Contributed by: Benef Verell, CEO
With the Winter Olympics starting this weekend in Korea, I’m reminded of the short time we lived there. Seoul, Korea has been one of my favorite places to date. Unfortunately, this was the only city in Korea that I got to explore as we moved back to the States after only six months. Good thing I get to go back to Asia this summer as I will absolutely be making my way back to Seoul at some point. Here are five things I loved about Seoul; there are many, but for brevity’s sake I chose five.
Korean BBQ, Soju, and Cass.
I love spicy food and Korean BBQ does not disappoint. But beyond the food, I enjoy the camaraderie of cooking the food together with friends, trying and tasting all the various side dishes and fresh greens, and catching up with friends. Korean BBQ is a social event often followed by karaoke (not pictured, lol, but another classic favorite).
Well, in this case, I’m talking about one particular Ramen shop in Itaewon about a 5-7 minute walk from Yongsan Army post. This shop is about the size of a one of our bedrooms (not the master) and as I watched the woman prepare the ramen, I noticed she was using regular packaged ramen I could find at any store. However, there is some sort of secret additions, spices, seafood, meats, that make it most definitely NOT the ramen I find in the store. Spicy, flavorful, piping hot, deliciousness in my belly.
The Subway System
It’s very clean and easy to use. Not once did I feel overwhelmed or confused using the subway in Seoul. I did not venture out on the train system, so that may be different. From the previous Olympics, all the signage is romanized characters. However, the Korean language is phonetic, and I was just beginning to memorize all the characters before we left. Which means, I could pronounce anything I read even if I didn’t know what it meant. Good for reading subway or street signs and finding a random English word like banana.
I love wandering the aisles in these open air type markets. I’m not much of haggler, but I did manage to talk down the price of a frying pan. There’s so much to see and really good deals if you look. The department stores are pristine and have women only parking spots complete with uniformed parking attendants. I did quite enjoy Korean fashion and just browsing in general the large box stores (their equivalent of Walmart/Target I guess, but appeared nicer).
We attended both a soccer and baseball game while in Seoul. I was pleasantly surprised with the BYOB custom; which meant I did NOT have to pay $12 equivalent for a beer. I also became intrigued by the organized cheering. Typically soccer and baseball are not sports for which Americans have cheerleaders. But in Korea, the fans for the team at bat stand and cheer led by cheerleaders. The opposing team sits and is quiet and respectful. Definitely different.
I had to throw this in there. I absolutely love getting a chuckle out of signs, posters, menus, etc that have strange translations. Perhaps I can make a living off of going around and offering correct translations. Too funny!
Contact me to plan your vacation to Korea. There’s so much more to see and do in the country and I’d love to design a trip with you.