I love obsessions, and Myong-Hee Bae is obsessed. She’s a freak for owls.
Her home is crammed full of 3,000 owl-y items. Clocks, quilts, paintings, stamps, cut-outs hanging from the ceiling, mugs filled with steaming hot tea, candles, toys, and rugs. It was weird. And absolutely wonderful.
“Her love of owl started when she was in 2nd grade,” a clumsy document she printed out, then handed to me, read. “She was very much attracted by the big eyes of the wooden own sculpture and became owl mania.”
She spoke no English besides “tea?”, and we spoke no Korean at all, so this document was all the info we had to go on. She wouldn’t let us take a photo of her.
But everywhere she went, she sought out owls. Everyone who visited her brought an owl. Before long, the bizarre collection included owls from across the globe.
She reminded me a little of Paul MacLeod. He was obsessed with Elvis. He shared this obsession with his son, Elvis Aaron Presley MacLeod. Paul told me, years ago, that his wife left him because he was too obsessed with the King. She set down the gauntlet, and said, “It’s him or me, Paul.” Paul made his choice, and she moved out.
Myong-Hee Bae’s husband didn’t fight it. He brought her even more. And when they married, this bird of prey collection was considered the family jewel. Now that’s romance.
But doesn’t it all kind of remind you of this?
The Owl Art and Craft Museum, 27-21 Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea