Monday, January 24, 2005

SOLEMNITY and Strategy

On day 1 of the Korean experience we went into Seoul and picked up a ‘buddy’. Her name was Rosemary or Rosemarie or some kinda floral related name. She was going home to Aussie after a 9 month stint in the UK via Seoul and she needed to kill about 8 hours or so so she decided that she would tag along with Etsuko and I.

I almost picked up another ‘’buddy’’ at Seoul station who politely asked me for money, when I refused he became rather insistent that I give him money and then grabbed a hold of me as I walked for about 10m. A gentle shove and he was on his way, but it was rather disappointing that my first impression of Seoul was being assaulted by a beggar.

After organising the DMZ tour and have some lunch (below) we headed off to a place called Jongmyo. This place is quite important in a historical sense. It is actually a World Heritage site which is kinda impressive. Apparently …it is the oldest and most authentic of the Confucian royal shrines to have been preserved. It was dedicated to the forefathers of the Choson dynasty (1392–1910), the shrine has existed in its present form since the 16th century and houses tablets bearing the teachings of members of the former royal family. Ritual ceremonies linking music, song and dance still take place there, perpetuating a tradition that goes back to the 14th century.

Actually it is just a place for oldies to hang out. They get in free and provides a place for then to stand around talking. There were large signs everywhere declaring in Korean and English ‘SOLEMNITY’. So I put my pants on for the rest of the tour there.

Outside the shrine there is a public area that more people congregate and have arguments over traffic disputes. Also people play a game called ‘Go’. The Chinese name for this roughly translates to the "Board Game of Surrounding (One's Opponent)", or, less literally, the "Enclosing Game". It was apparently very popular as many games of this were being played with many more hangers on having a good geeze.


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