I Got Seoul, but I’m Not a Seouldier.

24 Sep

Somehow another week has passed. Time has a way of feeling fast and slow, simultaneously. On the one hand I can’t believe I’ve been in Korea for a whole month and a week – on the other, I can’t believe that’s all it’s been! Does that make sense?

This past weekend was eventful. Our friends at the Frontiers were a part of a peace rally/concert in Seoul, so we decided to check it out on Saturday. Yes, folks, I may have been here for over a month, but this was my first time in Seoul! I was prepared for a big city and different atmosphere, but I found myself surprised nonetheless. When they say Seoul is a “big city”; a “metropolis”, rather, they are not joking. Is Vancouver a big city? -Yes. Compared to Seoul? -It’s the podunkiest little hick town yuh ever did see! Vancouver doesn’t even have a million people. Seoul has ten million and counting. So basically what I’m saying here is, even a city girl at heart felt a little overwhelmed there this past Saturday!

But I digress…I’ll get back on track by telling you that the whole long day trip started with a 2+ hours subway ride (with 4 transfers) into the belly of Korea. Sufficiently exhausted from doing nothing, we arrived in Myeongdong at lunchtime. (Myeongdong is the trendy shopping neighbourhood, matched in name to Chuncheon’s shopping centre.) By this time I was experiencing significant cognitive dissonance regarding where I was in the world. Foreigners, foreigners, everywhere! That felt more like home – no longer was I the lone mousy-brown head in a sea of black. I kept forgetting I wasn’t in Canada, and had to constantly remind myself to use my Korean words and manners. So confusing!

We quickly found a restaurant specializing in naengmyeon and bibimbap. Bibimbap is a delicious mix of rice, greens and vegetables – a pretty good “beginner’s Korean cuisine”, if you ask me (I, for the record, am far past beginner’s level, but certainly did enjoy this “tamer” new-to-me dish.) Naengmyeon is a noodle soup that has a hard-boiled egg and some vegetables arranged on top, and it is served alongside this delicious grilled beef that you mix in yourself. Oh yes – and the broth is cold, sour, and filled with chunks of ice. I can easily say I love Korean food, but I’m not won over in the soup department yet. (Even hot soups are not made with bouillon as we picky Canadians like, so they’re a little on the bland side.)

After lunch we walked around a bit and window shopped (My advice: don’t go to Seoul with only $7!). I enjoyed the hustle and bustle and different approach to getting customers in the stores (namely screaming at them through a microphone). After a while of this, “Deborah’s tired mode” hit, and I quickly made the transformation from excited tourist to almost-incohesive slow-poke. I soon found Coke and a bench and, after a while, perked up a bit. From there we went to Dunkin’ Donuts (very popular here) and met Jin Ju’s friend Hyunsil. She treated us to iced coffee (yay! more caffeine!) and donuts (I had a delicious mocha almond one, but there are more “Korean-style” types available). Hyunsil is also a former IVEPer who served at Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond, so we had a lot to talk about. I told her I live (lived?) five minutes from Metrotown and she actually understood what that meant. Awesome.

After a looong sit (which is what my feet needed at that point, already), we moseyed over to the peace rally/concert/shindig. I didn’t understand any of the signs or speeches, and only one of our Frontier friends was there, so we left pretty soon. Still, I’d never seen a tank made of balloons, so at least I got to cross that off my bucket list.

After the rally we travelled to the Hongik University neighbourhood which, in my limited world travels, reminded me the most of St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan (and if I have to compare it to something in Vancouver, then I guess it was most like Commercial Drive). It was pretty cool, with art installments everywhere, and people in better clothes than me, and lots of graffiti (the pointless kind, not the cool kind). To my chagrin, zombie walks happen all over the world, and we just happened to land in the middle of one on my first day in Seoul. But things looked up when we found a book sale and then when we decided on dinner at a “Mexican” restaurant! I’ve never had a burrito with potatoes and without rice or beans, but it was delicious and I didn’t care. The day wrapped up with a zoomy ITX fast train back home, which only took an hour this time.

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The next day was Sunday, so I went to JVC once again. Afterwards, Jin Ju, Doogii and I took a detour to the river, where the duck boats live (paddle boats, disguised as swans/ducks). It was an impromptu little excursion onto the water, but it was perfect. The weather was warm and summery, and once we’d paddled to the middle of the river, I counted 17 other ducks afloat! Lots of laughing ensued between the three of us, which it always does, and that put us in a good mood to walk home. After getting some groceries on the way home, we snuggled into a microwave chocolate cake and the first two episodes of The Office. (The cake was confusing and weird, but it satisfied my chocolate craving – the sitcom was also confusing and weird for the non-native English speakers, but it satisfied my comedy craving.)

That’s about all I have to report on for now. Thanks again for reading another garrulous post. I apologize if I sounded too irreverent in the first half. I really enjoyed Seoul, but it was such a whirlwind day that I just think back on it with exhaustion! I’ll end now with prayer requests, and thanks to everyone who has been praying thus far!

  • I met the university students I’ll be hanging out with once a week! They’re all sweet and funny and I think we’ll have fun exchanging language and culture. Please pray for them to be brave about using English around me, and pray that I can be a good example of God’s love to them.
  • Speaking of being brave…pray that I would be bold enough to use what I know! Today I learned past tense! Wow, moving up in the world!
  • Pray for me to be humble and servant-like. I have this not-so-nice tendency to be snippy when I feel tired/sore/annoyed/nostalgic about how it is at home. I don’t think I’ve hurt/offended anyone yet – heck, I don’t think anyone’s noticed it, I’ve worked so hard to curb it! – but pray nonetheless. It’d be awesome if I could win the battle in my mind and not have to constantly bite my tongue or worry that my slight niglings and annoyances come out the wrong way. AH!
  • Pray for the IVEPer from Zambia, who is supposed to be living with my family. She STILL doesn’t have her visa, and is missing out on valuable service time! I believe God will have her where He will, but pray in the meantime, that her heart would understand this, too.
  • Pray for my family, because I love them and they deserve it.
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4 Responses to “I Got Seoul, but I’m Not a Seouldier.”

  1. Mama September 25, 2012 at 12:54 PM #

    I don’t actually “get” the title: you’re not a Seouldier?? Because you’re a pacifist?

    • Deborah September 25, 2012 at 2:40 PM #

      The line is stolen from a song that goes “I got soul but I’m not a soldier”. Here it has multiple meanings, I suppose…I’m not a Seoul-ite…I’m not a soldier (was actually gonna put “(but I’m a pacifist)” at the end, but you caught it anyway!)

  2. Natasha September 25, 2012 at 6:54 AM #

    I love your updates. And I definitely know what you mean in regards to your first couple of sentences!!

  3. Mama September 24, 2012 at 11:42 PM #

    Awww, thanks, sweetie. I love that you’re “far past the beginner’s stage” regarding Korean food! Sounds like a great weekend. Thanks for posting. xoxoxo

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