a lot of fun, and were engaging with the crowd. As good as everybody was, there could only be one winner, the last two teams standing were Japan- Body Carnival, and Korea- Morning of Owl. Second place was Japan and they were awarded a check for $5,000 and first place was Korea, and they were awarded a check for $15,000. 

After the contest, came what I think a lot of people were waiting for.. a hip hop performance! The lineup consisted of Dok2, Beenzino, Jay Park & Korea Assassins. The first ones to take the stage were Dok2 and Beenzino, I'm not very familiar with them, but it was something new and good to listen to, second Jay Park took the stage and he was a hit from the start. As soon as he came on stage he was jumping around, being super energetic and getting the crowd pumped up. The event finished off with Korea Assassins, a local b-boy crew, who were joined halfway through their sets by two 6 year old b-girls from Europe. 

My overall opinion of this event is really good, definitely a new experience for me but something I enjoyed and will have fun talking about with my friends. It did seem to go on for a long time though, we were in the venue from 6:00 p.m. to a little after 10:00 p.m. But with as many battles as they had, I'm not sure how they could have made it shorter. I really enjoyed the Hip Hop performance at the end, and I can definitely say that the staff at this event were super friendly and helpful. If you have the opportunity to stand next year's R16 I suggest you do it, even if you're not familiar with the B-Boy culture, it's definitely something worth checking out. 

entrance to R16

KTO ticket booth

With my friends during the event

KTO CEO announcing the winners between Korea & Japan

Monday, July 1, 2013

Drum Cat

The weather has been uncomfortably hot and humid in Seoul as of late, so when I found out that the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) had so generously decided to give out tickets to a performance, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon out in town, from the comforts of an air conditioned building.

The performance my friend and I attended on Saturday June 29, was Drum Cat, which after reading I found out is a show that has been traveling the world for some time now, and has now settled in Seoul. The performance was in the third basement level of Myungbo Art Hall, located just a short walk from exit 8 out of Euljiro3-ga Station (Subway Lines 2 & 3). The facility was clearly labeled and easy to find, and once inside we were greeted by friendly and helpful staff, plus a well stocked and affordable mini cafe for refreshments.

This particular performance consisted of six girls who played an assortment of percussion instruments, and one girl who played the violin; all songs performed were accompanied by prerecorded uptempo music, and a well choreographed light show. If I remember correctly, the show lasted about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, which to me seemed like the perfect length for this type of show. Anything less would have left me unsatisfied, but anything more would have made it drag out too long and become bothersome.The ladies were really energetic, and engaging with the crowd. At one point they came into the seats and pulled two people onto the stage, my friend was one of those people, and she said it definitely made the experience more memorable for her.

The show was entertaining, and I definitely give credit to the girls who seemed to really be having a good time performing together. However, I can't say that this was an original, or creative show. Creativity seemed to be lacking, and although the pamphlet stated that there would be a variety in music from different parts of the world, it all seemed to blend in and sound alike to me. So, would I recommend this show to others? yes, by all means if you have the opportunity to attend for free like I did, it's a nice way to spend an hour or two. But if you have to pay, or make a special trip out of the way, I would say it's okay to miss it.

We were not allowed to take photos or videos during the show (although some rule breakers didn't care and kept producing flashes during the show) so I've only got two photos to share this time. One is of the outside of the location, and the other is of my friend and I after the show when the Drum Cats came for a meet & greet.