**Disclaimer** I am in Seoul, South Korea. I am going to update with MY experiences and MY opinions on MY trip. I am in no way an expert on S. Korea or their culture so please take this as what it is: MY personal travel diary of what I experienced.
On Wednesday I went to the War Memorial of Korea.
It's a museum dedicated to the history of the army and all the problems and invasions with North Korea. It was fascinating! The first floor is about ancient fighting tools, boats, and castles.
The second floor is about the Korean war that occured from 1950 to 1953. They have all these stops along the way that explain what happened in English, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. I was watching a little video portion when this little old man started lingering by me. When the video was over, he told me that he is a retired Korean Air Force general and that he gives tours at the museum in Korean and Japanese. He was supposed to give a tour to a group of Korean army recruits, but they canceled. He explained that he is learning to give the tour in English and wants to try it, if I will listen. I said sure and he took me to the next room and explained what was occurring in the war at that time. He was SO INTERESTING AND ADORABLE! He did such a good job explaining everything and took me around the museum for the next two and a half hours. The third floor is about the United Nations and their contributions to the Korean war. It was interesting to see all the different uniforms and how many places helped out South Korea. The fourth floor was about the displaced refugees from the war.
My tour guide, Tae-Ill Moon, told me that he was two years old when his family was displaced from their village by the war. His mother carried him all the way to the very south of the country to a refugee camp set up by the United Nations. He was four by the time they made it to the camp, and they immediately set up schools in tents and by the river. He saw an American soldier one day and impressed him because he knew one word of English, "Hello." The soldier gave him a piece of chocolate and it was the first time he ever had a piece of candy. Then he ran all over the camp all day saying "hello" to all the soldiers, until he got a second chocolate, which he gave to his seven year old sister, because she had never tasted candy either. I thought it was such a sweet story! Then he got a call on his cell phone, that his army group would be there in 20 minutes for their tour so we quick finished up the tour. He told me about his Air Force plane crashing in the 1970s, and the other four pilots on board died. He was the only survivor of the crash and only broke his leg. He said that changed him for the rest of his life, because "my life is a bonus." He felt he had to try hard at everything to make his dead friends proud. He gave me his business card and told me he thought I was very smart for knowing about the Korean war, even though I don't live there. He gave me a hug and told me I was beautiful and walked off to about 50 young soldiers in uniform. He said something to them in Korean as I was walking down the stairs and then all 50 soldiers yelled, "Hi Christine" down the stairs to me as he laughed. I turned bright red and waved and headed out of the museum. I wasn't planning on spending so long in the museum, but I had such a special time! It was awesome!
I got back to Megan's around 4:15 and she got back a half hour later. We stopped in a few stores because I am accumulating different Korean chopsticks to keep as souvenirs and give as gifts (Korean chopsticks are regarded as the hardest to use. They are very thin, flat, metal, and slippery but I think I've got the hang of them now and can impress everyone!) We took the subway up to Hongik and met Megan's friend Daniel, who is from Colorado and teaches English at a different school. We went and ate Buldak, which is a spicy chicken dish. You get a big bowl of mushrooms, onions, cabbage, bok choy, etc all covered in hot spices and cook it on the table, like this:
then when it is ready, the server comes out with spicy chicken and puts that on top and cuts it up with scissors and stirs it all and then you eat it! It was delicious and hot!
Then we went out to a hookah bar and had a drink and talked. Then we headed back home on the subway which was crazy crowded, the doors barely close:
Megan said this happens a lot, though most of the time, they are selling baby bunnies! Weird (and wrong?) Today I am off to see the Andy Warhol exhibit and perhaps do some shopping in a big market again. Tonight, we are going out to eat with a bunch of teachers!