Finding a Hobby in Korea

by Sharon -- August 10, 2010

One of the things Jason and I wanted to do while we were temporarily “settled” down in Korea was sign up for some sort of class.  Jason wanted to learn something Korean, so he chose Tae Kwon Do.  During our 5 month stay in Korea, Jason was able to take two full months of Tae Kwon Do class and progress to a green belt!  You should remember this the next time you see Jason because he does enjoy showing off his new perfected kicks. While Jason chose to learn something new and Korean, I couldn’t seem to get away from my love of dance. 

I initially looked for traditional Korean dance classes, and I eventually found one when we were living in Seoul, but it was like forcing myself to order a Korean bulgogi burger when there was a mouthwatering Red Robin Turkey Burger sitting right next to it.  I can’t help it, I’m a creature of habit when it comes to food.  Anyways, (and now that I have made myself hungry) I was intrigued with learning Korean dance but I still really wanted to find a Modern or Contemporary dance class.  Dance is one of the very few activities that I have a passion for, and those of you who have developed a passion for a particular hobby can probably empathize with this logic.

Well, my stubbornness ended up paying off because I discovered the most amazing Contemporary dance class.  Yes, the class was conducted solely in Korean, so I did not benefit from any of the things the teacher said, but it wasn’t as big of a deal as one would think.  I have studied dance for many years and have learned enough choreography to be able to tell what the teacher is emphasizing while they are demonstrating; it’s all in the body language.  For someone who is learning something new, however, like Jason learning Tae Kwon Do, it’s a whole different story.  He often had a hard time learning the fundamentals of technique because there are things that you have to explain to a student, and when the student doesn’t speak the same language as the teacher, there’s a major problem.

For anyone thinking about taking up a hobby in a foreign country, my advice would be to question whether or not you would be able to pick up on the skills without a full explanation.  If it is something that you already have experience with, it won’t be as difficult as you think.  It will be quite enjoyable, in fact, as many locals will probably be thrilled that a foreigner has joined their class, thus giving you special attention if you need it.  If you are looking to try something completely new, on the other hand, just be aware that the communication barrier will require more patience.  There is no doubt you will learn, but always be aware of the fact that you may not get a complete understanding of the craft.

On a side note, I have noticed that Koreans are FLEXIBLE!  When I took the contemporary dance class in Seoul, I felt like “baby’s first dance class” compared to the rest of the students during the warm-up.  Not only were they insanely bendy, but this particular class really emphasized leg extensions because mine was a good foot or two below everyone else’s (in dance, “extensions” are the act of extending a limb, whether it be to the front, side or back).  Clearly, my least favorite part of the class was when we practiced these.

Random Thought of the Day: A few weeks ago Jason spotted something that makes me laugh out loud every time I think about it.  It was an old Korean grandma wearing a t-shirt that said (in English) “Who the fuck is Mick Jagger?” I guarantee she had no clue what her shirt meant.

Photos courtesy of : Sydney Atkins and Velocity Weekly

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