Last year while I was working as a kindergarten teacher in Seoul, one day I had to take my students to a puppet show. The puppet show was entirely in Korean, so I never understand exactly what was happening, but I did know one thing–it was about poop. I sat through an entire maybe 30-40 minute long puppet show about farting raccoons with indigestion that had to battle evil alien space poops. Why am I telling you this? Well that whole puppet show served as my introduction to Korea’s interesting relationship with poop. In a country that has a toilet-themed park and a well-known dung-obsessed cartoon character, that puppet show really wasn’t all that odd.
Might I also add that maybe only a week or two after arriving in Korea I was quickly introduced to “dong chim” aka “poop needle” aka the “funny” prank some of my students would do where they’d make their hands into a gun shape and try to poke their fingers up my butt. All that said, when I found out there was a poop-themed cafe just a couple train stops from my house, I was a little less surprised than you might expect.
Let me be honest about something–I never quite got the hang of Seoul Comic World. So far I’ve attended five events, so don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the cons a whole hell of a lot. What were my issues? Well, obvious challenges arose, such as cultural differences and language barriers. What I hadn’t expected, however, was an abundance of rules that cosplayers were asked to adhere to. And while it was navigating all those rules that ended up making me feel a little bit off to the sidelines, it also ended up teaching me a lot about the state of the anime fan in Korea.
I occasionally have grouchy “back in my day” moments where I lament how mainstream cosplay has become, but overall I’m quite happy about how accepted it’s become. I love that conventions are nerdy free-for-alls and how, when a convention rolls to town, most cosplayers will cruise through streets and parking lots without much of a care. With nothing but US con experiences under my belt, I went to Korea expecting that same sort of atmosphere, only to find out, not so much…
To further explain, first it’s important to note that Seoul Comic World is an event that ends in the early evening. Its a day trip thing, not a save-and-plan-all-year-and-book-a-hotel-room thing. Therefore the question arises–how exactly do I cosplay? (more…)
I’d been going a mile a minute, exploring everything I could the moment I got here, but this weekend my body told me it’s time to slow down. I’ve been combating a combo of laryngitis, possibly bronchitis for almost two weeks now. If you’re going overseas, don’t ever just take it for granted that you can just pop into any drugstore and easily pick up any medication you got at home. I’ve had to go to a Korean friend, explain my symptoms, have them write it out in Korean, and hand a pharmacist the paper like a child with a permission slip. The chance of me ever needing medication for an embarrassing ailment is reason alone to encourage me to master Korean sooner rather than later.
Illness aside, I’ve done my fair share of shopping, seeking out any and all things cute, and I’ve been trying my hardest to resist post-White Day chocolate sales (In Korea, Valentine’s Day is for the men, White Day is for the women). Subway stations and sidewalk sales are quickly becoming my go-to for good discount purchases, but one unique place my friend and I treated ourselves was at Pinkage in Hongdae–a wig and hair extension boutique with an in-house salon. My friend opted for a full head of hair, while I just went with a small set of fake bangs. Wigs range from about $80-140 and fake bangs start in the $20 range for simple front clip ins, while $40 will get you a set of bangs and fringe to cover the entire top of your hair, for a much more natural, seamlessly blended look.