Sunday, June 19, 2011

quest ends in failure

It was a good dinner with the relatives last night, but my earlier quest for a place that makes dojang ended in failure. After trying several stores that sold the sort of products one might find in Insa-dong, I was told, in every case, that there's no such craftsman here. While I'm not inclined to believe this, the certitude of every ajumma I met became unnerving. One lady, however, was kind enough to direct me to the Korean phone book, where there's a section devoted to "pyogo-sa" which, if I understood her correctly, refers to stores that cater to artists.* I snapped a photo of the phone book page for future reference. Unfortunately, the listing doesn't include any addresses: it's just a short list of place names plus a phone number.

Two of the shopkeepers I visited recommended that I simply ask a friend in Korea to get a cheap dojang made, and have it sent to me. I told the ladies about how easy it is to get machine-made chops on the streets of Seoul, which is why I was sure that something like that would be easy to find here in a local Koreatown. They countered that, in America, there's really no use for a dojang: here, we use signatures and rubber stamps. True enough, I said, but what about local artists? The ladies didn't think it likely that those artists would have had their chops made in the States.

The beautiful set of chops that I had made are, I think, still in Korea, being guarded by my friend Sperwer (not his real name), who's been storing many heavy and light-but-bulky boxes of my possessions in his basement. I can't ask him to rifle through all those boxes just to find one tiny object; it'd be too much work, and would take too much time. So it may be time to formulate a Plan B.

*I don't see the word in either the Yahoo! or the Naver online dictionaries, but I do see entries for pyogo. I already knew one meaning of the word: shiitake mushroom. I didn't know the other one: altitude above sea-level. The pyogo-sa in question is neither of these; instead, it's a store for artists who want, among other things, to get their works framed.


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