I’ve been in Seoul South Korea for the last five days interviewing composers from the Korean Composers Association and generally having a wonderful time. So far I’ve toured the Korean Broadcasting System including both the television and radio stations, met the dean of the music school at the Korean National University of Arts, heard a wide range of music including Korean traditional music and interviewed close than 20 composers for the two shows I’ll be doing once I return to Chicago.
Oh yeah and I was here over Thanksgiving which of course is not a big deal so I went out with a couple of others for Korean BBQ and loved it! In fact I can say honestly that I’ve been eating like a king, perhaps even like King Sejong of 14th century Korean history. That’s a picture of his statue above which is on a broad walkway outside of the Sejong Cultural Center leading to the former Imperial Palace which is now a museum.
Sejong was an incredible guy. He created the Korean alphabet, revolutionized their music and gave it their national identity, apart from China, created tons of ingenious labor saving and scientific devices and was generally a wise, thoughtful, highly cultured ruler who spent his life tirelessly bettering himself and the lot of his people. In other words he was exactly what a king should be.
He’s very much idolized here in South Korea and his legacy is everywhere evident in the respect that everyone shows to other people, the incredibly high rate of literacy and education and the many many cultural institutions throughout Seoul. Most of my work is done and I still have four days to check out the museums and other tourist sites and I’m very much looking forward to it!