Monday, November 3

burnt bun boy and the intangible stuff

During the summer of 2001 while in South Korea, Burnt Bun Boy became a part of my life. Burnt Bun Boy's path crossed mine many times in the days leading up to our actual meeting.

I'd catch glimpses of him while strolling through the open markets on the side streets in Busan. Children would whip by sporting backpacks with his moon face staring forlornly into nothing.  He wasn't the usual kind of anime character that attracted kids.  He was plain, bland, and sad. And obviously burnt.

The pack of wild ankle-biters that made up my friend's class at the local English school tackled me each day after class and many of them carried notebooks, pencil cases, and other assorted stationary covered in this strange looking brown character.

Each day the students would first rush then pile on me, screaming at my face in English, throwing around random words like hippopotamus or automobile and other funny words their six year old minds could retain.  And while I tossed and shooed them away like the rabid butterflies they were, that little brown guy would call out to me.  He appeared to be the Pokeman of the moment.  He was everywhere I went.

That summer was hot and we were soon leaving for Bangkok, so I knew a good old-fashion hand-powered fan was in order.  I had purchased a Mary is my Homegirl fan before leaving Toronto, but had forgotten to pack it.  What that says about me trying to being blasphemous, I don't know.  Regardless, a new fan was on the top of my shopping list and finding one with this mysterious Kogepan on it would be perfection.

That was Burnt Bun Boy's real name: Kogepan.  It took for-EV-er to get his name straight - you can only imagine me in a local teenage internet cafe trying to decipher what the teenagers were trying to tell me, all while hopped up on fruit flavoured caffeine drinks.  Meaning we all were hopped up except the kids had the added jitter layer of playing Quake for 20 hours straight on top of the fruit-flavoured speed.

Finally I got his name and set out in the underground malls to find a fan.  It took me all of twelve seconds to find store dedicated to his ilk and he was mine.  I guess I didn't really need to interrupt those strobing kids back at the internet lair.  Anyhow, when I got home I found out more about Kogepan/Burnt Bun Boy and it's totally trippy man.

Short of long: Kogepan is an overcooked redbean bun who was rejected by his creators and peers, only to turn to smoking and drinking milk as beer to blot out the pain. The depth of his character and history made my childhood comic books seem very sterile and homogenous.  Perhaps because they were.

My Burnt Bun Boy hand-powered fan recently broke.  The pink handle split in two, and it was reduced to a thin Frisbee of plastic which looks pretty pathetic.  I know it's not like an heirloom or something of monetary value, but I wish I had taken better care of that fan, maybe storing it away from curious hands.  That particular trip is full of memories that extend far beyond any of the photos that turned out.  Burnt Bun Boy was part of that, and I can't see his sad little face without remembering so much freakin' stuff.

2 comments:

Mamalooper said...

I lived in South Africa for two years and also had similar "country specific" cultural references. Coming home, no one else got them but they meant/mean the world to me.

Love Burnt Bun Boy! May his fan-remnants live on forever...

nonlineargirl said...

Wow, thanks for a peek into a totally new thing for me.