So the major reason I’m here in Seoul right now is to participate in the International Korean Adoptee Associations’ (IKAA) 2013 Gathering. Held every three years, the Gathering is the largest Korean adoptee conference in the world. This year about 450 adoptees are attending the weeklong conference. I’m presenting at the research symposium portion of the conference on Tuesday.
So yesterday IKAA hosted a membership training event. Apparently this is an activity most Koreans are familiar with—when starting at a new company, or starting the new college school year, friends or colleagues go out to the country to drink, play games, and get to know each other. Kind of like corporate retreats, but with more soju.
We went to a traditional music school two hours outside of Seoul that’s run by an ajusshi (who apparently is a famous samulnori musician), his wife, and their daughter. They were very gracious hosts, even if they were a little overbearing about their own preferred agenda (they wanted to teach us Arirang all night; most of us were there to drink).
MT was fun, I was able to see a lot of familiar faces, and meet new adoptees as well. I usually feel like an awkward turtle in new social situations, but it was so nice to feel like part of the group at MT. All the attending adoptees were so friendly, I felt like I was already friends with everyone, and just go to skip the awkward get-to-know you period. The copious amounts of alcohol may have also helped with that. It’s a possibility.
We learned a bunch of Korean drinking games, and then expanded out to German drinking games, American drinking games, Danish drinking games, etc.
Last night the sunsaegnim (teacher) and his students performed a samulnori routine for us. This morning, several of us were interested in trying the drums, and asked the teacher if he would be willing to give us a lesson. So we ended up having an impromptu samulnori jam session. We weren’t nearly as impressive as the teacher’s performance last night, but I think we did pretty well for absolute beginners.
We got back to Seoul around 1 pm, and let me tell you, the cold shower I took when I got back to Koroot felt amazing! I’ve got a couple hours to rest and reorganize before heading back over to Myeongdong for the Gathering’s opening ceremony. And tomorrow will be the research symposium. Wish me luck!