My Korean friend Grace--aka Mijeong--invited me and two of my girlfriends (Diana and Leah) to come and stay with her family in Jinju, South Korea, for a weekend. I was game as soon as I knew home cooking was involved. Grace also mentioned that some art festival was going on, but I didn't really think anything of it, as she didn't seem to make a huge deal out of it when she mentioned it to me.
We rented a car (pretty reasonable, when split four ways), for the four hour drive down to Jinju:
As you can see, Jinju is pretty close to Namhae, where I went on vacation for Chuseok two weeks ago.
Grace's family was ADORABLE. We stayed at Grace's sister's massive house, where Grace's Mom and three super-cute nephews lived, too...the youngest of whom is only thirteen months old and is SO. FLIPPIN'. CUTE.
Grace and her family call him "돼지" (Dwae-che), meaning "pig" in Korean, because he is a tad chubby
Grace's Mom spoke no English, but that didn't stop her from miming that I was thin and needed to eat more (and more) of the delicious homemade cream pasta/rice/noodles/sandwiches that she prepared for me and the girls. Grace's sister was ridiculously nice, letting us sleep in the kid's toy room and throughly muck up her bathrooms/floors/apartment. It was so nice to eat with the kids, sleep in a real home, and play with the nephews: all three are Wunder Kids, who speak good English. No surprise, as their house was packed with books, educational toys, and a piano. Grace told me that Jinju is something of an education capital in Korea: her family relocated there from Busan just so she could go to high school and university there, and has remained there so the three boys can eventually do the same.
During the day on Saturday, we drove to Namhae (deja vu) to play badminton/drink/sit on the beach.
Our beautiful hostess
From left: Grace, Leah, Diana, me
I'M SO EXCITED WOOOOOOOO
Leah in Korea
Leah and I couldn't resist taking some rather ridiculous pictures in front of a goofy/random garlic museum on Namhae:
Me + happy garlic man
Garlic + bear + saucy leg-flashing
Saturday night, we went back to Jinju for the "little" art festival that Grace had told me about before, only to be informed that we were at one of the biggest floating lantern festivals in East Asia:
The lanterns ranged from traditional drums...
...to silly Spider-Man (+Diana)...
...and Teletubbies (+ Diana, me, and Leah)
The lanterns + Jinju castle in the background
The lanterns were gorgeous, but my favorite display was an exhibit of locally made "wish lanterns" made by area elementary, middle, and high school students:
Spot the Pickachu!
The Little Prince^^
This was a high school student's ><
Endless tunnel o' lanterns...
On Sunday, we went to Jinju castle with Grace's family, where we picnicked and played a few traditional Korean games:
Grace + her nephew and family friends, doing archery
Where the royal meals were eaten
Changing of the guard ceremony
Jinju was invaded twice by the Japanese in the 1500's--it is an important historical center in Korea, so there was a lot to do and see. Grace told me that every city that ends with "ju" in Korea is historically significant in some way, in essence translating to "municipality".
I am so lucky to have such an amazing friend in Korea as Grace, who I think the world of. Not only is she gorgeous, she is an amazing English speaker who has traveled all over the world and is basically like my big sister here in Korea. She is leaving in November to go to Australia for a year, and I am probably going to cry and be all weepy when she leaves TT