Korea is not quite what I expected, it’s certainly different from the last time I was in Korea in 2007.
There is not the culture shock that I was anticipating. I feel much more comfortable in Korea, which is partially because of the Westernization of Korea (there are more Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts here than I see in America), and partially because I have been here before. It’s comforting to be surrounded by people who look like me, though it is not the Korea we see in America. Everyone is not model gorgeous, and there are a lot of Western clothes. Although, I have been in Seoul and mainly foreigner-friendly/tourist-y locales.
The first day we went shopping in Myeongdong and Insadong Districts. We also went out for a chicken dish lunch with rice noodles and a sort of soy-garlic sauce and a dinner of beef on a cast-iron skillet that used to be a celebratory dish since it was extremely expensive in the past. As most of you know, I detest Korean food and have a hard time eating it, though I’ve really enjoyed the food so far this trip.
I was able to get a traditional name stamp with my Korean name on it. The stamp is the tan stone with the pink lotus carved on it, and you can see the imprint on the bookmarks. It means a lot to me to have this stamp, as it has my Korean name Nan Shil on it, and they were traditionally used to sign legal documents. I write many letters, so this is a special addition to my correspondence.
We started the day with a trip to Seoul Tower to see the city from the tall observatory tower sort of like the Space Needle. It is a tourist destination and has a tradition of locking locks onto the bridge to symbolize everlasting love. I placed one for my family, Korean and America, including those people I consider to be family. It was a beautiful view of Seoul, but it was so foggy it was difficult to get good pictures.
We also visited the Comfort Woman statue in front of the Japanese Embassy that represents the girls and women forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII. It is a contentious issue between Korea and Japan, though relations are already soured by the rather drastic colonization of the Korean peninsula by Japan between 1910 and the end of WWII. The statue was dressed for winter to keep her warm.
Wifi is unreliable here, so posts will be sporadic and may or may not include pictures. Thank you for reading.