Weekend Trip to Korea: Random Observations

  • Delicious BBQ places everywhere, most of them with outdoor sitting (living in Tokyo really makes you miss outdoors eating). The moment you sit at a table, they’ll bring a dozen dishes of miscellaneous sauces, appetisers and kimchi before you even get around to order.
  • Hongdae (Seoul’s hip student-oriented neighbourhood) is really awesome to walk around, day or night. Cozy coffeeshops everywhere, open way into the night.
  • Gangnam and its more upscale locales is also an interesting neighbourhood to get a feel of what young startup-oriented Koreans are up to.
  • Hangul is so nice and easy to learn (compared to the common sense blackhole that is kana/kanji) that I found myself able to decipher restaurant menus by the end of the weekend. And yes: Korea has its equivalent to Katakana English, and it is occasionally just as hard to guess. Still is nice to be nearly-literate without spending years sweating over kanji lists.
  • In contrast to Japanese women, Korean female fashion is refreshingly more adult: lot less reliance on girly pink frills and other accessories intent on making one look like a prepubescent doll.
  • On the other hand, Korean male twenty-somethings seem a lot more into the asexual boyish boys-band look than their Japanese counterparts. At least for those that eschew the cookie-cutter preppy hipster look (guys: there’s more to life than round glasses, bowl cuts and capri pants).
  • I loved trying to figure the original hanja beneath random hangul words and often realising how close they were to the equivalent Japanese word. Once you realise that  (‘university’) is spelt , just like in Japanese, the name “Hongdae” makes a lot more sense (as do a lot of other words with ‘dae’ in them).
  • Even though very little planning went into the dates for this trip, it turns out that late-September Autumn was the absolute perfect time, weather-wise, to enjoy Seoul and its plentiful outdoor drinking&eating (never spent any serious time there in the Winter, but I am told, and can easily believe, that it is no fun at all).
  • Definitely going back! (but not in Winter)

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