Korea 2: Hallyu Wave and other adventures

There is an ad they show on the subways in Korea.  A girl has a big lump o' fat baby clinging to her.  It attaches itself to her stomach and her thighs and even when she runs on the treadmill, she can't rid of it.  Then she goes to the hospital and walks out all fat baby free while the doctor squeezes the hand of the sad and lonely fat baby and drags him away (to where?  The gas chamber?  The incinerator?)

I felt really sad for that fat baby.  And very tempted to make an appointment at that hospital.  I think I have fat baby sextuplets.

I started my second day in Korea by sneaking out of my backpacker room so as not to disturb the guys in the dorm.  Yeah my room for the first night was attached to the guy's dorm.  A bit awkward and also not so nice smelling considering all shoes were taken off at the door. 

Of course, I headed straight for coffee.

Then Lotte World.  I think the Lotte corporation actually owns South Korea cos they seemed to have their name plastered on everything.  

At Lotte World, they have an amusement park but that wasn't what interested me.  I was headed to Star Avenue where you do exciting stuff like have your photo taken with cutouts of hallyu wave stars (Korean idols)!

Before you entered, you had to tell them "who you loved".  I was really embarrassed by that and didn't want to say Jang Kuen Suk in case I said it wrong.  So I pointed at his picture.  But seriously, they wouldn't let me in unless I said. it. 

Don't leave me comments saying he looks like a girl, cos I don't care.  If he does, it's like a really hot girl and I"m okay with that.

I think I've also been a bit traumatised because in Japan when I tell people I like Arashi they laugh hysterically for some reason and I get all paranoid.  Sometimes they say stuff like "too young".  WTF... most of them are around 30 now.  And it's not like every pervy old salaryman isn't ogling pictures of 14 year old girls in skimpy bikinis on the train.  Double standard, don't you think!

Anyway in Korea no one laughs if you say you like their idols.  They take it as a given.  Because everyone knows that the hallyu wave is sweeping the world.  They actually have info on their tourist site on how to get to drama locations and go to cafes owned by stars and all that kind of thing that fan girls love. 

They actually make all this accessible and other shit like making it possible for foreigners to buy tickets to concerts or even, omg, touring even to places like Australia.

And this is why the K-pop industry is making millions of dollars overseas and the J-pop industry isn't.  And never will until Japan gets it's head out of it's arse.

End of rant.

I was trying to do a cheeky, bum pinching pose but it didn't really work out.  Also he has a weird thumb!

I look like shitbut I guess anyone would look like shit beside him cos he's so damn pretty. 

Star Avenue was heaps of fun but the staff were constantly at my elbow explaining things to me.  Even though all the signs were in English.  

I was forced to do a quiz to test my JKS knowledge.  When I say forced, I mean literally.  And I wasn't allowed to leave that damn quiz until I passed.  I can understand what they say about Korean mothers now because if I was treated like that during my school years, I'd have got top marks in everything!  Although I would have passed it sooner if the English translation wasn't so dodgy.

After K-pop land, I wanted to go to the shooting range at Lotte World.  I've not shot a gun and I'd like to so I set off to find it with my instructions printed off the internet.

I'm not sure if my instructions were wrong or if they've closed the place down or what but buggered if I could find it.  I have a very low tolerance for shopping centres (malls) and places like that so after about an hour of looking, I realised that even if I found it, it'd be very dangerous for me to be holding a gun.

I wasn't sure how to spend the afternoon but it was insanely humid and I felt like one of those fat babies clinging to me was starting to melt!  So I figured the nice air-condtioned tourist bus was the way to go.

Around the tourist bus area, they'd set up displays commenerating the Korean War.  I think it was around Memorial Day in Korea.  To be honest, all I know about the Korean War is what I learnt from watching MASH.

One display said that South Korea had received help from more other countries than any other country at war in history.  They had the flags of each country on display.

That made me think that those old ladies giving me the sour old lady face around town could have been a bit nicer.  I mean, you can understand that kind of attitude toward foreigners in Japan from old people in a way but Korean oldies, we helped you!

The area around the tourist bus stop had a lot of interesting sculptures and gardens.  I could actually look up the name of this area but I'm lazy.

I didn't take many photos from the tourist bus because I figured they'd look shit anyway.  I did listen to the commentary in English until it stuffed up and learnt shit about Seoul but didn't get off at many places cos the bus only did the circuit every half hour.

Once I sat down on the bus in the air conditioning, I realised I'd not eaten all day and was starving so I was kinda distracted but stayed on the bus until we got near my backpackers so I could change out of my sweaty clothes.

I called in at a little cafe and got a roast pork and kimchi rice ball for lunch.  It was super delicious.  Unlike Japanese rice balls that are wrapped in a single sheet of nori, the Korean ones are dunked in a bowl of shredded nori that sticks to the rice.  They are much bigger too.  I'm going to try to make them at home cos I can never get the nori to stick when I make Japanese style ones.

The poor woman running this shop was sound asleep when I went in and I felt guilty about waking her (I hate being woken up myself) but it was worth it for the deliciousness of my lunch.

After having a shower at the backpackers and changing rooms to the one I was supposed to have in the first place, I had a little nap myself.

Then I headed for one of the markets.  On the tourist bus commentary, they said it was open 24 hours but it seems like everything was being packed up when I went so I'm not sure if they lied or I went to the wrong market!

After the nap, a bulgogi taiyaki.  Super awesome.  Then I wandered around the area near my backpackers.  There was meant to be a park that is famous for buskers but it seemed to be fenced up for redevelopment.

Sorry woman in the background, I didn't meant to get a pic of your bum.  Also you can't see it but there is a super delicious kimchi pancake there too.

As I left the subway station, I got accosted by a dude at a food stall.  I figured it was easier to give into his hard sell than think for myself.

Then he started doing that shit that I'm sure old guys do to every woman who's ever travelled alone (even if it's just to the corner shop!).

"Are you on your own?  ... You are beautiful, I want to marry you?  blah blah blah".  Ending with him wanting to go to my hotel with me.

If it was a young guy doing this, I'd probably rip him to shreds but when it's an old guy it's hard to know if they are joking or not.  Do they think it's charming?

I'm pretty sure if you said anything they'd fall back on the joking line but if you were up for it, who knows... has anyone ever been up for it?

When I walked back to the subway, he'd gone from the stall and the woman doing the actual work gave me a look as if to say"he's a douche" and I gave her the same back.  

One thing he did say that worried me a bit, he said "you have one son, how old is he?"  How did I know I had one son?  Spooky.

Korea makes you wish you had more stomachs

After that, I went to the all night clothes market.  Which, to be honest, was pretty shit.  Maybe if you are into fashion and hit the shops inside the shopping centres, it'd be great but all the stuff outside looked like cheap tat.

I was about to head home when I got to this area with the stream.  The stream is very known in Seoul I think.  I read in the tourist map that it'd been filled in and there'd been a highway there for years then a while back the leader at the time decided they should rip the highway out and put the stream back in.  He got into heaps of shit cos it cost a fortune but I'm awfully glad he did it because it was a really peaceful and pretty area to sit and have a beer.

Funnily enough, while Seoul Tower had been full of love love couples, along here not so much.  There were some but also friends hanging out and joggers and people walking home from work.  I think if I lived in Seoul, I'd hang out here a lot.  But I'd wear mosquito repellant next time.

After that, I decided to get a cab back to my hostel.  It was only a few subway stops and it cost me $3.00!!!!  You can't even sit in a stationary cab in Australia for that much.  Korean cabs are awesome.

For more pictures of my second day in Seoul - go here


For more Jang Keun Suk and general fan girling - go here