Friday was super fun! After classes, my friends and I hopped on a bus and headed over to the Han River. Jiwon brought his inline skates and so I borrowed them for a bit and made a couple circles around the Han River.
Since it was dark, we really couldn’t see very much of the river, but I really liked the night scene. There were so many couples there and groups just hanging around with drinks and having fun. We’ll have to go back with more people and food on a nice day and just relax by the river.
Right by the river are a bunch of food stalls run by some nice ahjummas and we bought a cup of 번데기 (bundaegi) otherwise known as silkworm larvae. It has an interesting taste and the texture reminds me a little bit of starchy corn. It was definitely a bit unsettling but apparently it’s popular here because in the 10 ish minutes we were standing there, a couple more people went up and asked for their own cups.
Later on, we met up with some other friends who couldn’t make it out to the Han River and hung out with them until around 1 or 2 am, which is when the night usually starts for many Koreans. However, we had a DMZ visit on Saturday so we all turned in… relatively early. 😛
The DMZ or Demilitarized Zone. It was actually really awesome. They forbid pictures in certain areas so I took what I could. Unforetunately it was a cloudy day and so we really couldn’t see that far into the area. From my pictures here you can’t really tell, but on a good day, you can supposedly clearly see the North Korean flag in their village. Here’s a little about what I learned about the DMZ
- There are actualy two towns within the DMZ
- One on the North Korean side and one on the South Korean side
- Each has its respective flag and the one in North Korea holds the world record for the tallest flag pole, the only record they hold.
- On the South Korean side, men who live in the DMZ are exempt from mandatory service since they live in such a dangerous area
- You cannot move into the village to avoid your service
- Since there is so little civilzation in the area, the DMZ is actually home to a lot of endangered species
- North Koreans have built tunnels that cross onto the South Korean side, but when they were discovered, they denied building them.
- All of the blue buildings are evenly split between North and South Korea: the microphones at the middle of the conference table inside them mark the split between the two
- The Bridge of No Return was named because it is where prisoners of war could decide which side to travel to, and once they decided, they could not turn back.
Many of these facts might be known to some, but it was nice to have a refresher on some of it and to learn more about it while we were there.
The day after the DMZ, my friends and I went to Incheon to see Jiwon’s aunt who owns a Hanbok store. Hanboks are the traditional clothing of Korea, often worn for special occassions and events. For girls, you put on the little under dress that makes everything go poof, and then the main dress. Lastly comes the top, which is usuallly two parts and has a cute litle bow. For girls, the hairstyle matters too, but I can’t remember what it means. I think that if it is a braid, it means you are not married, and if it is in a bun, then you are married. For guys, it’s much simplier, just some pants and a top, but there are so many different designs and colors so it was a lot of fun getting to try all the different types.
We took a lot of pictures so here are a couple of them with all the different dress types. Shout out to Jiwon’s aunt and her store where a good portion of the dresses are handmade. If you ever want to visit it yourself. Take the subway to Incheon and get out at exit ___. Then in the first skyscraper on your left, head up the stairs to the 5th floor. Sorry for the vague instructions but I hope you find it!