Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mom!

May 4th is Mom's birthday, and the following post is for her.

Smoo is my mother's school; she attended classes here back in the 1960s. The school has changed a lot since then, so I wanted to give Mom a very brief tour of the campus and the neighborhood where I live.

The following photographs were taken as I was leaving campus for the day. In the first pic, I'm standing in the main quad, looking back toward the Social Education Building, where I teach. My building's hiding meekly in the corner, somewhat occluded by the buildings on either side of it. Take a look:

main quad

Above, you can also see the School of Music on the right side, from which emanate melodious sounds all day long: singing, piano, strings, etc.

In the next picture, below, we're moving toward the exit and looking way across campus to the other main quad.

looking longingly across

Smoo's layout is rather strange: the main road actually bisects the campus, which means there are, effectively, two main gates. Check out this interactive map if you read Korean. My building is the sa-hwae-gyo-yook-gwan, to which is given the sinister translation, Social Education Building. Even if you don't read Korean, you can look at the map and see what I mean by "two main gates."

In the following picture, I've walked down a set of stairs and turned around. I liked the effect of light and shadow here. Probably could've taken a more effective shot had I planned better.

in the house of stone and light

I suppose the motto shown below, sae-sang-eul ba-ggu-neun budeu-reo-oon heem ("gentle power to change the world"), is more appropriate for a bastion of Korean feminism than Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women.

(Yes, that is good!)


I challenge any man-- any man at all-- to look at this artwork and not think sexual thoughts:


In my lighter moments, I shake off the whole "tits or ass?" line of thinking and wonder whether this isn't a modern metaphor for fried chicken: breasts and wings. (Trivia: the Korean term for "breast meat" at a fried chicken resto is ka-seum-sal, or literally, "chest flesh.")

The next picture, below, reveals I wasn't lying about Namsan being close by. Standing right there on Smoo's campus, I can look across the way and see Seoul Tower looming like Isengard in the distance:

abode of Saruman

Next up: flower petals. There's no escaping Georgia O'Keeffe metaphors at a women's university.

may I tongue thee?

We're pretty much off the campus now. I'm standing by the main gate (well, one of the main gates, anyway) and have turned around to give you a shot back up the stairs. As you see, the signs telling you this is Smoo are ubiquitous. No confusion about which campus you're visiting.

signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

In case the previous sculpture didn't forcibly remind you of bras that lift and separate, there's the "aesthetic redundant system." Just to make sure you leave campus on a happy, perky note:

weather's kinda nipply

Now we're walking uphill to my residence. Looks like a typical downtown neighborhood, right? See below:

what sits upon yon hill?

BUT NO! This isn't just any neighborhood: it's home to Moonie headquarters!


The Unification Church is world famous. You'd think they could afford bigger digs. You know-- something on the order of Schuller's obnoxious Crystal Cathedral. Instead, you see this:

not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but 'tis enough, 'twill serve

In this final picture, I'm standing perhaps twenty meters downhill from my residence. When I hit the new Namsan trail, this is the first view of the mountain I get. Seoul Tower's there in the distance, making the hike seem reassuringly plausible.

under forty-five minutes, baby

And that's the end of our little tour. Hope you enjoyed it, Mom. Happy birthday, and I love you!


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