Lee So Myung, Korean Artist; A Language Cafe Delight

   I'm in Busan, a bustling metropolis in Southern South Korea by the Haeundae beach. I haven't seen the beach yet because it started raining. I will get there soon enough with guitar in hand! They say it's a well-known spot for buskers.

   I'm here on a Workaway exchange program. I volunteer to engage local Koreans in conversational English in exchange for dormitory-style lodging and some basic food essentials.

   The program is called a "Language Cafe". It sounded intriguing and fun.

   Language exchange is a method of language learning based on mutual language practicing by learning partners who are speakers of different languages. This is usually done by two native speakers teaching each other their native language. Wikipedia

   I've been informed that the program is in transition. Rather than a Language Cafe it will be a Korean Language Learning School. Volunteer teachers will become students who will learn to speak Korean as well as teach English. This actually works to my benefit. I had studied Korean a bit three years ago but was unable to continue. Now I will have the chance to continue. Our work/study week is from Monday to Thursday, four hours per day. This leaves plenty of time for touring and exploring around Busan. 

Lee So Myung: Korean ARTIST

   If my first "student" is any indication of the delights of language exchange at this "cafe" then it is certain that this is another wonderful way to experience South Korea.

   Conversations more often than not begin with greetings and introductions; Hello, my name is Rahel. Hello, my name is So Myung. Nice to meet you. I don't know why, but the woman's name sounded interesting to me. Names are often meaningful and I was curious. I asked So Myung about her name. She explained that "So" means "pure & white", and "Myung" means "bright" (like the light of the sun and the moon). As I listened and looked at this beautiful soft-spoken woman I could see that the name seemed to fit her perfectly. I shared the meaning of my name, "Rahel"Hebrew for Rachel,which is actually my middle name, means "ewe, a little lamb". My full Hebrew name is Chana Rahel. "Chana" means "grace". So I am a little lamb full of grace! She said it was "cute".

   Towards the end of our first hour So Myung received a phone call. She shared with me that she had just received very good news. I learned that So Myung is an artist and that one of her paintings was just accepted by a publisher. It will be used as a cover for a book that is written by a female Buddhist monk. WOW! That IS good news. It was also a nice opening to speak about her profession and especially to see and learn about her paintings.

   So Myung is the daughter of two artists who also achieved some acclaim.

   They advised her not to go into the profession however. We all know the challenges artists face in trying to make a living. So Myung did as all artists (should) do. She followed her heart and let her soul speak.

   Our next hour was spent with So Myung sharing and telling me about some of her beautiful paintings. She told me that she also gives workshops and teaches about Korean traditional art. The Cafe director rang the bell to signal that our two-hour conversational session had ended. I was very happy to have met such a talented and very personable woman. I look forward to more inspirational cafe chats as well as to learning Korean and more about Korean culture too!

   With So Myung's permission I am sharing her Facebook page (Somyung Lee이소명) where you can view her work. I will share some photos below.



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