HomeArticlesScreening Humanity | 인간극장 – The Guesthouse Couple of the Andes, part 1 (2015.09.08)
Screening Humanity | 인간극장 – The Guesthouse Couple of the Andes, part 1 (2015.09.08)
September 1, 2019
(The Guesthouse Couple of the Andes, Part 1) (Peru) The journey was long and difficult. (Lima) (Cusco) To get to this place, one must cross the Andes from Lima, the capital of Peru. This city sits on a basin 3,400 meters above sea level, on a bed of mountains. (Cusco, Peru) This is Cusco. In Quecha, it means “the center of the world.” Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire. Spain conquered the area in the 16th century, and built cathedrals and palaces on the Incan ruins. That is why every corner of the city is a testament to the legend of the Inca empire and the history of colonialism. It’s winter, but the weather feels like fall. Once a week, Dongsu and his wife take a very special walk. They head to the Plaza de Armas. Should I walk like this? – Walk in a straight line. / – Like this? Is today a special day? Well… They’re having an Independence Day event. That’s why there’s no one here. There’s an Independence Day event. Would you like some bread? They baked bread for the homeless. This is what they do, all over the city. Have some bread. The old man is hesitant. (Gil Dongsu, 53) He’s thanking his god for the food. He’s thanking his gods, not us. Some people like to save the bread for their children. (Park Eunmi, 42) They see a child in traditional clothes. Did you have breakfast? Lunch? This is a gift. Eat it when you’re hungry. Where are you from? – From my village. / – Which village is that? – Sicuani Village. / – Sicuani? You came all the way from there? – Did you come today? / – Yesterday. I’ll bring you more bread next time. Do you have 1 sol? – No. / – Never mind, I have one. Villagers from rural towns dress in traditional garb to earn money by taking photos. The couple has given away all the bread in their bag. Now, they can take in the city. There’s a Mexican wedding going on. It’s bringing life to the square. South Americans are known for being passionate people who love music and dancing. And Koreans are no different. Dance with her. – Who? / – Her. – Her? / – Her. The ladies are telling me to take away the bag. I’m letting her dance with him. They’ve been married 7 years. Thanks to her confidence in their relationship, Dongsu is having a good time. Cusco is a small city of 350,000. The couple has been living here for 11 years. Like most days, she’s busy making breakfast. She may live halfway around the world, but she cooks Korean meals 3 times a day. Despite the spread, meals here aren’t the same. I craved perilla leaves so much that I planted the seeds myself. (Park Eunmi, 42) But the sun’s too strong at this altitude, so the plants would only grow to be 5cm tall. But after that, they kept dying out, so I placed them in a greenhouse, then under an umbrella, but they still wouldn’t grow. It must not be suitable, given the altitude. Since she runs a guesthouse, she makes breakfast at the same time daily. She has to set the table before the guests come out for breakfast. Meanwhile, Dongsu tends to the kids. I have to wake him. Wake up. Doyeong, the older son, wakes up to his dad’s back and leg rub. Massage. Massage. They were all born here. He was the first Korean child born in Cusco. She’s the second. Uyeong’s the third. This is what life is like for me here. Wake up. Your mom’s here. I said, wake up. Gil Doyeong! It’s time for you to go to kindergarten. You should stretch, okay? Stretch. – Do my back. / – Back? I’ll massage you. What kind of Spiderman are you? (Gil Doyeong, 6) They managed to wake him up, but he is still in a daze. You’re too big to act like such a baby. Now that Doyeong is up, the breakfast table is now filled. Dongsu and Eunmi began this guesthouse after settling in Peru. On top of the guests, their friends come by, too, so the mornings are always lively. Your kindergarten teacher told you not to bring toys to school. You didn’t wash your face, did you? Seoyeong woke up a little late. – Did you just fart? / – I farted! Seoyeong farted! – I’ll bring you your backpack. / – Daddy! The nanny is getting Uyeong ready to go out. He’ll be 100 days old soon. Their nanny, Justina, checks Uyeong’s diapers meticulously. It’s like this every morning when we head out… They head to work with their nanny and three kids. Mom. I can tell you didn’t wash your face. I’m sweating. Mommy, am I sweating? You’re not sweating. Sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” again. ‘Twinkle twinkle’ They start out the day with a feel-good song. Doyeong, Seoyeong, hold my hand. Hold your brother’s hand. Let’s cross the street. Like many South American cities, Cusco was built around the town square. Accordingly, the path to work is quite pleasant. That used to be Doyeong’s. That shirt used to be Doyeong’s. Old, narrow paths lead to the plaza. Deep into the plaza is the couple’s restaurant. I’ve heard about the new massage spot… Hello. Sarangchae is the only Korean restaurant in Cusco. The place is popular with Korean tourists, and lately, a hot spot for locals as well. Use your chopsticks like this. Try it. Use your chopsticks, not your fork. Chopsticks are new to most Peruvians. – Can you mix this for me? / – Sure. – Shall I put in all of the chili paste? / – Yes. She always provides good service for her regulars. Bibimbap is popular in Peru. They don’t try to cater to the locals’ tastes. They keep the food authentic. This is called “bibimbap.” It’s as if you are my mother. Eunmi’s tender loving care keeps the customers coming back. They’re regulars here. It’s delicious. At times like this, cooking can be rewarding. After she had Uyeong, Eunmi couldn’t work, as she took time off for postpartum care. Although her employees are experienced, every kitchen needs a head chef. She guides her kitchen staff adeptly. This work is perfect for her, given her work ethic and her fearlessness. I’ve always loved cooking. Even when I was in KOICA. I ran up the biggest food bill. And that was possible because I was the oldest female member on the team. The younger staff often came over to eat. That afternoon… Young men and women show up at their door. They’re Dongsu’s Korean Cultural Center students. We’re late because we had to go to the hospital. Hello. Big Bang? Red Velvet? WHO’s NEXT? TVXQ? Hello. These are the teachers and the volunteers. These two guys are going to sing and dance. They’re holding a Korean Cultural Festival soon. They’re here to prepare for CusKorea. CusKorea will begin at 10 a.m. If you can, come early to help set up the booth. The Korean team is also going to perform. Would you like to see them dance? Here? They want to see the Korean kids dance. Many Peruvian teens wish to visit Korea. The students can’t take their eyes off of these kids who are from the place of Hallyu. Sistar, Sistar! It’s now time for Peru’s Sistar to dance. In the last few years, Hallyu has taken Peru by storm. Peruvians came to Eunmi and Dongsu to learn Korean after falling in love with K-pop. Eunmi and Dongsu privately funded and opened up a Korean Culture Center. I don’t even know these dance moves. Wow. Aren’t they good? Yeah. – I don’t know that song, either. / – Me, neither. I know most of the pop songs out there, but I don’t know that one. That’s so cool. (Gil Dongsu, 53) We didn’t open the Center right away. We used to teach Korean during off hours at the restaurant, then we began the Center. When these local kids came to me to ask them to teach the Korean language, I was very impressed with them. And I felt proud of Korea, too. So I had no choice but to teach them. And soon after, I had 50 kids showing up at my door wanting to learn Korean. Dongsu and Eunmi came to Peru as KOICA volunteers in 2004. They headed a project to develop porcelain souvenirs to promote tourism. The project was successful. Naturally, the two became very close. When they were about to return to Korea, the locals wanted to learn more from them, and asked Eunmi and Dongsu to stay. That’s how they ended up staying in Peru. I began to learn more about Peruvian culture. I visited the local homes, and discovered that they live in the same house as their livestock. They even eat alongside them. Seeing that made changed my view on things. I asked myself, “Why did I come here?” I intially came here to relax and have fun. I only did my basic assignments, and that was it. But seeing how they lived, they needed more. And if I were to give just a bit more of myself… I wasn’t expecting to turn their lives around, but I could give them a chance to help them make life different. (The Guesthouse Couple of the Andes, Part 1) Dongsu drives down a rough, unpaved road as he heads out for a long trip. He arrives at a village 2 hours from the city. He was asked by the villagers to visit. There are many kinds of potatoes here. I don’t have every variety of potato found in Peru. I only brought a few that are indigenous to this region. I have about 70 varieties here. You asked which potatoes take the least time to cook? Try it. We cooked the potatoes you see here. These over here. Potatoes are the only profitable crop they grow. They’d like to find a way to sell these potatoes, and have turned to Dongsu for advice. He says this potato is red on the inside. These are also used for chicha, a local beverage. They’re great with corn. There are over 1,000 official varieties of potatoes in Peru. What about ones that become porridge when boiled? You can peel and boil them into porridge. He carries the kind of potatoes Dongsu’s looking for. They’re marketable because they’re easy to cook. He even brought a picture. It must be a hard variety to come by. (Gil Dongsu, 53) All they do is boil the potatoes. In Korea, we’d turn slice them thinly to make into chips, but only big corporations in Lima could do that here. The farmers here don’t really know where to start to sell these potatoes. I’m trying to help them figure out ways to market what they have, with what I know. Potatoes are an important crop in the Andes, and have been since the time of the Inca Empire. The farmers here have great pride in their potatoes. Take a look. This is what they look like. These potatoes are so sweet that they can be eaten raw. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I heard there were so many potatoes during the Inca empire, that every family grew a different variety of potato on their land. When there was a feast or a wedding, they would invite their neighbors, and treat them to the type of potato they grew. That’s how much variety there was. Dongsu tries to figure out the best way to help these farmers, and the villagers want to show him more of what they can do. This woman is weaving cloth made from alpaca wool. The work is entirely done by hand, but it’s sold for very cheap. She crafts the fabric expertly, even without an outline of the design. It’s a throw blanket. These blankets are worn as shawls or used to wrap up goods. It is an all-purpose cloth. It’s already lunchtime. Lunch has been prepared for Dongsu, who has traveled a long way. The villagers have prepared a very special meal for the foreigner. It’s the traditional Peruvian dish, cuy. Cuy is a traditional food in Peru. It is made for special guests, since the old days. I don’t know if I’m a special guest. Dongsu is touched by such a warm welcome. This is a part of the kitchen, right? What’s this? It’s our fireplace. We stuff this fireplace with wood and start a fire, and the smoke goes out this way. This cozy, traditional kitchen reminds us of the old kitchens of Korea. Finally, it’s time to eat. “Cuy” means guinea pig in Spanish. Dongsu has no trouble eating exotic foods. This is good. Cuy was eaten during the days of the Incas. Dongsu’s a real Peruvian now. (David Condory, 35) I’ve worked with Dongsu on a number of projects. We want to help each other. We want to see if he can help us. We’re in need of the most fundamental things. We also need to improve our technology. Thank you. He isn’t obligated to do this for them, but Dongsu takes the work on as if it is his own. (Gil Dongsu, 53) They want to create changes to make progress, but they don’t know where to begin. That’s why many give up. I can accept that, but that will be passed on to their kids, too. When I think of that, I get angry. A few days have passed. Chores are waiting to be done this weekend. (Park Eunmi, 42) This is an oxygen tank. It runs out faster than you’d think. We fill it with oxygen. After I had the baby, I needed this tank for a few days. I forgot to get a refill after I last used it. Do you remember how to use this, Seoyeong? Remember the auntie and uncle who were sick and had to use this? I used this, too, remember? Do you remember how I used it? Right, that’s how I used it. Seoyeong, you don’t need that. You were born here. Oxygen is a necessity in this high altitude. The tank has been checked. Next, it’s time for her to do the laundry. Since she has three kids, there’s always work to be done. And Eunmi’s the kind of person who likes to stay busy even if there is no work. I dry my own persimmons here in Cusco. I’ve been drying these for a month. I’ve done this before, and this is my second time. I love dried persimmons. I craved these. Then, I found persimmons in Cusco. I thought I could dry them in the sun here, and it worked. I think these may be too dry. Mister Gil, will you try this dried persimon? What about the dust? The ones sold in Korea are covered in dust, too. The ones in Korea are grown in the green belt. We’re living in a clean environment, too! Are you sure I can trust you on this? Of course. I dried them myself. It tastes like a real dried persimmon. That’s because it is real! It is a real dried persimmon. – It’s good. / – It’s good. Yeah. I dry my own persimmons. You ever see anyone in Cusco do this? Let me show you something interesting. I made soybean malt. I think I might have to throw these out though… My mom sent several soybean malt last time, and I made soy sauce with those. I also made some soybean paste. I don’t know if I can use these, though. Maybe I can wash these. – If there’s mold, that means it’s good. / – Yeah? Yeah. Aren’t these good then? I see stuff crawling around though. They’re supposed to crawl, not walk. Eunmi isn’t sure about her soybean malt. She also experimented with something else. Open it. It’s homemade chili paste. It looks like soybean paste. I don’t think I used enough water for the rice. It wasn’t fermented well enough. Seoyeong, want to try some, too? You think it’s the best? Yes! Her daughter is her biggest fan. The color may not be the right shade, but it is alright as long as it tastes good. Here? I think we made it this time. When I first came to Cusco, I couldn’t drive down this road because it was so narrow. There were so many people walking around. They put that there to keep the tree from falling, right? Yeah. I didn’t know. Are you hungry, Doyeong? Didn’t you have lunch? They came as fast as they could. They have an important event to attend today. It’s their friend’s daughter’s baptism. Is it over already? But something seems to be wrong. We’re sorry we’re late. She doesn’t want to come to me. She’s not in a good mood right now. How have you been? They’re candy and chocolates. If you catch one, they’re supposed to bring good luck. It’s to share good fortune with their guests. While people were catching candies for luck… Where’s Doyeong? Seoyeong, let’s pick a present. Eunmi discreetly slips away. She was in such a rush that she forgot the gift. This is 180 sol. (Around $55) – What size is this one? / – For age 2. She quickly picks out a gift, with experienced hands. – See you again. / – Come again. Let’s go, Seoyeong. I got the gift. Thank goodness. Now, she has to go to the birthday dinner… Seoyeong, he’s not picking up the phone. But he’s not picking up. Oh, no. (Next Episode) Why are they being so friendly? I thought you didn’t like me. That 17-year-old girl has to take care of a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old… I don’t think that’s right. Eat this! Give it some more. Kiss, kiss! You look so pretty! That looks good on you.