Top Ten Things to Do in Korea

Click here for an updated version of this post with photos and more details about Korea’s Top Ten Things to Do.
Now that I am no longer in Korea, I think it’s time to archive this top ten list.  I put together this list at the beginning of my tour in Korea.  It’s a list of the top ten things you can do while visiting Korea.  How many did we do?  I/we did all of the to a degree.  We didn’t visit a hot spring, but the chimjilbang was fun.  I never visited the World Cup Stadium in Seoul because it isn’t much of an attraction, but I spent time in the Olympic area to the southeast in Gangnam.  Which would I eliminate from the list?  Probably the sports tour.  In hindsight, there isn’t really much incentive to visit either the Olympic or World Cup sites unless you’re a sports historian or there’s an event at one of those sites.  Instead, try visiting the Korean Folk Village in Giheung, 45 minutes south of Seoul, or if you don’t have time, visit Namsan Hanok Village on the northern flanks of Namsan Mountain in Seoul.  You could also visit one of Korea’s other fine national parks, particularly Wolchulsan National Park in the south or Odaesan National Park just south of Seoraksan. 
In the next few days I’ll replace this list with a new list of top ten places to visit in Paraguay and South America.
Top Ten Things to Do in Korea
Visit Jeju Island
— A must-see for any traveler to Korea.
Take the JSA / DMZ Tour
— Don’t leave Korea without seeing it. Very surreal.
Go to a Noraebang
— Sing your heart out with Korean friends.
Eat grilled galbi and kimchi with soju
— For vegetarians, try a Buddhist restaurant.
Visit Gyeongju
— Ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty.
Take a sports tour of Seoul
— Visit the Olympics and World Cup sites.
Enjoy the nightlife in Hongdae or Gangnam
— Seoul is hopping at night!
Try chimjilbang and visit a hot springs
— Great for relaxation.
Visit Seoraksan National Park
— Great hiking!
Do a palace & shopping tour of Seoul
— Gyeongbokgung, Namdaemun, Dongdaemun, Insadong.
Blog Notes:  I finally managed to upload new music to World Adventurers.  You might notice a new song tonight.  It’s a little ditty called, “Ñambo Pajha Ñorairo” featuring Paraguayan harp and guitar.  I figured out that the Windows Media Player module on this site was out of date and needed to be updated.  I did that, but the sound quality appears to be average on the new song.  The scratchy sound you might hear seems to caused by delays in streaming the song from Paraguay (it’s on a site hosted by a Paraguayan web site).  I plan to update some of this site’s basic features over the next few days.  I’m trying to archive some of the Korean information to make room for more information and media from Paraguay and South America.  Please excuse the mess!

Tepid response to tragedy

I searched the Korean news media web sites for the Korean perspective on today’s events.  I thought the official response to the massacre at Virginia Tech was tepid at best and tasteless at worst.  President Roh Moo-hyun sent his condolences to the families of the 32 victims at Virginia Tech who died at the hands of 23-year-old Korean student and U.S. permanent resident Cho Seung-hui.  However, President Roh concluded by urging Americans to show restraint in response to the tragedy.  Although I do hope that Americans show restraint and do not rush to judgment in light of today’s revelations about Mr. Cho’s identity, I thought President Roh’s conclusion was in bad form and faith.
I was also dismayed to find that the major left-wing Hankyoreh newspaper neglected to publish any articles or commentary on today’s tragedy.  Instead, it chose to complain about the number of slots available to Korean students who want to sit for the TOEFL test, the test required for foreign students to study in the United States.  It also published an article on documents released about the U.S.’ alleged involvement in a "civilian massacre."  Blow it out your nose, Hanky.  You may not be a friend to the United States, but you should be ashamed.
I hope that Americans do not personalize this tragedy and use it to single out Koreans who live, study, or visit the United States.  The vast majority are good people, and Koreans should not fear reprecussions because of one man’s actions.  However, I am very disappointed by Korea’s public response to this tragedy.  For a nation that focuses incessantly on its own public image and is highly sensitive to how it is perceived on the world stage, Korea should know that it needs to handle this tragedy with care and respond appropriately when one of its own commits such an atrocity.

Inside North Korea

My eyes and ears still perk up whenever I see or hear something about the Koreas.  This video clip showing footage of life inside North Korea produced by National Geographic is absolutely heartbreaking.  No explanation needed.  Watch it for yourself before it’s yanked off YouTube for copyright violation or another reason.
Life never seems so bad whenever I watch video footage or see photos from North Korea.