December 11, 2010

Seoul


Last weekend I went to Seoul with Corinne and Shelley. We saw the War Museum, Insadong Market (which sells traditional Korean goods), and North Seoul Tower. It was nice to get out of Daegu and do something different for a few days.


There is a lot of these cute plush animals around Korea for different events or store openings. They are pretty adorable.


At the base of the tower, there is a lookout where couples hook locks to the fencing. Its been a tradition for about thirty years, and we even saw a cute couple writing messages and hooking their lock on the fencing.


I think they are beautiful, and wish I could read all of the Korean writing on them, because its probably very, very sweet.




This is the view from the top of the tower, it was pretty phenomenal. I am really enjoying living so close to one of the world's biggest cities, and a train system convenient enough to go as often as I would like.

December 7, 2010

Snake Mobiles


My homeroom class is pretty awesome. This is Kyoung Mo.


We have been studying snakes in science class. After the field trip last week we were allowed to do a project related to a class. So we made Coiled Snake Mobiles. This is Minseo's, its very feminine and cute.


Jun and Kyoung Mo. If you're wondering, yes all of the students are wearing slippers. We are not allowed to wear "outdoor" shoes inside the school, so we all change into slippers in the entrance way. I wasn't a big fan of this tradition at first, but it really is kind of great - not many jobs let you wear your slippers all day at work!


Olivia and Peter. I'm a big fan of Peter's Nike sweatshirt hah.


Kelly and Edwin. Edwin was the only student who remembered that "some snakes have marks to help them hide," so his snake is probably my favorite. Also, they are both wearing their proper uniforms. Its not exactly required, especially with the older kindergarteners, since they will be growing out of them and won't need them the following year. They are supposed to for field trip days and some days of the regular week. I mostly like them because they all look adorable.

November 29, 2010

Photo booths!


This weekend Laura and I had a new experience - the Korean photo booth.


The set up is a room full of photo booths with tons of girls and couples milling around. Laura and I weren't really sure what to expect, but basically you pay five dollars or so and pose for pictures with crazy backgrounds and decals.


You can add glitter, stickers, and text all over it.. even other people (like the blonde girl in the picture).


These are pretty blurry, because we didn't realize the different sizes we could pick and they ended up really small. Luckily, Laura's camera worked enough to get a general picture, because mine didn't zoom enough to work.


They print out as stickers, which we cut out and then I turned mine into magnets. We will for sure end up going back and printing bigger pictures, so look forward to seeing those sometime soon!

November 24, 2010

Gwangju



This past weekend Laura and I went to Gwangju. It is notable because it was the heart of the democracy movement in Korea. The first place we went was the May 18th Memorial Park - which was the setting for the 1980 student protest that ended in several civilians being killed. In my mind this is the closest Korea has to its own Tienanmen Square, so I had been wanting to see it. Gwangju is also notable for me because had I not signed my contract with St. Louis, I would have been living here instead.

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This is a huge monument, these children are young and unsupervised. It isn't really surprising, in Korea, but I thought it was notable because they were climbing so high and were adorable.


Under the giant triangle the kids are climbing on, there is a list of names, which I am not sure if these are people involved in the democracy movement, or if they were those killed during the protests.


This was a stone carved mural on one wall, and in the middle was a statue of a mother carrying her son, killed by the soldiers in the movement.


This is Laura. These giant metal poles are surrounding the giant triangle.


I am becoming a more and more capable tourist. Lonely Planet is extremely helpful in this endeavor.


Next we went to the Gwangju National Museum. It was a beautiful building.


The most interesting thing to me was the capsule style coffins. The captions were only in Korean, but from the photographs, like the one in the background, I think they tuck one jar's lip inside the other, to create a seal.


Gwangju is also famous for "Art Street." We went pretty late, so some stores were closed, but its all art galleries and stores, selling supplies, original art and pottery. Everything was beautiful and so well done. I was a little sad, because Daegu doesn't have much of an art scene, there isn't a museum or galleries really. This is one thing that has depressed me a bit, and Art Street was a wonderful treat for me.


We stayed in Gwangju, and the following day we went to Damyang.


First, we went to a bamboo forest. It was really beautiful, and it was great to see things so lush and green in fall, where most trees' leaves have already changed colors and fallen off.


When we finished exploring the forest, Laura and I tried to get a cab to a bamboo museum. We realized pretty quickly that Damyang is not Daegu - there were absolutely no cabs. Our only option was to call one, which was difficult given our limited knowledge of Korean. So we stood at the road and looked around contemplating our next move. Luckily, we were in Korea - within a few minutes, we were stopped by a random Korean man, who looked at our map and gathered where we were trying to go. Turns out, he was a tour guide leading a bus around Damyang full of older Korean couples from Seoul. He invited us to join them - for free- and took us on a pretty awesome tour of the city.


Metasequoia Avenue has been voted the most beautiful road in Korea. I can see why.



These little guys were all over Damyang's tourist locations, which I thought were the cutest things ever.

Soswaewon was made in 1520 and it was great to see the traditional architecture.


I'm excited for our tour. The guide communicated what he could in English, and one of the other tourists spoke a little English, and would translate a little more. We got the jist of most of it, and my guidebook helped, too.



In Korea, Autumn lasts months. Its wonderful, the leaves are still changing and colorful. I'm happy to have nice weather still. Of course Thanksgiving isn't exactly a holiday here, we still have to work.

As for the concern about the artillery fire earlier this week... I am not to worried, and don't think you should be either. Life is continuing on as normal here. I am registered with the US Embassy, and if there is an evacuation, I will be the first to know. Yes, it is the most serious threat since the Korean War, but I believe all parties involved will be rational and show restraint. My plan is to be in Korea until next August, and as of now, that is not changing. Obviously, if the situation becomes untenable, I will put my safety first. As of now, thats all I know. Keep Korea in your thoughts, watch the news, and eat some mashed potatoes for me on Thanksgiving!