Day two we returned to Kukkiwon and I had the pleasure to meet with the president. He gave me a Letter of Commendation. In recognition of my outstanding contribution to the development and dissemination of Taekwondo. We then visited the open area that the testing took place in the day before and did a bit of filming. I had to do a little self advocacy with the filming crew as they wanted me walk around and then stand still for about ten minutes. After talking with then they understood why that was not going to happen. We then left to go to a local Tae Kwon Do school and spent the rest of the day there.
I was barely in the door and I was asked to speak. I introduced myself and said hello and then took a minute to set down my jacket. Then I spoke a bit on my life and Tae Kwon Do. The school had a demonstration planed for me and so I was able to sit an watch them. They did forms, breaking, and sparring. Then I was asked to do some Tae Kwon Do and I did some kicking drills, breaking, nun-chucks and sparred with them. Later we some lunch ad talked . Some of the students tried to teach me some Korean and tried to teach them some English. There was some interviewing of the the Master, students and myself. There was also a reporter and camera from a local T.V. Station who wanted to capture the day with me. There was a second class that I joined and that class was for students with disabilities. I joined the class as they were doing a basic class form that I was able to learned quickly and it was lot of fun. After the class some of the parents arrived and I performed my nun chucks. The day was lot of fun by the end I was very tired, sore and hungry.
That evening we had plans to eat Korean Barbecue at a local restaurant. By the time we got there I was very hungry and cranky. The film crew was taking forever to get going and it was cold outside. I went into the restaurant trying to get them moving along but that did not work. Then needed the coming and going. I went back outside annoyed and then back in hoping to eat soon. Next thing I know the camera is in my face again asking me what I thought of the place. I said it was nice. I was then asked is that all you have to say. I responded I am sore, tired, cranky, and hungry I will talk to you more after I eat. I bet that will make the film. Dinner was quick to arrive and I was given kimchi (Korean cabbage) I quickly put it aside knowing that I did not like it as I had tried it the day before. It was quickly questioned why I was not eating it and I explained that I did not like and therefore was not eating it. They did not seem to like that but did not push anymore. Momo was able to meet us for dinner which was great! Then we finished up our dinner and went back to the hotel. All and all dinner was really nice.
On the third and finally day we started the day with a visit to the Tae Kwon Do Promotion Federation. This was the group that funded the first documentary that I was a part in. There was a short business meeting and during that I was asked to write a short message to the Korean people. I was then asked to be a speaker at this summers International Tae Kwon Do camp which I accepted. We then got to see a short video about the Tae Kwon Do Park that is being built. It was a great meeting they gifted me some really nice things.
That afternoon we did some sightseeing. We tried to go to the palace but found out it was closed on Tuesdays. However, we did get to look around the front part of grounds and take some pictures. Then we went to the highest point in Seoul and got to see the whole city it was beautiful. There I learned about the locks of love. People come to this place lock the locks to the fence and write messages to there love ones. I left a lock for my family. Later we went to the largest out door market in Seoul. I was looking forward to getting a necklace for myself. The market place was a lot of fun and bit cold. Later in the day I meet up with a reporter from a Tae Kwon Do newspaper and did a short interview.
Before dinner there was the last formal interview in my room. This was an opportunity for the film crew to ask or follow up on last minute things. At first it was a short laid back interview. Quickly it became formal. They wanted me to sit here instead of there. They wanted me to sit this way instead of that way. It was frustrating because they wanted to sit in a way that was not comfortable for my body. I went with it because I knew it was important. There was one thing that I was not going to deal with and that them physically moving me around without being asked. My chair was being moved and then my body without words well without English words. At last I said to the producer if you want me to move would please ask me in English and I would be happy to do that. He then talk me the camera guy does not speak English how can you ask that. I looked at the producer and said I know he does not speak English I am asking you to speak English not him. He went silent a few minutes later he he asked me to move to the right. I looked at him and said thank you that was all that I was looking for. We then finished up and went to dinner.
My last night we went to a nice restaurant. One of the interesting things I found to happen while eating in Korea was that you did not order individual dishes. It seemed that things came as an appetizer would here and then everyone ate from everything. We ordered pizza that was very different. No sauce and it was on a very different kind of dough, but it was good. Dinner was nice and there was no filming! After dinner I meet up with Momo for drinks and dessert. It was nice to meet up with as I spent a lot of time with him while he was filming me in the US. Momo walked me back to the hotel and wished me good flight home. I went up to the room to pack up. As I packed I was having a hard time fitting everything in the suitcase as I was gifted a number of things over the last three days.
The following morning we went to the airport. I was was flying home on my know because Andrew had business and was staying. The flight home was just as nice as it was going there as I was on the same two story plane. Our flight home was a bit shorter 12 hours instead of 15. Unfortunately, it felt way longer probably because I slept less then the flight over. Before I knew it we were landing at JFK airport and then it was a short flight home to Boston. I did have a few hours in JFK before boarding for Boston. Once through customs I texted home and got my messages from my family. My sister Lisa and I talked for awhile about my trip and all the things going on while I was gone. I had a great trip but it great to be home!
When I look back I’m glad that I did it. There are some things I wish went differently. I wish there was more interpreting there for me. It seemed that there was interpreting only when when I directly needed to be spoken to. I realize this was probably because I was being filmed but it was frustrating for me. I understood hello, thank you and Sheila that is very little. The worst part was hearing my name all the time and not understanding what was being said. I spent my childhood with people whispering things about me and even though this was not the same it brought back some of those memories. I was there three days and going crazy not understanding things I have a new respect for people coming to the US without the language or the culture. I wish I had had a friend with me. Andrew was there as an agent and made sure that things went smoothly but it would of been more fun to share this whole experience with a friend or family member.
The documentary will be out soon. I’ll keep you posted.