– Strong military presence, though not particularly oppressive – most often soldiers are seen in the midst of daily activities (ie carrying a fashionable shopping bag).
– Was first taken aback by the grid identical high-rises lined up on our way from the airport into Seoul.
– As also noted by other foreigners we spoke to, at a cultural / ethnic level, Korea somewhat feels like the ‘Middle’ country which it is geographically, halfway between China and Japan (disagree?)
– Much of the politeness encountered in Japan has evaporated into the thin blue air.
– “When we see a nuclear missile test, we feel scared but we try to play it cool,” says our guide at the DMZ.
– The new president elect will take office next week. Rising tensions with North Korea. (which have since escalated further)
– Didn’t make it to the famed Panmunjeom unfortunately, a “very famous place for foreigners, very sad place for Koreans,” as over 10 million people were separated, families torn, with a single ceasefire – will still be sharing short video of the DMZ and border (also inspired a short story which won’t yet be posted here but will later be featured in the ooasia collection of short stories).
– Hiked the treacherous, beautiful and snowy mountains of Bukhansan.
– Banged and cut my head open (twice in the course of ten minutes) onto the low metallic threshold of our host’s gate.
– All in all, was our shortest stay in any given country (six days, mostly spent in Seoul, and I started coming down with a fever). I’m only too aware this is too short a period to get any significant insight into the culture and people, so look forward to return. And will do my best to get a better grasp of the next places to be visited!
Next up: Video of the DMZ, and then an update on the “Tell me a story” approach of ooAsia, along with one of the early interviews – then we’ll be off to China, starting with Beijing!