Let's see, where was I? Pressing on to Bucheon Stadium? That sounds about right. Rick Steves was on my mp3 player finishing up his conversation about sailing and transitioning into the most threatened historical tourist sites for his Earth Day special and I was walking around the base of the stadium to see what was there besides the jewelry/kite making shops I'd seen last time. (See if you're reading this in reverse chronological order you're probably a little lost right now because this is a continuation of my previous entry, just so you know.)
What I found was pretty exciting: The Korean Comic Book Museum! This was something I could get into! Out front there were a few statues of comic book characters that I mostly didn't recognize and the drains had a path of cartoon faces painted along them. Admittance was about three dollars so I paid my dues and headed in. Everything was in Korean, which wasn't necessarily surprising, since I'm in Korea. Unfortunately I don't know enough Korean to make heads or tails of paragraph after paragraph that I assume lay out the history of Korean comic books, but couldn't be sure. So I walked through the main hall looking at yellowed comic book pages and wondering why each was significant.
In Korea, for some reason, people like to throw a bit of English into everything. The Korean Comic Book Museum was no exception, but it was very little English. The only thing I saw in English was a heading on a display of ... well, of comic books. It said: Comics, the core contents of the digital convergence era of the 21st Century. I've given that a lot of thought. I have no idea what it means. I have a couple of theories, but they've all been constructed by clustering together fancy English words with no in particular point or meaning, so I won't bother you with them.
At the end of the main hall was a wall sized illustration of a girl lying on her back looking up at the vast night sky. I stood there waiting for a few minutes, hoping the girl scout troop between the picture and me would clear out so I could get a shot of it. I wanted to know what the two words in the girl's speech bubble were.
I never got the photograph because a woman who worked at the museum came over and escorted me to a door cut into the bottom right corner of the illustration. She slid it open and indicated that I should enter the tiny room behind it. I did, and she closed the door behind me. I found myself in what I appeared to be a converted closet, and not a very big one. The walls, floor, and ceiling were painted black and all surfaces were covered with twinkle lights. I think I was supposed to feel like I had stepped into the pages of the comic book. It felt more like a Korean woman in a green vest had just escorted me into a shabbily decorated closet and shut me in. I stood in there for about twenty seconds, during which time a string of lights fell off the wall beside me. I chalked it up to second rate animatronics and and let myself out.
After walking through two more rooms of comic books (which I couldn't read) labeled with plaques (which I couldn't read), I reached the grand finale, a room where you could draw your own comic book character on a bit of paper and pay five dollars to have it made into a button. I opted out, but spent more time looking at the wall of abandoned buttons than I had at the entire museum before that. I guess you can put just about anything on a pin back button and I suddenly become interested. It took every ounce of moral fiber in my being to keep from stealing one, but in the end my moral fiber won out.
When I had walked into the museum I'd been thinking, "Awesome! I'll have to bring Dad and Cassandra here when they come visit!" When I walked out I was thinking, "Nevermind." and also, "I'm hungry." I bought a kabob of street meat from a nearby vendor and finished my circuit of the stadium.
At the end of the block that the stadium sits on is a sign that points off the sidewalk and toward some stairs running through a little wood. The sign says 'Lilac Garden' in English and nothing in Korean. At the end of the trail is the Bucheon Public Library. I think this might be a ploy to try and get ignorant, flower-loving tourists to read more. If it is, it has one major flaw. The only English book I stumbled across inside the library was The Cat in the Hat's Picture Dictionary. I did, however, find Shel Silverstein translated into Korean, which really, really made me wish I knew Korean so I could get a feel for how that translation went. Overall, I was just happy to be in a library again. It's been over a year since I got a library fix and the withdrawals were getting messy.
And guess what: the story's not over yet, but I'm stopping again. That's right, I promised one long blog or three short ones. Well, here's short blog number two and trust me when I say that the best is yet to come ....