Taean’s Wedding in Anyang

Today Miyoung and I went to her friend Taean’s wedding in scenic Anyang, a satellite city of Seoul. We walked out the front of Anyang station only to be confronted with a half-constructed building that seemed to have been untouched for a long time. In the background you can see two buildings attached by the most superfluous structure ever, an inter-building bridge with a giant screen showing public service announcements on it.

Naturally the wedding began when two women dressed like the nurse from Pokemon raised their swords to salute the bride and her father.

I didn’t know that the Korean Marines accepted whispy girls with sturdy farmer’s legs. Nonetheless I cannot deny that the bride’s father deserves this honor, what with his Prince Valiant hairstyle.

After a wedding speech in which the presiding, um, guy spent fifteen minutes out of twenty talking about the necessity of performing lots of filial piety, being a good son and daughter-in-law to his friend, the groom’s father, and actually making the groom put his father on his back and carry him around the altar, the confused couple are finally man and wife.

Like any newly married couple, the first thing they must take care of is the lighting of the small low quality cake perched atop a giant plastic 3-tier wedding cake, and the subsequent cutting of said cake with one of the nurse/marine’s swords.

The bride and groom, having conquered the cake, move on to their new life together.

It is at this point that notice that the bride bears a striking resemblance to actress Kim Hae-Suk, the reigning queen of frustrated but lenient wife and mother characters, perhaps best utilized in the movie My Brother (우리 형).
Of course she has quite a few more years on her than the blushing bride, but the resemblance stands.

After the ceremony everybody ran downstairs to the buffet, where the guests from all that day’s weddings eat together. Here’s a glimpse at Miyoung’s friends’ table, fully furnished with cola, beer and soju.

When I go to things like this, nobody understands why I take the pictures I do. I once forgot to take any pictures of the bride and groom because I was busy taking pictures of people taking pictures with their cameraphones. well after I snapped a shot of the table, I was bound to take a picture of the table’s occupants, who were all funny and nice guys if more than a little uncomfortable in my presence.

Here’s an intriguing view of Anyang from the wedding hall bathroom window. Something about those buildings and mountains always gets me.

After Anyang, Miyoung and I went to Insadong, Seoul’s number one touristy street. It’s the place that Koreans think that foreigners would like to see, and if the foreigners are looking to shop, they’re right. Since we’re leaving Korea in four months and change, a trip to Insadong every now and then is food for thought on gifts for friends and the like. Of course once there we had to line up at one of the ‘famous’ street stalls that sell hoddeok (호떡 – sounds like ‘ho duck’, basically a glob of dough with cinnamon and sugar in the middle, stamped flat and fried). The line we are in is wrapping all the way around the stall there, and at 50 cents a piece they are just raking in the dough, no pun intended. The russet colored garbage can in the middle of the picture is filled to the brim with the next batch of dough.

If this next picture makes your mouth water, you’ve been in Korea too long.

Here’s what a hoddeok maker’s labratory looks like. the key to the process is the stamp she’s holding, with which she presses, weights down, and flips the hoddeok. It smells like funnel cakes.

After our fix of fried dough and melted sugar, we went over to Ssamziegil, an interesting project that tries to blend Korean tradition with the kind of hokey time wasters and crafts-y stores that you’re likely to encounter in the parts of American theme parks like Six Flags where people who don’t like roller coasters congregate. I’m talking paint-your-own mug shops, engraving on clunky silver-esque jewelry, and a lot of colorful low-priced jewelry and accessory shops. The building is a spiral ramp, offering a seemless promenade experience and inding you to the window-shopping speeds of your fellow gawkers. The crowd inside Ssamziegil seems to be much more Korean than the general flow of traffic on the street in Insadong, which I mainly attribute to the fact that the facility doesn’t look at all impressive from the street. It’s rare to see pure foreign tourists unaccompanied by a Korean there. Here’s Miyoung enjoying a chamomile tea in a cafe near the top of the structure.

After a calming rest in Ssamziegil we stepped into an old-fashioned Jujeom (주점 – Sounds like ‘Jew jump’ without the ‘p’, literally ‘liquor place’). Because the place was a drinking extablishment and we weren’t drinking I was skeptical of the food, but they had a menu of hearty perennial favorites. The picture below shows the place’s typical two-tier structure, with just enough room on each tier to sit down, but not to stand. Also, the sign on the bathroom door here said ‘향기나는곳’ or ‘The place from whence the fragrance comes’. Classy euphemism.

The side dishes, clockwise from left: very fishy kimchi, sauteed ‘fiddleheads’ or fern sprouts(고사리, gosari), whole anchovies (멸치, myeolchi), spinach, and bean sprouts.

After a remarkable dinner of unremarkable things (kimchi stew and bulgogi) that are different every time you eat them, we headed back to beautiful Bucheon. Here’s Miyoung in front of the taxi roundabout at Bucheon station. In the background you can see brightly lit neon building containing the Victoria night club and “The Jam” movie theater, a TGI Fridays, Starbucks, and the office of the best Ear Nose and Throat man in the business. The water wheel in front, I was once told by a friend, is a complete mystery to me.

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~ by Joe on March 31, 2007.

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