The Fishport Festival

Festival grounds

There are times when being heavily, heavily visible in a foreign country can suck. You’re a target for, well, everything. Stares and invective and anger and nationalistic tides of xenophobic distaste. At the same time, because you’re so visible, you’re also an easy target for pleasantness and the great weirdities of life. Being some of the only foreigners to attend the local Sorae Port Festival, we were stopped at different times in the day to: be interviewed for television and/or promotional subway materials, join a large group of middle-aged Koreans to share in their soju and fresh fish, do some handicrafts typically meant only for kids, receive free calligraphy scrolls, and be adopted by a man who claimed to be a local fishboss (I have decided this is a word). We were invited to do these things because we were weird lookin’ and the people around us felt in a sharing mood, and we stick out as being share-with-able. Being impossible to miss has its perks. Enjoy the glory of the Sorae Festival, in photoglut form.

For the record, this television interview actually occurred within the first five minutes of entering the festival. We bluffed, and claimed it to be awesome. Lucky for us, it turns out we weren’t lying.

The gong





I stopped briefly to ask some nice ajosshis if I could photograph them grilling a fish they had recently caught. As I stooped to take a photo, someone clasped my wrist and brightly suggested, “Soju?!” Suddenly we were in the party, being give freshly grilled shrimp and makgeolli. One guy tried very hard to speak to me, but did not quite really ever get that I needed him to speak about 90% slower than he was. Still, generous!
The posse



Gateway to fishport

We tried looking for these paper visors all day. I was rewarded with the one we found in the garbage because I had to stand in line for food the longest. (It was for pajeon, and thus worth it.)

In the road

The lights

14 thoughts on “The Fishport Festival

  1. In my mind you are morphing from a fellow teacher in Incheon who has been here longer into a sort of psuedo-celebrity. I think it is the fact that I follow the minutiae of your life online and have never met you – the only other people that happens to are celebrities, and thus you must be one, right?

    If I ever run into you in Bupeyong, you’ll have to autograph my arm or something.

  2. No, it wasn’t the seafood, it was the fact that he now has a Blackberry and is moving into the technology generation…there will be more comments, I’m sure, because now he doesn’t have to go onto the actual computer, he has access to you at his fingertips and on his hip at all times!

  3. great post! love the pictures. the desire to go to Korea is building to the point where people are saying, “you need to shut up just go already!”

  4. I love the photos of the ajosshis–even through the lens of a camera, you can feel their friendliness.

    During your stay thus far, how often have you encountered “nationalistic tides of xenophobic distaste”?

    • It’s been pretty rare, thankfully. The occasional person will get up in your grille and tell you, basically, “Yankee go home.” Once refused from a place where you basically get a room with your friends that looks over a cool area, as it was a “Korean bar.” This is, of course, minor pittances and nothing that will make me flee for the hills or cry to the heavens, although at the time each of these suck.

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