Life in the ROK

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

Monday, November 20, 2006

Teacher’s Pet? Yep that’s me in the front row with my teacher’s hands on my shoulders. I was told by my Japanese friend, also in the front row, that Koreans are very fond of this pose with their hands on someone else's shoulders. This was the first time I have experienced it so personally.

This is my Korean class at Ewha University. My closest friends in class are the three women on the right, one is from Columbia and the other two are from Japan. We also have 3 students besides me from the US and a group of men working for the military in their respective countries of Malaysia, India, Vietnam, and Cambodia who have been sent here to learn Korean. When our class first started the military guys always repeated the teacher in such loud voices I could not even hear my Japanese friend Ritsuko who sits right next to me. They have gotten a little quiter now, but they are still always louder than everyone else.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another photo from our visit to the Joint Security Area. These are South Korean soldiers in a modified Taekwondo ready position to protect us from being kidnapped by the North Korean guard you can see standing in front of the building on the opposite side. The blue wooden buildings are where most high level talks take place between the North and South and their respective allies. These buildings straddle the Military Demarcation Line and are half in South and half in North Korea. Inside, we stood on North Korean soil.

Colleen and I went up to North Korea this weekend to see how it is. We were invited by a Swiss Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Marc-Andre Ryter to visit the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commision compound and enjoyed a beautiful, crisp fall weekend overlooking one of the few remaining communist countries in the world.

Here we are in the NNSC compound about eight feet from the North Korean border. The sign is an original circa-1953 indicating the Military Demarcation Line that was legally declared in the Armistice Agreement.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

This is a live fish market we found in Seoul practically just across the river from our apartment. There are hundreds if not a thousand fishmongers hawking their wares under one roof. We found a restaurant in the market that would slice up the fish of your choice and serve it as fresh sashimi with a second course of fish head soup. Pretty tasty! We saw a bunch of different fish and shellfish all the Koreans were eating and vowed to be less timid on our next visit.

Well, these didn't exactly show up in the order I wanted them to but no worries. They are more photos from hiking at Soraksan National Park on the east coast of Korea, maybe 20 miles below the DMZ. Pretty nice view when you come out of the woods and see these.

The next photo is Colleen in front of a crowd of Koreans climbing to the top of another rock, which is easily visited via a cable car. The final scramble up to the top is pretty steep and toddlers as well as septuagenarians crab-walk up and down it. The approach would never fly in the US due to litigation risks.

The third photo is the view out of our lodge room in the AM. We arrived in the dark of night so hadn't seen the valley until we woke up and looked out the window. I got really excited right then, just ask Colleen.

The last photo is a detail of the first: it is the furthest column on the right. If you look closely, you will see two climbers mid spire.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Last weekend Jay and I went to Seoraksan to see the fall colors. This picture was taken on our hike in the Valley of 1000 Buddha’s. The park is really beautiful, and apparently we are not the only ones who think so as there were thousands of Korean and other tourists there over the weekend. Koreans love to hike!!!