Monday, April 6, 2009

Amateur guide to Seoul #1: Insadong

I need to follow these photos from yesterday with some interesting tidbits I have found out about the area of Insadong. All of these tidbits have been found through rumours, amateur research and wikipedia. Do not take them as truth.

After my lovely weekend - I have decided that for the moment, Insadong is my favourite place to hang out. It the place where I have seen the most real "tourists", rather than foreign teachers and there are many souvenir stores and outdoor music performances.
But even better there are amazing tea shops, winding little alleyways, many antiques and art galleries and of course, my favourite: amazing old men. For me, it has a real sense of culture and everyday Korean life but condensed in a small area.

I was really wondering why there were so many oldies in Insadong and was hearing some rumours that the Ton-Gol park where all the ajjoshis hang out is a gay park. I like this idea, the men, getting all dressed up in their trendiest ensemble to pick up an equally gorgeous boyfriend. I hope that in some cases this is true.

However, I recently found out that in early 1900's, after Japan's invasion of Korea, Top-Gol Park in Insadong was a place where Korean men came together to demonstrate against Korean women being taken in as comfort women. On the 19th March 1919 these men started an independence movement from this park and this is celebrated every year. It seems that it is a part of tradition that the men still come together to discuss politics and daily going ons in their life.

They also may be attracted to the "Baduk" park - where I would guess about one hundred men are sitting on mats, intensely involved in their game, either in quiet couples or surrounded by onlookers. None of these players or observers are women, so I'm not sure if we ladies are allowed in the park...when Kayla and I were rubber necking, mostly we were ignored though, a few men chatted to us and one just blantantly shushed us away.
Who knows if we were allowed there - we can play the innocent foreigner face anyway.

Insadong also seems like young couple central and it definitely has the highest percentage of couple wear that I have ever seen. Which is alarming and totally cute all at the same time.

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