Day 3: Insa-dong, Mr. Brainwash Exhibition and Noryangjin Fish Market

Wednesday 22nd June

Hello again!

I’m back from my month-long travels up the East Coast of Australia with 12 days to chill and plan my next adventure at my cousin’s place in Melbourne. Although I love travelling and exploring new places, I also love a bit of routine and not having to pack and unpack every few days. Luckily, both my cousin and his flatmate are on their summer holidays from uni (yup, Australia has their summer holidays at the end of the year) so I get the whole flat to myself which is an absolute treat.

The setup here is great. They have a huge desk by the window which I have taken up with notebooks, loose scraps of paper and highlighters.

Anyway, as usual, I digress.

So, let’s just hop back 5 months to our third day in Seoul.

Our first stop of the day was Insa-dong and the train station is full of great artwork.

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Insa-dong Street is a great place for souvenirs with shops that showcase traditional Korean culture with antique art, bookstores, traditional teahouses and craft shops.

However, I was much more interested in visiting Ssamzigil, a multi-cultural space where visitors can shop for a wide variety of traditional arts and crafts.

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As soon as you come in, you are greeted with poo-shaped waffles.

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Adorable exhibitions lined the stairwell.

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My brother bought a gorgeous leather wallet and I bought one for Ry, too. I also purchased a gorgeous pair of pink sunglasses and a couple of cute, arty postcards. So, if you’re into handmade things and cute designs, I’m sure you’ll love this place as much as I did 😉

As it started pissing it down, we ducked into a Korean (surprise, surprise) restaurant for a spot of lunch.

I went for the spicy squid bibimbap but unfortunately it was a bit too spicy for me. The veggies and side dishes were lovely though.

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Our next stop was a short walk towards Jogyesa Temple but I spotted a Mr. Brainwash exhibition at the ARA Modern Art Museum on the way so we popped in to check it out.

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You couldn’t really miss this giant Mr. Potato Head outside.

“Many people want to paint a portrait of them looking nice. However, Mr Brainwash wanted to create an artwork that could make people smile; it is not serious but fun. Therefore, he merged Mr. Potato Head into his style and this Mr. Potato Head is Mr. Brainwash. He said that life is too be enjoyed. It should not be too complicated or serious. We should have fun”.

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As it was the second day of the exhibition, Mr. Brainwash was hanging around. My brother and I recognized him from the Exit Through the Gift Shop documentary and got a cheeky selfie.

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Definitely feeling the Banksy/Andy Warhol influence…

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The art director, Yohan Choi, chose to display Mr. Brainwash’s work because he wanted to introduce something that is rarely seen in Korea. Secondly, he wanted people to have diverse perspectives on art.

He wanted to encapsulate Mr. Brainwash’s liberal thoughts in a standardized space in the museum so he gave up the rules of the museum, letting him demonstrate his imagination to the fullest.

Mr. Brainwash says that everything can be art.

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The exhibition’s aim is for visitors to enjoy what they see and empathise with each other, as opposed to showcasing ambiguous and incomprehensible contemporary art.

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The Camera Room

200 cameras in a small room are used to suggest that someone is always watching you. Mr. Brainwash described the camera as a weapon of the 21st century as there are always cameras on the street and somebody is always watching us from somewhere.

Another reason for this display is that he really likes cameras and he has an obsession with taking photos of everything after his mother passed away when he was young. Cameras can keep moments and beautiful scenes so he collected many cameras.

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The Brush

“A brush is a strong tool that can create art and the brush itself is art”.

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The Boom Box

“I wanted to make something related to music as I believe that it is art. The boom box is something that I grew up with. People proposed with a boom box, had a birthday party with a boom box and had a first dance with a loved one with a boom box. I hope that they will remember the joy and good memories from this artwork”.

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Mr. Brainwash’s Room

“If you want to get close to someone, you have to enter their life. I wanted to share my life and feel close to the Korean audiences through the exhibition.

This room is a replica of my ordinary working room.

For 3 weeks in Korea, I installed all my artwork with my team and produced new artwork related to Korea in this room.

The whole museum is my studio. Art is fun and joyful”.

My review: Great idea but this room was just a place for you to watch him flicking paint at plates on the floor. I can’t say I was blown away.

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It’s good that he kept it culturally-relevant to Korea though!

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I love these juxtapositions of old and new; popular media and fine art.

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MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

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Flicking more paint around the museum.

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If you’re looking for something to watch, I’d recommend Exit Through the Gift Shop.

It’s all about Banksy, other street artists and Mr. Brainwash’s bizarre rise to fame in the art world.

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Gift shop goodies.

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Next up, we walked over to the Jogyesa Temple, one of Korea’s most famous Buddhist temples.

It offers temple stay programs for foreigners which is the first time that I’ve heard of temples doing that…

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After wandering around the temple, we headed over to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the first royal palace built in the Joseon Dynasty where the Joseon Dynasty’s 500-year history began.

It is the largest of the five grand palaces remaining in Seoul, providing a glimpse into Joseon’s royal culture, palace life and architecture.

Unfortunately, we got there just as it was closing…

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Back to the train station, we go!

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Our final stop of the day was the Noryangjin Fish Market, a 24-hour, wholesale fish market.

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Established in 1927, it is the largest seafood market in Korea.

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Although I read that the prices are supposedly 30-40% cheaper than supermarkets, we found that the seafood was really overpriced, especially when individual seating charges at the restaurants and a fee to cook your fresh purchases were added into the equation.

So unfortunately, we didn’t eat here.

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Neverthless, we did have some yummy noodles for dinner so I can’t complain too much 😉

Plus, I love a good sunset!

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See you soon for day 4 😉

xxx

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