Life in the ROK

West goes East: The lives and adventures of a Californian couple living in Seoul

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Yesterday Jay and I rented bikes and rode on the path that runs along the Han river. The sunset was amazing and in the background on the right is the tallest building in Seoul, it is called Building 63.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Song Sang Nime Park is what we call my Korean teacher. Koreans don't use their first names much and often use titles instead of names. So when we call her Song Sang Nime we are actually just calling her teacher, Park is her last name. So far my Korean classes are going well, my teacher is nice and I have made some new friends. During my first class I talked with a Japanese woman who was sitting next to me, her English is very good and it turned out that she is my neighbor so now we take the subway together 3 days a week when we go to class. Right now we are still learning the alphabet, which has some very strange sounding letters that do not really translate into English. This makes it kind of entertaining when the class is all repeating them together. I am excited to be learning a new language and hopefully in a few months will be able to get around Seoul a little better and be able to read the menus in the Korean restaurants, it will be nice to be able to order dishes other than bimbimbap and bulgogi.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Here is Colleen's friend, Caitlin, taking a photo of some Korean high school kids in front of a pretty great statue at the pretty great Korean War Memorial. In the war, Seoul changed hands four times and was reduced to a pile of rubble and ash at the end. Now, thousands of new apartments like the cluster in the background populate this city of 12 million. Despite the recent nuclear test by the north, everybody here just goes on with their normal lives, hustling to work and back and debating in the newspapers what course the government should take to respond. South Korea is prosperous, democratic and free, which begs the question: What lessons can be learned from this modern success story?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Although a bit hard to find we all decided it was worth the trouble when we arrived at the W Seoul hotel and were soon seated in our individual pods in the lounge. The DJ booth was a black space ship that looked like it had just landed. With an excellent view of the Han river this sleek and modern hotel lives up to its name.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

This is the new Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen sculpture in the Chonggyechon district of Seoul. The sculpture is called "spring" and is meant to mark the beginning of a reemerging stream that runs through downtown Seoul. Roads covered the stream for years, but through a big city redevelopment project it has been brought back into the open. I read that the sculpture is supposed to look like a river snail....we were not very impressed by it.....frankly it's ugly. We are not the only ones that feel that way; I have read that most Seoulites do not like it either. The stream on the other hand is a great place to take a stroll and is much enjoyed by Koreans and tourists alike.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Red velvet piggy banks from the Believe it or Not art show.

Me at the Believe it or Not exhibition at the Ilmin Museum of Art. This is the best space we have found so far for contemporary art in Seoul. The exhibition was about collections and consumerism and combined some very interesting and odd things like red velvet piggy banks and Mexican chip baskets. There was also a short film that seemed to be coming from God's perspective and was giving advice on life.

An unexpected parade on base left Caitlin and I stranded after our yoga class. Apparently there was a family day and health fair going on that we did not know about.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

For the Chuseok holiday we visited the Changdeok-gung Palace. Apparently many Koreans also had the same idea as the place was packed. The palace was originally built in the 1400's but was burned down more than once and reconstructed. Changdeok-gung is where the last Korean King resided until his death in 1926, with no true heir to the thrown.

Hiking in Seoul? While exploring Bukansan Mountain we came across some weight lifting equipment, so Jay decided to impress me with his bench press. And yes I was impressed.

Yay Jay is back in Seoul!!!! This is a picture of us in front of Yongsan Station where the lights on the steps change from rainbows to flashing advertisements for the mall attached to the complex. Before taking this photo I took Jay to the E-mart market where you can taste all kinds of Korean foods and buy more types of kimchi than I could have ever imagined.

This small map is Bukansan National Park just outside of Seoul. Actually, part of it is in Seoul's city limits. There were a lot of Korean nature lovers out there hiking up and down the steep canyons but we still somehow managed to get good and lost for an hour or so as we simply followed the fall line down the forested slopes.

The strangest thing we encountered on our lucky perambulations was a middle-aged lady who performed nonstop hula hoop at the top of a steep little clearing. Below her was a burbling spring beside which sat an old lady and fifteen or so red or blue dippers for thirsty hikers. The old lady was counseling a youngish man who paid her rapt attention, perhaps on items of love and courtship, whilst the solitary hula hooper kept watch above.