Tag Archives: gyeongbukgung

Seoul vs Busan

10 Jun

Wow, it’s been far too long since I last posted here. What have I been up to?

I went to Seoul for Buddha’s birthday (which is a long weekend here in Korea). It was my first time in the capital and I was struck by how big and sprawling it is. 10 million people live in Seoul and it feels like it! Whilst I was there I visited Gyeongbuk Palace and was given a tour by a cute first grade middle school girl who was part of a student volunteer programme. It was nice to get some information from a student who had been studying the palace and its history, and I think she was lucky to get a group of super encouraging English teachers prompting her to practise her English!

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Our student guide suggested the Namsan tower as a good place to visit, so we wandered around Insadong in the afternoon and then trotted over to the tower to watch the sunset. Sadly it was a hazy day and view wasn’t wonderful. I did love seeing all the padlocks attached to the railings.Image

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Korean couples come to the tower and lock a padlock to the railings and then throw away the key, symbolising their endless love or something. It’s another adorable example of Korean couple culture! My guide told me she put a padlock up here with her best friend, so when someone suitable comes to visit I’ll be making them do this with me so I can join in on the fun. Image

My overall impression of Seoul is that it is a very cool, very trendy city, especially close to the art university where we were staying – young people here are embracing individualism in fashion and western culture in a way that I haven’t seen as much in Busan. There are so many westerners in Seoul that it feels more international and accepting – I felt like anything went in terms of how I dressed, as opposed to the effort I make in Busan to limit how much chest I show and when I show my tattoos. That said, people in Seoul are used to foreigners being obnoxious and misbehaving in public and so we encountered a few rude or reluctant Korean taxi drivers, and I don’t think I spoke to many Koreans out and about either. Image

In Busan westerners are still enough of a novelty that people are curious about you and want to strike up conversation. I felt Koreans in Busan are friendlier and less judgemental, despite being more conservative. As soon as I arrived back in Busan an elderly woman tried to feed me rice cakes on the bus, and that’s pretty representative of my interactions here. Plus with the beaches and the sea breeze here, we lack the stifling heat and humidity of Seoul. Basically my time in Seoul made me so glad I live here in Busan, and I couldn’t wait to get home!

Since then I’ve had a lot of time off work as my students were on a school trip. The weather has been lovely of late, so I’ve been spending most of my time on the beach! This is really and truly why I haven’t been updating my blog – I’ve been busy out and about having fun and making the most of the sunshine before it gets too hot, in every free minute I have. I’m exhausted now though, and quite thankful that next week is back to my normal schedule!

Other things I’ve been doing that I forgot to mention:

– the Buddha’s birthday parade and lantern festival

– the Sand Sculpture festival in Haeundae

– crab hunting on Dadaepo beach

– conducting and grading speaking tests for my students

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