대학교 생활 University Life

It’s been a while since my last blog post because I’ve been too busy/lazy between classes and my hungover weekends (sorry mom) to update. But that’s what I’m going to do now!

So two weeks of classes have passed by and it has been busyyyy. Korean class from 2–6pm everyday along with Pilates and a Linguistics class cause why not overload myself while abroad ya know? Classes have been great except for the killer stairs I have to take every damn day just to get to my classes but it’s fine. I’m fine. (not fine. I break into sweat as soon as I see all those steps.) When I’m not in class, I’m at home doing all my homework ㅠㅠ. I have found some time however, to go to a few museums that have been on my to-do list since I arrived in Korea. I was able to visit the War and Women’s Human Rights Museum and the 서대문형무소역사빅물관 (Seodaemun Prison Hall Museum.)

To start off my lil segment on my museum adventures, the War and Women’s Human Rights Museum is located near one of the hottest areas in Seoul called Hongdae. The walk up towards the museum is through a residential area so I thought I was lost at first because I have gotten lost way too many times here. The road eventually leads to some street art depicting the 할머니들 (grandmas). The museum’s entrance is dark and you can see a holographic animation of butterflies. The museum utilizes audio guides to tell the story of the 위안부 (wae-an-bu; grandmas) in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese. It’s a two story building where the first floor is used to walk through the lives of the 위안부 when they were first forced into sex slavery by the Japanese military at the young age of 14–16. The museum shared actual sayings that the 위안부 had expressed during their enslavement. This floor created a huge impact on myself because you could experience the type of hardship these women had to go through at such a young age. The second story of the building is used to educate individuals on the history of the 위안부 and their struggle to receive reparations and a meaningful apology from the Japanese government. They provide records and diagrams of the interior of the buildings used as comfort stations by the military. The museum did a great job in showcasing to guests the type of life these women had to do undergo during their forced enslavement as well as life after. You can offer up a rose in remembrance of a 위안부 who had passed on or in solidarity with those that are still alive and fighting for their rights. As you leave the museum, you can leave a message on a butterfly on the wall leading up to the museum’s front steps. Below are a few pictures I was able to capture outside the museum and on the second floor. The first floor did not allow photography so that’s an even bigger incentive to come to this museum and learn about the 위안부 for yourself.

Here is a link to an animated movie called “Her Story” depicting an actual 위안부 and her life as a sex slave for the Japanese military. The museum featured this animation in the museum so if you are not able to see this museum for yourself, I ask that you educate yourself on this issue for the sake of the 위안부 and many other women in war-striken zones being used as sex slaves. (Warning: contains material that may be triggering) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CmWdrlv3fI

On to my next museum adventure! I think a few days after going to the War and Women’s Human Right’s Museum, I went to the 서대문형무소역사빅물관(Seodaemun Prison History Museum). This prison was created in 1910, the end of the Joseon Dynasty when Korea was under the control of Japan. This prison was by the Japanese soldiers to torture and execute Korean Independence Movement followers. Many of the prisoners were college students or those in their 30s to 40s. Protest culture in Korea has been strong since the colonization period to even now during the former President 박근혜’s impeachment. The prison is available for visitors to walk the very grounds the Independence fighters were forcefully placed. I walked around the prison and went into the cells of various Independence fighters and experienced recreated torture scenes in the “Temporary Detention Room” and “Torture Room.” Real heavy stuff. I thought it was important to come here in order to better understand the history of Korea. My favorite part of this museum was seeing the female Independence fighters section because they played an equal role to the men when it came down to fighting against the Japanese government. Many of them were imprisoned at a young age but continued to do their part for Korea’s independence by leading protests behind bars. (Like I said badass women) Below are pictures of the prison grounds and some exhibits and murals in the prison museum.

Seodaemun Prison grounds
Left: fan shaped “gym” area for one guard to oversee all prisoners at the same time Middle: mural of “Assassin” move based on Korean resistance fighters Right: all the female Independence fighters
March 1st Declaration of Independence Monument

Oh and I went to an animal cafe recently! Dog and cat cafes are lame, Meerkat cafes are where it’s at! There’s a Meerkat cafe located in Hongdae (my fave place in Korea) where you can pet and interact with arctic foxes, wallabees, genets, and other animals that I’m not entirely sure what they were but they were hella soft. We had to pay 10,000 won (~$9) for the entrance and cost of a drink and read the rules of the cafe which was all in Korean. (I only read like the first sentence cause it was a fat sign but basically don’t be loud, be careful, don’t piss the animals off, ya know.) The meerkats were kept in a two play pens in the center of the cafe. You were only allowed to be in the play pen for a total of 10 minutes in order for them to not get overwhelmed. Once I got into the pen, I don’t know what happened but the meerkats all started to fight each other?? The group before us didn’t have this problem so just my luck right?? They were running all over the place, biting each other, hiding under me and my friend’s legs, all in all making it hella hard to not freak out and scream but it’s chill. We eventually got cute pics and two meerkats fell asleep in my lap while the rest kept fighting. I def enjoyed the cafe but I started to sneeze and my throat got itchy so we had to leave that place as soon as we were done. Now I know that I may be allergic to meerkats. The more ya know. But enjoy pics of these cute lil bbs!

In more recent (and not as sad) news, this past weekend I got to see a Korean rapper by the name of 레디 (Reddy) live at a club. If you know me, I go off when it comes to rap or hip-hop music. The Korean rap and hip-hop scene goes hard and I can def vouch after seeing one of my faves live. It was wildddd mostly because I was right to the stage and was head to shoulder with 레디. I’m pretty sure he lost hearing in his left ear that night cause I was screaming for a good 5 minutes when he played one of my favorite songs. (I would share a video of his performance but like I said, I was screaming the whole damn time, ragrets.)

(I also had like two soju bottles before seeing him but that has no connection I’m sure.) Live stages are so fun here. I could never imagine getting that close to an American artist so I’m pretty damn thankful that I got to experience that. But like also side note. I went to this foreign bar where you can play Beer Pong for roughly $10 per game. I was shook because 1) expensive but 2) everyone sucked and I would have mostly likely won if I wanted to waste my money on that. But woo all caught up!