We’ve spent the first week of this adventure exploring Seoul and all it has to offer. We’ve tried to establish a daily routine but there is just too much to see and do, plus good food to eat and relatives to visit.
We spent the first day visiting the imperial palaces from the Joseon dynasty, or at least their replicas. Due to the turbulent history of the region the original structures, which dated from the 14th century, were mostly destroyed at least twice by the Japanese. They have been rebuilt over the last two decades based on historical records and they are stunningly beautiful. Today (Day 6) we toured the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) and reflected on seventy plus years of recent conflict between the North and South. The locals seem optimistic about lasting peace and a reunified Korea in the near future. I hope they are right.
The food has been amazing. Given Marian’s Korean heritage we have been eating Korean food for a long time. It has grown to be a comfort food for this family and Seoul has delivered. We wish we were here longer to explore the wide variety of local cuisine from fine food to street vendors.
I expected the history and the food, but the family connections have been the best part. First, we are traveling with Marian’s mom. We refer to her as hilmunee (“grandmother” in Korean) who immigrated in 1968 with her husband to the United States. She’s the middle child of a seven child family, half of whom now live in the US and half still reside in Korea. We had a wonderful family reunion yesterday (Day 5) over an all you can eat korean barbecue lunch (I think they lost money on the Americans at the table). Through these interactions we’ve learned a lot more about our history and heritage, and met amazing new relatives.
Our time in Seoul has flown by and we will be leaving soon to visit friends and relatives farther south. We will miss Seoul and look forward to returning soon.