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Donna N. Murphy
Feb. 17, 2014

I served as U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim’s “control officer” for the American Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Inaugural Ball. The ball’s theme, “Texas,” was everywhere in evidence. On their way to the ballroom, guests strolled through cactus gardens, passed sunset silhuettes of men on horseback, and posed with human, gold and silver “statues “ of cowboys. We entered through an opening in a longhorn cattle skull. The ballroom stage sported a pair of twelve-foot tall, star-lit cowboy boots, and dining tables featured centerpieces with cowboy hats and desert flora.

Incoming Board of Governors Chairman James Kim greeted us with a hearty “Yeehaw,” as did AmCham Korea’s President Amy Jackson, who embodied the spirit of the occasion in her flouncy black and white frock and her big Texas hair. The Ambassador told audience members to rustle up some grub, wet their whistles, and dance the two-step, which he translated into standard English as “eat, drink, and be merry.”
Attendees dined on BBQ beef brisket tacos, Texas black bean soup, and grilled beef tenderlion with southwestern Béarnaise sauce. The winner of my trophy for best representation of theme, however, was the dessert. A green meringue cactus “wore” a chocolate cowboy hat, flanked by a chocolate pecan pie “wall,” a white chocolate sign that read “Texas,” a scoop of whisky ice cream, grapefruit wedges, peanut brittle “rocks,” and a silver sheriff’s badge that looked suitable for pinning on a leather vest, but was edible, too.
Auctioneer Henry An provided such useful advice as “feel free to bid against yourself” and “hold your bidding paddle in one hand, and a stiff drink in the other” before auctioning off packages, one of which included business-class airline tickets to Texas and hotel stays in Houston, San Antonio and Austin. After dinner, professional dancers taught line dancing to eager participants on a crowded dance floor.

The next day, Tom was out of town and I was feeling antsy, so I visited four museums. I would have preferred to do this on our Presidents Day holiday, but most museums in Korea, as in Japan, are closed Mondays. The first three museums were about Korean history, which has often been tragic. Korea was ruled by the Joseon dynasty that kept society tightly bound in a Confucian straight jacket for five centuries, before a brief period as an Empire, followed by a 35-year annexation to Japan. Then came the Cold-War division of the country and the Korean War, until finally, South Korea burst forth as the economic “Miracle on the Han River.”

Due to the occupation, war, looting, and modernization, not many old artifacts and buildings remain, but the Koreans kept one building for symbolic significance. Koreans designed their new City Hall to resemble a wave crashing over the top of an older building from the Japanese occupation era.

The fourth museum I stumbled on because it was behind the third one. It housed a temporary exhibit of pen and ink drawings and calligraphy. For me, this was a real treat.


May 2017 White Privilege
April 29, 2017 Climate March
Jan. 5, 2017 Williamsburg
December 5, 2016
May 30, 2016
Feb 15, 2016
Dec. 31, 2015
Nov. 29, 2015 Mexico and England
Oct. 31, 2015 Colombia and Peru
Sept. 23, 8015 Pope Francis
June 28, 2015
May 24, 2015
March 20, 2015
Feb. 12, 2015
Jan. 1, 2015
Nov. 30, 2014
Oct. 15, 2014 Clare's wedding
Sept. 29, 2014
Aug. 16, 2014
July 4, 2014 Farewell Korea!
June 24 Empowering Women
June 8, 2014
April 30, 2014
March 29, 2014
Feb. 17, 2014
Jan. 30, 2014
Dec. 28, 2013
Nov. 27, 2013
Oct. 27, 2013
Sept. 18, 2013
Aug. 19 Bali
July 7, 2013
June 6, 2013
May 5, 2013
Apr. 1-12 North Korea
Mar. 14 - New Zealand
Feb. 2, 2013
Jan. 10, 2013
Dec. 19, 2012
Nov. 23, 2012
Nov. 8, 2012
Oct. 2, 2012
Sept. 3, 2012
July 25, 2012
July 15, 2012
July 4, 2012
Copyright 2017 by Donna N. Murphy