Global Village Center: Helping whom?
I headed to the Yeonnam Global Village Center last Friday for a Korean kite making seminar they had set up in hopes that I could learn how to do something cultural while I’m not working instead of wasting away in front of the television.
My expectations were rather high I suppose as I’ve heard good things about what they’re doing and how they’re helping foreigners, but came home rather crushed at how fake and invasive the whole thing felt.
I arrived to a room with about ten foreigners and just as many photographers. I hadn’t read anything about being used in a promotion and after entering hadn’t even been asked if it was okay to have my photo taken. This bothered me, and so of the thirty some photos of me making a kite now on Naver I think I’m only smiling in 5 of them. The other foreigners seemed just as uncomfortable as they took turns holding their kites in front of their faces so as not to be in the photos. The photographers were constantly asking someone to move so their face could be seen in the shot.
Looking at the Global Center’s website, I was aware there would be “a” photographer there because they do seem to document their activities for those participating to download later, but this was above and beyond that. There were photographers from at least four different news outlets, as I can now see online, and I’m not sure who asked them to come.
The program which was to last 2 hours was spent mostly posing. The first 15 minutes we were holding kites we hadn’t even made just so they could get shots of us holding kites. At that point the Global Village workers stepped in and told our kite teacher to please begin the event. That’s when it seemed to me that maybe the photographers weren’t asked here by them, but by the kite teacher himself. He seemed more interested in getting a shot of him helping us make kites than bothering to explain how to do it. That could explain why we all had to take our kites apart and redo them after the first few instructions because he wasn’t really helping us.
We finished thirty minutes earlier than the projected time, which means of the hour and a half we were “making kites” we were actually having pictures taken of us at the beginning with fake kites and at the end with our kites for about 20 minutes. I’m not sure who invited all of the photographers, whether it was the kite making teacher or the Global Village Center trying to promote themselves, I think at the very least we should have been asked if we wanted to have our photos taken and been told what they were for. If I was more of a confrontational person I would have said something, but since I had already paid my W5,000 before I realized what was happening around me, I just wanted to get my kite finished and get out of there.
If I decide to participate in another event or seminar at one of the Global Village Centers around Seoul, I will be sure to ask in the email how many photographers will be attending to decide if I really want to participate or not.