Saturday, January 27, 2007


Stupid tourist Saturday!!

I met some other English teachers at the bar last night and they invited me to join them on their weekly tourist excursion.

Our first stop was to Seodaemun Prison History Hall. During the Japanese occupation of Korea numerous prisons were built and used to imprison and torture those patriotic ancestors who were fighting for freedom.

This was a gruesome place with audio and video displays that sent chills up the spine. When I walked around the grounds of concentration camps in Germany, I felt a much more eerie presence and a greater attitude of reverence. But here, the displays made my stomach churn with the graphic nature of torture and imprisonment.

The attitude of the place, I believe, is meant to inspire national pride and a common unified hatred of the Japanese. There is a beautifully large Korean flag displayed on the wall of one of the prison buildings.

We followed a Korean family through the grounds and the young girl was horrified by what she was seeing. Her mom continued to prod her from room to room as if this museum was a right of passage to adopt the pride of surviving Japanese persecution.

We had lunch at an Italian restaurant in Insadong and then made our way to the Gyeongbokgong Palace. Gyeongbokgung is the primary palace of the Joseon Dynasty and was built by King Taejo in 1392.

It has been burnt down and restored several times throughout the centuries and holds numerous national treasures. The grounds are immaculate and the buildings are awe inspiring. While at the palace, we toured the National Folk Museum and the National Palace Museum.

The National Folk Museum had a lot of information on lifestyles and agriculture which I found very interesting. The National Palace Museum had some very impressive items such as royal robes, jewelry, jade scrolls and examples of palace architecture.

Before we left, we were lucky enough to catch the changing of the guard. By the end of the day we were quite tired.

Upon arriving in Gimpo, I decided the best way to relax would be to go watch a movie. I highly recommend Miss Potter.

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