20 September 2008

A few more noteworthy sights

I just spent a few hours in Jamsil district, in the southeast of Seoul, noteworthy as the neighborhood that hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics - and my longtime home. Jamsil is home to a huge complex called Lotte World, which includes, among many things, a folk museum and a posh department store. I took tons of photos there - and although it's highly doubtful that Sarah will ever visit Jamsil during her Seoul layovers, if she ever comes out this way, she will find the following to be of interest.

A Goryeo-era (918-1392 CE) Buddhist shrine reconstruction. In the middle is Amidabha Buddha. On the left is Kwan Yin, the transgender Goddess of Mercy. Dunno about the right.

The practitioners of Korean shamanism are called mudang, and are always female. Women became mudang through being possessed by spirits, as opposed to voluntarily, and have occupied lower ranks of the society. Some mudang were transgender women, though that's something that the Confucio-Christian historians of modern-day South Korea would rather deny. Here, a wax model mudang makes her sacrifices to the various spirits.

The department store has several floors of cutting-edge women's fashion, from Korean and foreign designers alike. I spotted these two mannequins, one wearing a boxy cardigan and a mini, the other wearing a cowlneck sweater and a sheer pair of leggings. Both are looks that both Sarah and I love to wear. Lots of leggings-clad women today (including the daring "I forgot my pants" Mary-Kate Olsen look) - I could've sworn it was the 1980s (except that Seoul was much less affluent back then).

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