Friday, September 18, 2009

The Park and The Festivities Begin

The cabbie dropped us off at Woobang Tower Land, which is the biggest amusement park in Daegu.

"At least if we get bored we can do something else," quips the Irish.

I look around and figure we have to be somewhere close to the right place as I can see a number of signs for the Body Painting Festival on the road. After a few minutes we decide to ask yet another cab driver, which gets us a finger pointing in a particular direction. With that in mind we take stock of where we are (across from the theme park, near a bar) and start walking.

"Which way to we go?" I ask.

"No idea."

"That way?" points the Trainee.

So we start walking for no readily apparent reason into a slightly more tree-covered area in the park. We run into about forty Korean gentlemen drinking soju.

"Guys we are going the wrong way." I suggest.

"Nah, I've got nipple-dar; I'm locked in," says the Irish.

"If your nipple-dar is as good here as it is in a bar we are going to be hopelessly lost."

The Trainee laughs and we continue to walk in circles in the park, finally ending up at a large stadium-type place.

"And we are here!" says the Irish, triumphant.

I ask the guards in Korean and they tell us to come back at 7:00, as that is when the show starts. I ask them about the body painting festival and they respond by telling me we are in the wrong place and pointing toward the entirely opposite direction of the one we came from and saying that we wanted to go that way.

"Nipple-dar, huh?"

"What? It will be an adventure!"

"Adventure?" Hmpf, I scoff, and walk off, the boys following. Finally we see a large balloon banner and it is declared that we are near to accomplishing our goal. And so we are, at least, arrived at the festival. At this point it's about half-past three when we join the queue to pay for the tickets and head in with our sexy hot green arm bandages. Now that we can all find each other in the dark it is finally time to attend to the business at hand. Naked chicks! (There is some silliness at the front gate that will be discussed later, because it truly deserves it's own story.)

We walk the outside perimeter first and notice that there is Korean food for sale, lots of beer, some art work for sale, phones for sale, and a notable lack of body paint for sale. Sadly it seems that unlike last year, this year one would not be able to get their own supplies. Fortunately I had bought a bunch for last year as a stock up so I wasn't too sad about it. Having now checked out all the things that were without nipples we dived in for the entire purpose of the show. The art.

The first few tents had models taking off paint from earlier showings. Then we got to the actual tents where Koreans were painting up a storm for the competition that begins at 4:00. Several of the designs were lovely. Colorful paint on flesh. Bodies in motion moving with a vivid flow clothing that is not real, that is just an imagination, someone's thought created on a canvas that is always changing. It's beautiful because it will not last, it's the impermanence that makes it so powerful.

We keep moving, walking through the tents until we finally come to what is, in many ways, the highlight of the show, the international artists who have made a special trip out to do show pieces but not to compete in the show. They are judges, and each one of them is highly skilled at what they do. While the Korean artists are doing interesting work, this is really where the magic is happening. As it was we ran into my friend BodyMagick, who was in town for the show. The artists painting this particular day are Russian, Ukrainian, Israeli and German respectively. It was the German who I'd met during the last body painting festival and who I was happy to see returned to Korea to show off his appreciable skill. Of the pieces the guest artist was working on his and the piece by Sholomit the Israeli artist were definitely my favorites. Sadly, as is usually the case, the tent was absolutely swamped by Korean men and photographers making it almost impossible to get anywhere near the art.

The Irish manages to sneak up first and manages to check out the 3D body painting artwork that BodyMagick has for sale. The Trainee is stuck with me in the back but as the crowd thins, and BodyMagick strikes up a conversation with the artist, we are finally noticed.

"Are you going to stay back there all day?" asks the Artist.

"Well I don't feel like fighting my way up there."

"It's that difficult?"

So the Trainee and I manage to push our way to the front of the tent to get a better look at what the Artist is doing. It's amazing, phantasmagorical, a skull and muscle piece laid over skull and muscle. It's fantastically gory while being at the same time being impossibly beautiful.

What I manage to say is "That's really nice." I'm a poet.

The Artist manages to look up and finally notices the Trainee, and of course, can't help but notice the bandage on the Trainee's arm. He raises an eyebrow.

"Look, it's already been asked, twice and apparently it wasn't that." I say to the eyebrow.

"Well then what was it?"

"It wasn't that!" Cries the Trainee, who is perhaps getting a little sensitive at the moment for the constant accusations. "Look I was trying to impress a girl. It was a punching machine, and at least I got the top score."

"So, it was a girl, so one way or another it was a jerk." The Artist replies.

The Irish and I both laugh.

"I like him," notes the Irish.

"He's like-able."

We hang out at the tent for a few more minutes, distracting the Artists from his work, but eventually we head down to check out what is going on with the stage. As we sit to wait we notices an older ajjuma dressed in pink, or rather she notices us. She falls in love immediately. I get groped, the Trainee gets groped, the Irish gets groped, the whole time she is speaking to us in Korean and letting us know what she thinks about seeing us today. Apparently we have made her evening with our presence, which is always sort of nice.

She walks toward the stage as the loud music starts playing and just starts dancing away, happy as can be. She turns to dance her way back toward us, and as she does a nice security guard runs up to her to escort her to a seat. She sits next to us and offers us bread, which sadly we don't eat because we weren't really sure about the smell of said bread. Eventually she wanders off, hopefully to dance somewhere else; she deserved a dance.

After some time sitting we decide to head back and say goodbye to the Artist and head out for some drinking. The Artist is still at work on his superior design and informs us the completed pieces will be on stage at 7:30. We agree to head back and decide in the meantime to wander back to the bar that was in the direction of our original drop-off point.

"Does anyone remember how to get there?"

"No, but it will be an adventure," replies the Irish.

"This will not end well."

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