A short time ago, in a city not that far away…

I made yet another visit to Seoul on Thursday and Friday. It was a snap decision, literally. Somewhere around 3 am, somewhat drunk, I decided to join my friends for a journey that was to leave in about 5 hours.

It was fun. We ate mackerel soup, we ate pork soup, we ate pajon. We drank soju, we drank maekju. We talked and laughed. We were hoping to go to an art gallery in Isadong, but it was closed. So we wandered into the “toy museum.” (I don’t know what it’s actually called, you just look for the picture of Wonder Woman and you’re there.) You pay a thousand won and get to experience childhood flashbacks every six inches or so. The place is packed with old toys. The biggest head-spinner for me was finding an old cardboard-backed Star Wars book I owned when I was a wee lad. The writing was all in Korean, but the pictures and layout was the same.

Speaking of Star Wars, here’s Return of the Jedi-era Luke Skywalker:

Here we have some seriously pissed off smurfs (I like how Mr. Potatohead is back there like… ‘hey, uh, seriously, I want no part of this.’):

And just to bring us up to the present, here’s current-era Spiderman:

The next day we went to the Apple Festival, where one poor soul got lost in an apple vortex:

A bit later, we did some shopping and bought shoes:

Next, we went to Namsangol, a traditional Korean village:

It’s not really a functioning village but is a replica of life way back when. It turned out to be more interesting than I expected. One thing that happens when traveling and being a tourist is that you look at something old and you’re disconnected from it. It’s like, hmm, yes, interesting, they lived in such and such houses. But I looked at these buildings and I could make a connection to what I see in my apartment today.

For example, Korean apartments have wide, sliding doors on each side. This lets you get a cross-breeze flowing through that quickly airs out an apartment. This isn’t the greatest photo in the world, but it shows that the concept has been around for a long time (note that they aren’t sliding doors, but are hanging up above, at the top left):

Also, you can see early uses of Korean “ondol” heating. Koreans heat their floors rather than the air in the room. Now it’s done by electricity, but back then it looks as though it was done through fire pits in the walls. I didn’t get a photo of that, but here’s a kitchen, which is essentially the same idea:

So there you have it, highlights of my fourth visit to Seoul. Let’s see, what shall I leave you with? How about revisiting the Star Wars theme. Here we have happy children, encased in carbonite for delivery to Jabba the Hut:

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2 Responses to “A short time ago, in a city not that far away…”

  1. thanks for your experience.

  2. I think Papa Smurf is angry because he’s wearing a diaper.

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