COEX Scenes § Shopping & Commerce § Buildings § Food § Temples § Misc § Cultural History § Korean Games § Yahoo! People § Karioke § on the Lighter Side § Mary Anne's Adventures §
COEX Scenes
I went to Korea for FIFA Worldcup to assist in developing Yahoo!'s website. COEX was a large city block that had three large hotels,
a convention center with FIFA Mascots (Spheriks) out front, (web site) Also were a Hyundai department store where women in dresses and hats (or soccer uniforms some days) would gracefully hand out parking tickets for the parking lot, an office tower, and an incredible underground mall. We could either walk outside or go below. A balloon poodle for Ava (the Oakwood, where we stayed, in background).

Security was tight. Getting into the FIFA area required screening and searching, much like in an airport. The guards were nice, but insisted on making sure a camera was a camera.

How's this for sweeping the floor?

Shopping & Commerce
There are several areas of Seoul that are city block(s) taken up by open air markets plus department stores (which are, themselves, lots of booths). DOOTA is one such store. In it, this booth sold only
hats.   Korea Team members on a banner in Namdaemun.   Namdaemun (before the crowds). "As seen on tv", watch how this stuff magically shines the pots! (Dongdaemun) Garbage truck.   Produce coming thru!. When the streets and subways get full, booths spill into the pedestrian bridges (at the edge of Dongdaemun). Why bother with hi-tech baby carriers when a blanket will do? Recycle that cardboard! Can't escape familiar places: Outback.   Seamstress making traditional Korean wedding dresses in her shop. auto shops.   Burger King doubled as Yahoo! zone.
The tax building with a hole? Another angle.

Window washing (The shot I wanted was outside our hotel, where a lone guy with a single rope was working his way down 26 floors.)

Where do you house 10 million people? In blocks of apartments, apartments, apartments.

Olympic Bridge crossing Han River, etc. (closup)   Freeways were mostly crowded; the subway was usually as fast as a cab. (Both were very cheap--700 Won = $0.50 for subway; 1600 Won and up for cab.)

Seoul Tower [photo by Ava H.] was built in 1975 on a hill that used to have signal fires to warn the rulers of coming danger. Now it is surrounded by the city.

Some palace pics... Ceiling.   Floor--a typical style of planking in yesteryear. Palace Gate.   Walkway between palace buildings. "Central heating" used to be accomplished by having a raised floor with stone air paths. You built fires under the building (lower right) and they vented out the chimney (left). For shade design a building with hinged screens on the west.

And of course, everybody's national bird, the crane.   more cranes.

The colorful spot is the Olympic Stadium from 1988.

Girl Scouts.

Any meal in Korea comes with two small side dishes--Kimchi and Radishes. Kimchi often has a reddish-brown sauce that is often more fiery than any Hunan or Szechuan food I have ever had. People eat it. And you can ask for more. There is even a
Kimchi Museum (in COEX). Kimchi gets some of its potency by sitting in pots [photo by Ava H.] for a few months

Napkins exist but they are smaller than coctail napkins. Water is often served.

Lunch on the. hoof? (A tank in front of a restaurant) There was lots of squid and octopus to be had. Plus some things that I could not even identify (sort of like kelp pods).

Coffee maker? (Probably not really used.) "Coffee" ment a few ounces of something. Starbucks was there and had reasonably portions, but it cost as much as in the States. My lunch was often a large Frappaccino.

In restaurants, a soft drink costs almost as much as a cheap meal, and it is small. (Nothing exciting, Coke and Pepsi control the market.) Alcohol is only slightly more expensive than a soft drink. There is variety in stores and in drink machines (in the Yahoo! Korea office) -- The selections include such enticing things as Crushed Pear (with lumps), aloe (my favorite, also with lumps), a sparkling apple (good). A common drink [not shown] was [I'm not making this up] Pocari Sweat (yuckie).

Kyle took us to a street restaurant ordered for us. He said (after a few slugs of Soju) that one of the dishes was intestine. And the skewers of darkish meat were dog. Sure!

Dog is a speciality, not casually served by street vendors. I met an Argentine reporter who had taken on the task of finding out the real story of Koreans and dog. He would ask people about dog. In one breath they would say that it tastes good. In another they would say they have never had any. Eventually someone let slip the name of a village. The village inhabitants were also cautious. But eventually he found a dog farm where the yellow dogs were raised. They are about average sized as dogs go. 18 months is the normal age; 1 year yields tender meat (for a price); 2 years is getting too old. (Sorry, no pics.)

The strangest food on the streets looks like maggots, but is really silkworms. They are boiled in pots and stink!. People eat them sort of like popcorn. (Not me!)

In Daegeon we happened on the farmer's market; the produce building had lots of watermelons (striped, with pigtails). Two of the seven buildings were devoted to [guess what!] kimchi and radishes.

Mary Anne and I went down a side street and picked this restaurant at random. Unlike most places, no English was spoken or written. It was a self-ordering place where you were supposed to fill out a form. We got gutsy and asked for whatever the next table was having. It required self-service cooking, but the server was nice enough to help. The water dispenser (center) is a common fixture. Of course there were side dishes of kimchi and radishes.

Buddhist Temples are pleasant sites to visit. Often people are inside, listening to a cantor chanting away in a soothing tone. The place is covered with
lanterns, sometimes even soccerball-shaped lanterns in honor of the games. The tassles hanging name the person being prayed for (for a donation). The Temple near COEX built a large Buddha statue. It was guarded by a lion.   Door at entrance of one temple. Lanterns.   Water spider in a pond outside a temple.
Going to Korea was not bad in
business class--I could not even touch the seat in front of me. We flew over the Aleutians.

My grandson. was born the day I left for Korea, so I did not see him for 6 weeks.

Cultural History
One of the palaces had a
ceremony depicting the changing of the guard. Field trip!   (more kids)   Kids with assignments. [photo by Ava H.] Intricate gold buckle! See the details in the enlargement above it. (same, bigger). Necklace. Guess I did not get any pics of "chestlaces". Masks.   (same, bigger).   Quilting.   Gnarly old tree (700+ years old) at one of the palaces. Secondary entrance to palace [photo by Ava H.] Reception area. [photo by Ava H.] Seoul used to be bounded by 4 gates; this is the South Gate [photo by Ava H.]
Korean Games
The Seoul stadium was built on the "world's largest landfill". It uses the methane for power. Can you imagine a soccer-only stadium in the US? Much less one that can hold 65,000! Out front is the "World's(?) highest fountain".

Korea last beat Italy in 1966.   Cheering was coordinated, continuous and in tune. Huge flag unfurled. And at the Kor-Ger game.   Sea of Red   Sea of Red watching outdoor TV (the pyramid is over the Lake Food Court) Sea of Red peeking in store with TV. Sea of Red in Olympic Stadium. The country was glued on any Korea game! Over 65,000 attended the Korea-Germany game. Fireworks and more fireworks celebrated the end of the game. In the convention center, there was a giant screen for viewing the games. Sometimes they even handed out 3D glasses. During the Korea games, LOTS of people watched, all in red

Security was omnipresent. The cops were not always sitting down on the job. Usually they were walking in pairs. (This was in the airport.)

Proper attire at the game is encouraged. Hat?.   Flags, Red Devel horns.

Snacks while you watch? Cuttlefish and Coke. (The former tasted good, but had the consistency of shoe leather.)

After the games were over (and Korea took 4th place), there was much jubilation. They had a huge parade, featuring the team members and their coach. This shot attempts to show the presentation. of the team to the crowd. After that there was a parade and the awarding of an honary citizenship [first ever] to the coach [who speaks several languages, but not Korean].

Yahoo! People
Tonya, David, Rick, Jonathan   more   David, Jonathan.   Friend and Tonya intently watching TV.   David got lots of good shots of KOR-ITA   Larissa's birthday (Chris and David).   Ava.   Larissa, Chris, Guotao, Jonathan.   At Heesun's suggestion, several of us went to a drum performance at the National Theatre.   (Drums like these.). Susan and Ava at a Japanese meal. It seemed rather authentic (plus Kimchi). (That many dishes for four of us?)
After the tournament was over, FIFA and Yahoo got together for a final party--Karioke.
Estaban from Chile. Ava from Bulgaria. mostly Yahoos (Qian, Kyle, Larissa, Christophe(?), David, and some FIFA folks. (Yes, there was plenty of booze.) (again).   David (and Charles's cigar). Lively.   Tonya, Charles. Even Mary Anne and Rick managed to find an oldie. (again).
Seoul police is trying to appeal to youngsters?

Would you get your hairdo here? (I mean at the store, not Mary Anne.)

"Today's assignment is to interview someone on the street and ask them some simple English questions." Mary Anne made a good interviewee.

Da dum, da dum (in COEX Aquarium). Pirhana, but don't know who's rib cage. Hi there!. Jellyfish.   Colorful reef denizens.   Seahorse.

Art Shots
Tax building..

Hands in front of the "Lake Food Court" roof. Mary Anne gives some perspective to the hands.

Gazebo.   Lion?.   Rock Garden.

Stone statues.

The Daegeon stadium is ringed with school kids' tiles.

Balls in front of Convention Center. (New buildings are reuired to spend money on art.)

In front of Theatre

So, they got me to try DDR (DanceDanceRevolution?). Once I figured out where to look, I didn't do too bad. Cross a bungie and a trampoline.

Mary Anne's Adventures
After the Korea-Germany game, Mary Anne and I wandered through a side street with lots of restaurants. We got to the end and debated which one to pick. Then a couple of ladies (Bonnie & Sue) came up and offered assistence. They took us to an unknown restaurant with about four tables. We had
Bibimbap and were entertained by some strangers at the next table.

The women belonged to GACP, The Global Association of Culture and Peace. Mary Anne went with them to an international performance and to a rock garden. She got to try this instrument.   The troupe.   Garden.  

-- rjasdf @
Thanks to Phil James for hosting services.
Thanks to Ava Hristova for some of the pictures.