Thursday, April 19, 2012

Adding Visit to South Korea

I am so excited to report that my initial four hour layover in Seoul on the way back from Changsha has been changed to four full days.  I have always wanted to see Seoul because I have close friends who are either Korean (Jeounghoon "Johnny" Oh and Jee-Young Chung) or Americans working in Seoul (Jezreel Kang-Graham).  I collaborated with Johnny on a research project a few years ago about the newspaper coverage of the Korean presidential election and am thrilled to have the opportunity to see the culture first hand.

Apparently Jezreel, Johnny, and Jee-Young will all be in South Korea during my visit, so we should have a good time together.  I will be staying at Jezreel and his wife's apartment in Seoul and they plan to take me to whatever sites they think I should see.  I'm really hoping it involves more than Karaoke bars because I don't drink and there are few things in this world I do worse than singing.  I guess that's the whole point of Karoake, though.

Jee-Young asked me what I wanted to see while I was in South Korea and I told her I mostly want to see the DMZ (The Demilitarized Zone).  She gave me a puzzled look, but I love history and would love to simply "feel" what that place is like.  I also indicated I wanted to see the Blue House (which is where the president resides).  I find it amusing that we have a White House and the South Koreans have a Blue House.

I hear Seoul is a vibrant city and very modernized.  I'm looking forward to being there, but I would also like to get out of the city and see the countryside.  One of my biggest regrets about my visits to London and Amsterdam was that I never made it out of the city.  How shameful is it to go to the Netherlands and not see a single windmill?  Well, that's my story!  This time, I WILL venture outside of Seoul and see some of the more traditional-looking parts of the country (whatever that means).

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the 38th parallel serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea

The Blue House in Seoul

Aerial shot of Seoul, Korea

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