Korea 2008 Day Fourteen: Namsan, Seoul

by Kara on October 21, 2008

Today we didn’t leave until 10:45 am. Stephen’s Dad changed his mind about taking us to the Independence Gate before leaving for Incheon for lunch. So at 10:45, we left to take the train to Incheon. We went to a (surprise) traditional Korean restaurant for stuffed roast duck. When we got done with this poor duck, there was nothing left but a bucket of bones and skin. It was SO filling, and when we finished with the duck, then they brought us a bowl of noodle soup! It is just crazy how much food they serve here. Stephen’s Dad doesn’t want us to waste an ounce, but it is impossible for us to eat the volume they serve.

A man is silhouetted against a window in Seoul Tower on Namsan.

A man is silhouetted against a window in Seoul Tower on Namsan.

Next, we headed back to Namsan mountain because Stephen’s Dad wanted to see if there was a different artist who could make our portraits. As we got to the base of the mountain, Stephen’s Dad announced that we were walking up. Stephen knew my knee was not going to hold out for that and told his Dad, who looked annoyed. So he said, “You take cable car and Stephen and I will walk. You will need to wait 45 minutes at the top for us to get there.” Stephen looked none too pleased, and I know he would have preferred to take aerial pictures from the cable car. But his Dad had made up his mind. I had to walk up about a million steps just to get to the cable car entrance, but I bought my ticket and got on it. I am scared of heights, so my eyes were closed for most of the ride. I got to the top and tried to enjoy my free time. I knew Stephen would be doubly disappointed because there was a fighting show with swordsmen in traditional costumes that he would have loved to photograph. It ended about 10 minutes before they got to the top. I had my picture taken with a couple of the swordsmen so I could show him in case he wanted to come back and see the show the next day. I walked through all the gift shops and I bought myself a can of lemonade soda. My alone time ended all too soon. Thankfully, it was the same artist again, so I didn’t have to sit still for a half hour again.

Statue of Ahn Jung-geun. Namsan Park, Seoul, Korea.

Statue of Ahn Jung-geun. Namsan Park, Seoul, Korea.

We went down the mountain on the opposite side from the one they walked up, and it was all stairs, unfortunately. I had bought a round-trip ticket for the cable car since I had no idea what Stephen’s Dad planned to get down the mountain, but I just kept my mouth shut. Near the bottom, we stopped at the Ahn Jung-geun Memorial. Ahn was the independence fighter who assassinated Japan’s Ito Hirobumi. At first, I thought the information in English was very limited like at many other places, but they had computers where you could read all about Ahn in your choice of four different languages. I was able to read quite a bit about his life, so it made the memorial definitely worth the visit.

Statue of Korean patriot Kim Koo. Namsan Park, Seoul, South Korea.

Statue of Korean patriot Kim Koo. Namsan Park, Seoul, South Korea.

After leaving the memorial, we walked into a park where there was a statue of Kim Koo. There used to be a statue of Syngman Rhee, who was the first president of Korea from 1948-1960, in the park – one which he had erected himself. However, it was pulled down by students during a demonstration. He also put his face on Korean money, but they replaced him with King Sejong. Kim Koo was a contemporary and rival of Rhee’s. He was the president of the Korean government in exile during the Japanese colonial period. Had he been elected the first president of Korea instead of Syngman Rhee, democracy might have come to South Korea much earlier than it did. However, he lost the election to Rhee, and concentrated on working toward the unification of North and South Korea. In 1948, he was assassinated by a Korean soldier, but people always suspected that Syngman Rhee was behind it. In 1992, his assassin finally came forward and confirmed that the government was involved in the assassination. Anyway, Kim Koo’s statue went up in place of Rhee’s, and Koo will be on the new 100,000 won bills (up to this point, 10,000 won has been the highest demonination).

After a long walk and a subway ride, we stopped for dinner at a (traditional, of course) restaurant that specializes in Nakji soup. My food dictionary says Nakji is baby octopus, but Stephen’s Dad said it wasn’t octopus but something “better than octopus”. The menu, said we would just get one non-octopus in our soup, but I got “lucky” and got two. Neither Stephen nor I wanted to eat the octopus (but the homestyle noodles were wonderful), but we knew we wouldn’t get away with completely ignoring the seafood part of our soup. The restaurant provided scissors on each table, so we cut off all the tentacles and ate those. Stephen got his Dad to eat his non-octopus head, and I hid my heads under the remains of my salad. I am sorry, I just can’t eat a head, even of an invertebrate.

Check out more of Stephen’s pictures of South Korea.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: