I made a friend with a Korean guy who’s been living in the States for many years after I went to an adult school. One day he asked me what I love so much about Korea, apart from the drama which are mostly fake. Korean life are not as fascinating as what we saw on those movies, according to him. I said that it is the food, for sure. Korean food are mostly amazing, from the Kimchi Soondubu, Korean BBQ, kimbab, tteokboki to beef soup that I don’t know the korean name as you can see below.
I visited Korea before I came to US. It was like living a movie. I realized that I love Korea not only because of the drama, nor the food. It is the people, the culture, the environment, the technology, the weather, and the lifestyle. Small stores by the streets are like candies you suddenly found on your pocket. It just makes you happy, even though you cannot buy many things for they are pricey (except makeup).
The store above is on the street in front of Ewha Women University. I cut my hair on a salon next to that store called Elaine, and the interior is wonderful! It makes you feel like you’re in some royal spa-like where everything is in creme and black color. This store in particular, sells the cutest thing you’ll ever want from notepads, umbrella, clock, coin purse, and many other things. You will also find many clothing, shoes, jewelry, and makeups on the street. There is another shopping centre similar to this with greater variety, and more food stalls you can fill your stomach with, that is MyeongDong. It was paradise, for both men and women.
Not only shopping centre for modern lifestyle, Korea never forgets its root. Visit Insadong area to find calligraphers who can write your name in Korean Hangul (Korean native alphabet), buy souvenirs for less but also traditional handmade embroideries for a price you can count on its high quality. Dining and tea time is also part of their traditional culture, so you will find many restaurants with only Korean Hangul in this area (I do not have enough courage to go in, at all). But please do enter a famous tea shop called O’Sulloc tea house where all ingredients are imported from their famous island, Jeju Island. We tried the Milk Green Tea, not too sweet, nilky, but very tender. A bloomed flower on a very cold day.
Above all, I fell in love with the palaces and its surrounding. The moment I walked through any palace gate, it was as if I am brought back alive to see my previous life. It was how they preserve the memories by keeping every little thing original although some of them have been reconstructed to preserve. I could look at this view every day and feel content without having anything else at all.
My heart pounded so hard when this procession begun. It was on the biggest palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace, where they have Guard Changing Ceremony at certain hour. Make sure you will be there.
Just to complete its beauty, the toilets are clean, except for some public underground toilets like the ones at Metro stations where millions or billions of people are using it throughout the day. One particular toilet amazed me. It shows that they are not only hygiene, but have higher standards of living which allows them to pay attention to little details.
Toilets without this technology provides papers for you to put on top of the toilet seats like the ones in US. Tissue are also provided. Some toilets will even amazed you with its interior.
And to really fall in love with it, you have to sleep like you are part of them. The best way is of course to sleep in a Hanok (Korean traditional House). My choice fell to Bukchon GuestHouse. Minutes away from the palaces, in Gwanghwamun area. It will give you the ultimate experience you’re looking for.
In the end, I love Korean culture because they are very open and straightforward, smart in keeping alive their traditional customs and combine it with modern world, how they make cute things that touches the very heart of a women, and how the romance you saw on the drama is in the very air. It was not the drama, nor the songs that makes me weep. It was everything that had already been there and those that are created through their imaginations that makes it all happen.