Sunday, December 14, 2003

takin' it to da peeps

It's Saturday evening, and I've been prepping for The Big Day. Tomorrow I'm emceeing the Washington Korean Women's Society Christmas Party, being held out in the Tyson's area of NoVA. It's supposed to be snowy, rainy, and cold, so I'll be curious how many people actually drag themselves out to the shindig. The WKWS usually puts on the dog (whoops-- bad choice of words), so I'm sure that, barring a major foul-up by yours truly, a good time will be had by all. Ironically, no Korean food will be served at the event, though part of the evening will feature a Korean court dance called T'ae-p'yeong-mu.

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Park Yoon Soo (or Yoon Soo Park, Western-style). His resume is pretty extensive; I have a feeling my intro will be longer than his keynote address. Dr. Park's done extensive work in semiconductor tech and is heavily involved in matters of US-SK relations. He's Plugged In. Bigots worry about so-called "Jewish domination" of America, but I'm here to warn you of the subtle Korean invasion of our society's upper echleons: two of Dr. Park's three daughters occupy the editorial or directorial positions of major American publications-- one is, in fact, executive editor of People Magazine. Dr. Park himself will be leaving for Seoul early next year to lecture at Seoul National University, so once again, through no effort of my own, I end up with connections in high places. This has been the story of my time in Korea: with Korean relatives all over the place, and many of them quite well-off (one of my adjoshis is a director at the Yong P'yeong Resort, which I've visited a couple times now; another owns his own business), my life hasn't been nearly as hard as that of other foreigners who come with no language training or understanding of the culture. But I compensate for this by living in my shoebox dwelling in Jangui-dong, cooking on a glorifed camp stove, and freezing my enormous butticles off in the winter (thin walls, drafty old windows).

If you're in the Tyson's area tomorrow and have a lot of money to blow, get your ass a ticket to the WKWS event, enjoy some food and folklore, and gawk at all the "international marriages," as they're politely called. Oh, yes: my brother Sean and a friend of his, Adele, will be performing a cello duet just before the T'ae-p'yeong-mu. Sean says they have a musical surprise in store... at a guess, they'll spring some version of "Arirang" on the crowd, since that's what gets half-tipsy Koreans bawling. Hell, it moves me, too, and I don't drink. I almost sang it at my French friend's wedding in the mid-90s, but stage fright overcame me.

About stage fright... I have no problem with public speaking, and as someone who's done a bit of theater, I have no problem standing in front of people and looking like a complete ass-- an act I often accomplish without effort, audience or not. But for some reason, I find myself completely unable to sing and/or dance in front of a crowd, and I'm still not sure why. I abhor Korean norae-bahng (the claustrophobic Korean answer to karaoke), and have been in only one-- with relatives. Singing just isn't my bag.

OK... wish me luck. No blogging until waaaaay late Sunday evening, or Monday morning. Gotta get pumped.

[QUICK, QUIET UPDATE: I finally put Goldbrick in Seoul on the blogroll. It's a fantastic blog, mainly from a legal angle, but with plenty of social commentary.]


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