Our friend Lee and Yoony are the founders of Flaming, the most popular fire performing team in South Korea. For over 6 years they perform in many events such as TV shows, theme parks, cultural gathering … Their performances use many fire effects; injections, dragon breath and fireworks. He invited us to be part of his team for a month or two after eclipse festival.
Lee shared with me about Korea, and told me not to have big expectation about his country and his people, we are mainly there to perform.
After 2 weeks in Indonesia, landing in Seoul early morning of march 17th is much of a thermal shock.
Though my first impression fitted to his description, as Seoul is a big city and our way from the airport to his home looks like any other big city with little charm. But as the days passes and my understanding of Seoul, Korean culture and hospitality grew, i got to really much like this country.
First of all the food is amazing, in the past weeks we tried so many different kind of dishes. Frozen pickled raw crab, tofu soup, organ soup, Kimchi (pickled cabbage), bibimbap (rice and vegetable), topoki (rice cake in spicy sauce), Fish cake, kimbap (Korean maki), ChiBe (fried chicken and beer) and so many other i don’t remember the name but the taste.
For drinking is much smoother than in China, there are two kinds of local alcohol that i know you can find anywhere in Korea: Makeli, a traditional fermented rice wine at 6 degrees, and Soju, an other rice wine at 17 degrees that is much like a smooth vodka to me. I must say I love getting drunk in Korea.
Korean are very hospitable and helpful. Lee and Yoony our host did a great job hosting us, showing us around and sharing with us their culture. treated us to try local speciality and their favorite restaurant, shared family meals They are always trying to think for us in order to make us feel comfortable and home-like.
Unfortunately, after few days, Lee announce to us that the contract we were coming for in the first place has been cancelled, leaving us pretty free of our time for this month in Korea.
This news was of course a disapointement to us, but we decided to anyway stay in Korea and make the best of our time here.
So everyday we trained our skills in their practice room, a big 100 meters square underground covered with mirrors. We shared skills with them, practice 6 people partner poi, double staff, dragon staff. All our favorite toys being their favorite too, we were like kids meeting everyday at the playground.
As we had no performances planned, we started to busk in Seoul. Street performing in Korea is legal, and there are several famous venues for this purpose. We tried 3 of them with relative success. The most popular performances are singing and K pop dance bands. but they don’t seem to do much money (neither did we), it’s more about experiencing while waiting for there graduation I assume.
The sundays we performed with the Flaming fire team in a park along the Majestuous Hang River. the other days of the week just Sam and me we tried other area like HongDae a university area and an other square in the theater area.
We discovered in Seoul, Jimjilbang, the traditional Korean sauna, a must try in Korea. It s usually a big building with a mixed zone with several dry sauna of different temperatures. and a separated zone with bath and hammam. Everybody in the separated zone wonder nakedly very naturaly, I got used to it, but it first came like a shock to me.
Many people spend the night over there, you can sleep in huge common room directly on the floor made of warm stone.
We also attended a show called Nanta, it’s a musical with no talking, the music is done with kitchen ware and stage 5 actors cooking a diner for a wedding. The show mixing, music, dance, juggling, clowning was astonishing. I think they are touring around the world so if it comes to where you live, I recommend it !
For the first week-end of october we took a trip with Flaming to the south of south Korea to street perform in the Jinhae sakura festival.
We are 5 people : Lee, Yoony, Hoony, Sam and me
At that time of the year, all the cherry trees are in blossom, and they are many of them ! The Cherry blossom is really beautiful, when the wind blows, the flowers are flying in the air just like snow flake, it’s magical.
After dark we set up our equipment and offer our performance on City’s main square. several hundred people came to watch the show and fill up our Hat.
After the show we enjoy some makeli and Korean pizza in one of the many food stall along the streets made pedestrian for the festival.
The week-end over, The Flaming returned to Seoul and we took 2 extra days to visit Busan, another city not far from Jinhae.
We met there Sam’s cousine, studying Engineering for the past 3 years. She show us around, and we ate a lot more food !
Our time being short we just visited one temple called Boemoesa. It s a peaceful monastery in the mountains where mostly retired people go. Me and Sam enjoyed their the nature, and some more trees with millions of flowers.
Once back in Seoul, We enjoyed few more days with Lee and Yoony and ultimately went for a last day of full enjoyement at Everland.
Everland is Korea s best theme park, and it was great indeed, they have a breathtaking roller coaster and a pretty badass zoo, that were worth the trip.
Before leaving Korea for good, we decided to have a last stopover in Jeju island. Jeju is a Charmful small island south of South Korea, a Kind of Korean Corsica.
We met there Sunny a friend we met in Thailand Shambhala festival and India Arambol.
She is no exception to the Korean hospitality I mentioned above. She showed us around and introduce to us the local Fire team Salgoce.
This team of performer coming from France, Korea and Japan are performing on the island and Korea mainland. They also do fire and theater performance. Very surprised to meet same spirited people in this place.
Now is time for us to leave and go back to Dali for the next adventures.
Thanks to all the people we met again on this travel and the new friends we made. Korea i now in our hearts and we will be back !!!