Yesterday I told you about the adventures I had in Seoul on Friday up through lunch. Today I will finish recounting what happened to me that day.
Following lunch, I walked south towards the 한 (Han) river in search of a museum for martyrs. I had memorized a map the night before, so I didn’t have much trouble at all. Down one big street and then follow the subway tracks as they ascend out of the earth to make the river crossing. I didn’t spend much time here because I saw a sign that seemed to say shorts are not allowed (at least that’s what the picture seemed to say, but I couldn’t understand the Korean). Since I was wearing shorts, I didn’t feel like pressing my luck. However, I did learn that 절두산 (Jeoldusan, literally “beheading mountain”) was where Korean Catholics were executed in 1866.
The path leading up the Jeoldusan Martyrs’ Shrine.
Yesterday I went on quite the adventure. I visited two art supply stores, found a museum for Catholic martyrs, saw the outside of Seoul’s World Cup stadium, and romped through several parks. I’m going to break up this adventure into two parts, with lunch being the dividing line. So today you’ll get up through lunch and my tomorrow you’ll get to find out what happened after lunch.
My adventure into Seoul started with me failing to get an early start. I wanted to take our video camera with me, but it needed to be charged. I also wanted to empty out one of my memory cards and charge a spare battery for my DSLR, just in case I took a lot of pictures. I brushed my tail. And I had dishes to wash from breakfast. So it was that I didn’t get out the door until around 9:30 am.
The walk to the subway station was pleasant. I didn’t even have trouble crossing the street at one particularly busy intersection that is lacking in walk signals. Though I did regret forgetting my Irish whistle. By the time I got on the subway heading north, it was 10 am.
Ever since the 신분당 (Sinbundang, but ‘sin’ is pronounced like ‘shin’) line opened, travel time to certain subway lines and stops decreased. For instance, I no longer have to take the 1005-1 bus to get to 양재 (Yangjae), which is where Costco is located. I can also get to Seoul subway line 2 much quicker, which makes travel to and from StarCraft 2 matches that much faster (not that I’ve been to any in a long while…). The current northern terminus of the Sinbundang line is Gangnam Station. Yes, it is located in the district that lends its name to the song “Gangnam Style” by Psy. No, I haven’t seen anyone dancing like that while walking through Gangnam. Though perhaps that will change if I wander through Gangnam next week…
I’ve almost been in Korea for a week now and I’m still not one hundred percent sure of what exactly I’m going to be teaching. I’m getting closer to knowing, but it’s hard to say without having the textbooks in my paws. I do know that four of the classes will involve TESOL and the fifth will most likely be a senior seminar geared towards preparing them for American universities. At least I now have a room. There was only so much I could do during the prep. parts of orientation without a room to prepare or textbooks to lesson plan from. Lord willing, the textbooks will be there tomorrow. With school starting on the 29th, I sort of need the textbooks to plan. So that is my current main quest.
As for my sidequest… While in Seoul on Saturday I encountered many groups of police officers in riot gear and surreptitiously snapped the following photo. One of my fellow teachers tried to get some officers to explain what was going on, but they didn’t really speak English and eventually one of them made an “x” with his arms and said, “Secret.” We happened to be in view of a platoon of officers and all of them turned their heads and looked right at us. Then one of them came over and asked us if we needed any help. We explained that, no, we didn’t need help, but we were curious as to what was going on. The officer tried to explain, but repeatedly said, “It’s hard to explain” and mentioned something about it being cultural. My fellow teacher guesses it is probably some sort of training or drill. Continue reading →