Mokpo

Last weekend I headed down to Mokpo, South Korea to visit my amazing friend, Ilka.  Ilka and I met when we both lived in Gangwon-do.  She lived in a town north of Samcheok.  I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I hit the rainy season in East Asia–both Mokpo and Seoul are a bit soppy.

Fortunately, there was very little rain on Sunday so we were able to explore a bit of Mokpo.  I think Ilka and I walked for about 4 hours.  We just kept going.  Above you can see the marshy area we found that is right next to the water.  We encountered many exciting things including a lost child with a scraped knee, Choco pies, a vacant dock, exercise equipment and undergarments!

After our walk we went home to freshen up and then made our way to a fantastic coffee shop in Mokpo.  Ilka convinced the owner to participate in the Body Project.  Ilka’s friend Annie met us at the coffee shop.  They both filled out a Body Card in Afrikaans–they are from South Africa.

Look at the hat above and to the left.  I need that.

After the coffee shop we proceeded to dinner and then to one of the most important parts of Mokpo, the reason why Mokpo is called “City of Light.”

Below are Ilka and Annie!  Look at how well they planned their outfits to match their selected light display!

Monday morning I went to Ilka’s school for a couple of hours.  She teaches in a huge elementary school that is about 5 times the size of my beloved Guendeok.  Two of her students (sisters nonetheless) just won the speech contest which is a huge deal.  You may remember Chad and I doing something similar with our students.  The situation tugged at my heartstrings a bit.  To level the playing field in this particular province the school system decided that each student would perform the same speech.  Back when we were teachers, our students did an excellent job at the speech contest but they are from a country school and those students are rarely have the privilege of private tutoring that the city kids have.  There is no real way to actually level the playing field (EPIK was a help), though I’m glad they are trying.  The kids that do it love it.  When Ilka was congratulating her students and telling them how proud she was of them she also emphasized that she was proud of them even if they didn’t win.  I loved getting to be in that environment again AND I got to eat school lunch!  Yes, I love school lunch!

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