Wednesday, July 18, 2007

3rd Ansan Int. Busking Festival Pt.1

I have a lot of photos from my trip to Ansan, Korea for the 3rd Ansan International Busking Art Festival. Enough to make several posts about the event.

My first post will be about the morning I went to meet my Korean friend Jae-Eun at the train station so we could go together.

I arrived about 45 minutes early and decided to sit down and rest on a bench in the shade of a tree. The place where I was meeting my friend is pretty far away from where Westerners typically stay, so I received a few awkward looks from passerbyes. Nothing I didn't expect.

However, after sitting for about 10 minutes, a man came walking over to the bench and said something that sounded very angry, and apparently directed at noone at all. I could smell alcohol on his breath. Then he grabbed a tool from his tool belt and slammed the pointed tip into the bench. The tool penetrated the wood and stood upright. I got the immediate feeling this man had done that before and could be some kind of show of strength or something intended to startle/frighten me. Whether or not he intended it, that is what happened.

I was eating Pepperros, a Korean chocolate candy which are a box of pretzel sticks covered in chocolate. Instinctively, out of self-preservation, I offered some to the stranger. My hope was that any anger he had would be disarmed by the offer.

To my delight, the man accepted. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a bag of chocolate covered seeds and began to offer them to me. We ate the seeds and then he bought some street vendor food that we shared.

His English was minimal. He learned it in the military while working with US soldiers. He was trained as a sniper. These days he is a section chief for power line maintanence. I think he said he was 42 years old.

While we talked I made him an oregame flower (just in case he needed to chill out a bit more). He made me an oregame crane. Shortly after exchanging these, I took a photo of him because it was such a strang encounter.

If you look closely, you can see the wratchet like tool behind his left arm. That is the thing he slammed into the wooden bench.



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