Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Haengbokhan Hangeuk Halloween!

(That's 'Happy Korean Halloween' for you unilinguals out there.)

The end of the second month of my tenure has come, and with it one of my favorite events of the year: Halloween! I admit, I was a bit worried about being immersed in a culture that doesn't acknowledge the inherent wonderfulness of this pagan festival. Most Koreans have only a vague understanding of the actual holiday, but things such as 'trick or treating' or costumes are foreign and unpracticed. The horror!

Determined to drum up some festive spirit, I began by deciding to throw a pumpkin carving party. No easy feat, given that pumpkins aren't so easy to find when there isn't a high demand to turn them into lanterns. I had to poke into a hair salon and try to communicate in terrible Korean that I wanted to purchase part of their seasonal window dressing, to which they agreed, baffled. The second obstacle was trying to explain to Koreans exactly what a Jack O' Lantern is, since most seemed to have a vague notion that it's a type of hat, thanks to pop culture fables of the Headless Horseman.

Thankfully I was pleased with a festive turnout, even if we did only manage to drum up a couple pumpkins. Brent had trouble procuring his pumpkin as well, as the grocer didn't want to sell it to him because it 'would be bad for soup'. He had to try to communicate that cuisine wasn't his agenda. Our Korean audience was amused and horrified as we swam through pumpkin innards, carved grisly visages, and munched on baked seeds. The final products were then donated to the school as authentic decor for upcoming Halloween festivities.

The next issue was exactly how to spend Halloween weekend. For the past four years I have been captaining on the SFU/UBC Halloween Howler Pub Crawl, so suddenly being without a bus and a crowd of drunken people to follow me around was quite the blow. Luckily I found a smaller but equally rowdy crowd to celebrate with in Seoul, with a collection of Vancouverities and other Canadians (by coincidence, not national segregation, I assure you). So Jo, Brent and I hopped the KTX north and emerged as ass-kicking soldier G.I.Jo, 1940's bomber pilot Sky Captain, and of course, Batman.

Ultimately, the lack of holiday spirit managed to work somewhat in our favour, as everywhere we went we were viewed with awe and amazement. To an attention monger such as myself, this was bliss - I could scarcely walk five feet without hearing 'BATMAN!' shouted in delight, or being assaulted to pose for a photo.

Of course, the spirit wasn't nonexistant - wherever there are university students, there are those willing to dress in stupid costumes and use it as an excuse to throw parties. in the student ghetto of Hongdae we found a nice, big club called M2 in full swing, with plenty of Koreans in costumes and impressive festive decor. Here we didn't draw as much attention, but I compensated by dancing on stage till the wee hours of the morn. No easy task to do in a wool facemask and cape I assure you, but I was far too stubborn to remove either - Batman would never compromise his secret identity for something as paltry as heat exhaustion!

Having thoroughly enjoyed the pre-Halloween weekend, the only thing left was to do something properly festive on the actual day itself. Here the school provided us with an answer, opting to teach our preschool kids a thing or two about Western customs. As such we ordered several boxes full of pre-made costumes, spent a frustrating half hour wrestling them into them, and then took the wee hellions out trick or treating. Of course, we could only take them to their own parents' houses, as nobody else would know what to do if hordes of garishly-clad children showed up shrieking at their doors, but it was still a jolly good time.

Thus, another chapter of All Hallow's Eve comes to a close in the Land of the Morning Calm. Hopefully at least a few citizens were enlightened rather than annoyed, and perhaps a small handful now sleep more soundly knowing that Batman watches over their city, ever-vigilant, ready to leap into action!


Anonymous janet said...

why am I even surprised to see YOU in the batman outfit? And hey, are you growing a goatee?? What happened to the clean shaven, golden boy of the century? Ooooh, you could have painted yourself gold but then, people might not have understood the deeper theme so hmmm....hahaha least yOU had fun. I worked and worked, only got to squeeze in a lil bit of halloween fun. LOL neways did u get post?

9:02 AM  

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