Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eat for the Camera!

I just realized that I never did write that blog about the filming… and now I have a blog about the Greenplugged Rock Festival that I want to write as well.

I guess first things first… the filming…

I have to admit that filming the travel show was a lot more tiring than I thought it would be. And I still don’t quite understand why, since we didn’t actually do a whole lot of on camera work. For me, it was mostly walking around and asking what things were and wh

at people were doing and then eating… a lot. And yet, and the end of the first two-day shoot, I was utterly exhausted.

Day One: Jirisan

I started my first day at 4 am. I had to meet the crew at 6 am at my office to head out to our destination and since I was up until 1 am working on a radio script, I decided to just get up early and pack instead of staying up later. Needless to say, as soon as we set off on our four-hour drive down to Jirisan, I passed out. As did my translator, Jun-soo. Of course, not before chatting a bit and getting to know each other some.

Once at the mountain, the camera guys made us get out of the van on the two-lane highway so they could get some shots of the van driving up the road and a pretty little creek. We then arrived at the little restaurant/lodging house where we were filming. The first hour or so involved a lot of just me walking up the little road to their house and looking at the scenery around me. (I was told to look excited… not a whole lot of excitement to be found in staring at trees.) And then I got up to the house and had to ask the couple in Korean what were the giant swatches of leaves spread out on the ground and what they were doing with them. I had no idea what they were saying, but the director told me to just nod and say things like, “Ah,” and “Creyo,” and such. This went well, until the woman said she would make me lots of good food in Korean. I had no idea, and they didn’t know she would say it, so my response was, “Ah.” There was a couple seconds of awkward silence before someone yelled, “Kamsahamida!” from behind the camera. We all started laughing and went through the shot again, this time with me being more prepared with my responses.

After this, we waited for the food to be prepared and then moved to a large living room where a table was set up. I was a little nervous about them filming me as I ate, since I tend to be a bit of messy eater, but it turned out to be okay. I was told to focus on the food and the couple, so I didn’t notice the camera to my right side. It was kind of awkward. I had to ask them questions about the food (sannamul- basically leaves from the mountain that are used as side dishes and in bibimbap) in English, then my translator would yell it in Korean from behind the camera. They would answer in Korean, then she would yell it to me in English. And then they had the woman feed me several of the sannamul. At first it was okay, but then she fed me a couple of lettuce wraps and put a little too much food in it. And of course, I had to eat bibimbap… which to say the least, is not my favorite Korean meal.

After the eating wrapped and the crew got a chance to eat, we headed up the mountain so they could film me collecting sannamul with the couple. They told me to chat about how it reminded me of my mother’s garden when we lived in Oklahoma. (I hated it. Mom made us weed.) Then, we were done and back on the road heading to the next town where we would stay for the night. We stopped and had some delicious bulgogi (I think the area is famous for it) which was very welcomed after a lunch with nothing but leaves. Once at the pension, Jun-soo and I bid everyone good-night and crashed in our room, despite the producer trying ever so hard to get us to stay up and drink with him and the crew.

Day Two: Seomjin River

Our second day of filming dawned bright and early… at 7 am. We all got dressed and packed the van up, only to realized as we started down the road that someone left the back of the van open and my backpack and some other bags were now strewn about the highway. Once we got that cleaned up, we headed to a maesil village that sat on top of a really big hill and looked over the river. It was really quite beautiful to look at early in the morning. There was more walking and looking around at the trees and flowers. Then walking through a maze of kimchi pots full of fermenting maesil (maesil- a small, plume-looking fruit that is green. It’s suppose to help with tummy problems… ended up upsetting mine…).

After that, we headed down to the river where they filmed me talking to a fisherman who scraped the bottom of the river for jaechap (jaechap- tiny, little clams/cockles). It was a lot more interesting being on the boat and I naturally had a lot of questions to ask the man. The camera guy definitely didn’t have to tell me to look interested this time. And I was use to the translating arrangement by now. The fisherman even let me try getting jaechap… though I kind of sucked at it.

After this, we headed up to a restaurant to film me eating jaechap. Jun-soo and I ended up taking a nap while waiting for the food to be ready. This time went much quicker and easier because I didn’t have to ask questions. The ahjumma at the restaurant just talked about all the food and pointed at dishes when she wanted me to try them. Then I had to say how it tasted and if I liked it (which for the camera, I did). I honestly didn’t really like jaechap because it was too fishy-tasting for me. The director said it was because I’m foreign. I said it’s because I don’t like fish… and most foreigners like fish.

After this, we drove about an hour to a different part of the river. There sat an oyster boat with an oyster diver. I knew immediately this was going to fun because as soon as we were introduced, the diver was teasing me in Korean for not being able to speak Korean. We filmed more shots of me walking up to the boat and asking what he was doing. Then he invited me on board and for the first time the whole trip, I understood what he was saying and responding accordingly in Korean.

We all got on the boat and he told me about diving and the oysters (which were called cherry blossom oysters). I asked a lot of questions. Then he dove in and proceeded to stay under for a couple hours while we all sat bored onboard. Jun-soo and I discovered that little crabs were getting sent up with the bags of oysters, so we began chasing them around the boat and throwing them back into the water. One of the camera guys thought this was entertaining so he followed us for a bit. Then we watched the diver’s assistant for a bit while he cleaned up the oysters and packed them up. He fed us a couple of raw oysters, which were good, but a lot more salty than I’m use to. Jun-soo said that they just went out of season, which is why they didn’t taste as good right now.

Eventually, the diver came up and we filmed talking a bit more. Then I had to eat another raw oyster with him. After docking, we loaded up and headed to his house, where there was going to be a full blown party. None of the restaurants in town were serving oyster, so he said for the show he would invite several of his friends and co-workers over and have an oyster-grilling party. Again, tons of fun. The best way to eat grilled oyster is to wrap it in kimchi. Sooo tasty. Of course, there was the necessary feeding of me and then me shouting, “Masshisoyo!” I think about five or six ahjussis took turns feeding me bites of oyster.

After this, we loaded up into the van and began our long, four-hour drive back to the city.

And the next day I got food poisoning.

Day Three: Gongju and Flower Gardens

The following weekend, we set out for one more day of filming. We were headed to a flower farm in South Chungchong Province. However, upon arrival, the owner wasn’t there, so we headed over to film in the city of Gongju where there was a group of famous tombs from the Baekje Dynasty.

Of course, there was more walking and looking around. We went into a museum and they filmed me looking around the artifacts, then walking around the tombs. We then headed over to the flower farm again.

This time, we did food first. By the time we got back, the food was all spread out on the table. I felt like I was looking at a series of centerpieces, not my meal. The owner explained that eating flowers was very healthy and he got the idea from hearing about restaurants that served edible flowers in Europe. Now, Koreans are really into eating flowers. It was interesting to find that each flower had a very distinctive taste. One tasted very citrus-y, similar to a lemon. While some were pretty bitter and others tasted like lettuce.

I ate peonies and gladiolas in a salad and on a dessert sandwich with a jam made from flowers and nuts that tasted really sweet and similar to peanut butter. We then had… more bibimbap. It was better than the sannamul, but still not a fan.

Afterwards, I walked around the garden with the farmer as he explained the different kinds of flowers and had me try them. He was really funny and kept me entertained. Once we were done, we loaded into the van and headed back to the city once again. I finished off the night eating Chinese food. I wasn’t hungry at all, but I still ate. I came to regret this the next day when I woke up with yet another massive stomach ache…

All in all, a fun experience. My episode airs on June 22 on Arirang TV. I’m anxious to see it, but a little nervous at the same time. I saw clips of it while doing voiceover work and it was a little embarrassing seeing myself on TV…

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