Birthday in Seoul

Age is important in Korea. After, “Nice to meet you,” comes “How old are you?” The Korean language requires speakers to use entirely different words and expressions according to the age (relationship, class, etc.) of the person you are addressing.  Each time I meet another local their response to my age has been, “Well your American age is only twenty-four. Your real age is twenty-six.” Then I say that my world age is twenty-four and my Korean age is twenty-six. I don’t mind all that about age, but for the record, on this birthday, I’m now twenty-five.


With my leaving date approaching, all I wanted for my 27 25th birthday was to immortalized the gang in a photo of our favorite neighborhood spot, our little lily-pad pond. We’re missing two girls and a bike so a retake is in order and it was basically pointless. After the quick pic we had to dash off to make our noon bus. We were still missing one of the guys and waited as long as we could and the five of us girls crammed into a a single cab. The driver was understandably unhappy about this. We ended up running out of the cab in the middle traffic when we realized we were really going to miss the bus we’d already bought tickets for. I meant to run out alone and hold the bus myself, but all the girls followed suit and Lady Seoul rolled her ankle. She could barely walk all day and it turns out she tore a ligament! She says this proves exercise is just not good for you.

On the agenda:
Doosan Bears baseball game at Jamsil Olympic Stadium
Fireworks on the historic Han River (that I’ve been in love with since day one)

IMG_1800Making it in one piece.

IMG_1803Subwaying is a huge part of any day in Seoul.

IMG_1804Other friends shoot the breeze, standing in line for tickets. Everyone here is reading Game of Thrones.

945352_10151602574225783_1999057635_nEveryone a little happier after getting some food in their bellies.

So many things from my childhood that bothered about my Korean-American mother suddenly made sense at the stadium. There are no concession stands or restaurants inside Korean stadiums and visitors are meant to bring in outside food and drinks from the booths lining the outside of the park selling potato chips, nachos, hotdogs, fried chicken, pizza, burgers, beer and dried squid. We all agreed the concept was awesome and should be implemented in the States. Then I remembered sinking down into my chair any time and place my mother brought a beach bag full of edible odds and ends from home to the ballgame, movies, piano recital, church, etc. People can be pretty mean about “different” so the stares always bothered me. People tended to think she was being (c)rude but really she just has some different customs. So I finally forgave her (in my head, I’m never going to communicate this with her) for how uncool I thought she was.

IMG_0423Jamsil Stadium, home of the 1988 Olymipic games.

IMG_0421We surmised their was a negative correlation between how little clothing the cheerleaders wore with their actual dance skills. These are the girls cheering for the Bears. But The long sleeved, shorts-wearing Twins cheerleaders had all the real moves.

IMG_1815Lady Seoul and I started a game and went punch for punch for each waygook (foreigner) we spotted in Seoul.
I saw all these military brats first and didn’t hesitate.

IMG_1832Rival Besties.

IMG_1837More time on the subway. Here between transfers in one of the more labyrinth-like stops, four levels underground.

IMG_0427My favorite spot.

IMG_0443When we got off of the subway stop at Yeoui-do Island, the mood at the boardwalk area of the Han Gang was vibrant with locals and foreigners strolling along a row of firework and snack stands, music on the river from nearby cafes and visitors chatting near the bank.

IMG_0436Making magic.


IMG_0466Making Friends (with a birthday kiss). A dance crew came by while we were playing a few Korean drinking games. They wanted teach us one of their dances. It wasn’t so much that they couldn’t communicate well enough but that we are all just horrible dancers. Click the link to see the video.

IMG_0452A week later I taught a lesson on fireworks and how they damage the environment. Specifically how their composition adds all sorts of chemicals into the surrounding soil and water. Oops. It was lovely setting off Roman candles into the air and spelling out names out above the water but; noted. No more black powder in the rivers.

IMG_0426Yet even more rail time.

IMG_0471Koreans do not talk on buses. I’ve been shushed for whispering, even under the brain-numbing droll of the bus tires.Koreans do not talk on buses. I’ve been shushed for whispering, even under the brain-numbing droll of the bus tires. These locals chose the wrong ticket time home.

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