▲ The happy couple dance on Sky Pond during their wedding ceremony at Jeju Stone Park. Photo by Song Jung Hee
Love is play.
These words were printed on the inside of Hong Sin Cha’s and Werner Sasse's wedding invitation.
Recently married on Oct. 9’s Hangeul Day at the Jeju Stone Park, this love performance was both playful and like no other.
“Originally, they were supposed to have the wedding in a palace in Seoul, but we invited them to have the wedding here,” park founder and director Baek Un Chol said. “This is the first and last time to have an event like this here. It was gorgeous.”
Hong performed at the opening of the Park’s Obaekjanggun (500 Generals) Gallery one month prior, and according to Baek, she did it for free. So the wedding opportunity was in return.
Of the wedding’s 500 or so guests, two-thirds were from the mainland or foreign countries including Japan, Germany, and the United States. And there were countless national press cameras to document the Pyeongyang-style ceremony, symbolizing the couple’s desired wishes for reunification between North and South Korea.
“The wedding costume was made 90 years ago,” Hong said. “I happened to meet the man who had this costume in his museum and he conducted the ceremony. He’s glad this costume was in use and showing, displayed and people were able to see it. I think it was special. No one has done this before, the first time. People were able to see what it was, along with the flower hat.”
So too was the opening performance, entitled “Meeting” on top of the park’s Sky Pond, which is the cauldron from Jeju’s mythological goddess Seolmundae Halmang, known for having created the island.
Two dancing flower girls distributed petals gently onto the pond, adorning a path for the bride to meet the bearded groom under an arch. This was followed by both slowly walking, kissing on the cheeks, and a circling around with bows.
The wedding’s next set moved to an open space, featuring two performances by longtime friends of the bride. The first was a traditional Korean Taepyong Dance and was followed by a prompt, spontaneous, modern display dance.
After, a strong rendition of Arirang played with the audience shouting their approval to call in the groom to the table filled with fruits.
Sasse rode a horse entering from stage right. Hong was carried by four men in a hand-held carriage from stage left.
Once off their rides, both bowed several times in front of the table on opposite sides. The presider gave the groom nuts (meaning forever love) and the bride received dates (meaning fertility). Sasse gave Hong a piggyback. She dismounted. They kissed. Voilà. They exited back on their selective modes of transportation and passed in front of the crowd slowly for many, many pictures.
Group photos ensued and the crowd dispersed for servings of noodles and makgeolli.
“I lived all kinds of life,” Hong concluded. “From beginning to end and I have come back and become a child again. Love is not a serious thing. People take it too seriously. If love is not an attachment, it should not be serious.”
So, love is play.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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