Korea trip 2022-3, day 9 – 6 Jan

J’s friend HK picked us, then KJ, then drove to her place in Seongnam city (first city in Gyeonggi-do south-east of Seoul Special City area, but still within the greater Seoul area). She lives near Namhansan (the major mountain south-east of Seoul). My plan is to go there later, but we went today for lunch and a short walk around the temporary palace (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namhansanseong). We ate dinner at HK’s apartment, then went for a walk, during which it started snowing.

Hazy, misty, cloudy, snow, -9 to 5. 10412 steps (approx 7.2 km). Food: samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) and kimchi and potato pancakes. Car, walk. 

I needed a relatively restful day. We have switched accommodation from J’s brother and sister-in-law’s apartment in south-western suburban Seoul to her friend’s apartment in a new development. Weather forecasts varied between ‘rain’, ‘rain and ‘snow’ and ‘snow’. I probably won’t get excited about ‘rain’.

HK’s apartment complex is huge – 39 buildings, up to 24 storeys each, with 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 apartments in each, so nearly 4,000 apartments and 10,000+ people. Our development in Sydney has two-storey houses or duplexes/townhouses.



A coffee shop chain in South Korea has posters in the form


By itself, more better is either jocular, dialectal or plain wrong. But this may be two separate ideas (MORE) and (BETTER) (“We serve more coffee than our competitors and the coffee and/or our service is better than theirs”). This is reinforced by other advertising stating “More and Better” and “The more the better”.

On several occasions when I have ordered a cappuccino, I have been surprised to be asked “warm or iced?”. To me, a cappuccino is either always hot (not merely warm; I would never order a warm cappuccino in Australia) or at least by default. Cappuccinos also standardly come with cinnamon sprinkled (again, I would never order cinnamon sprinkle). I am trying to get to “without cinnamon but with chocolate”. 


I saw a business named I ❤️ DOG, which I thought could be unfortunate given (some) Koreans’ well-known but diminishing consumption of boshintang. My guess was that it was either a pet-friendly cafe or accessories shop (or both). Looking more carefully the next time I passed, I saw that it was an accessories shop and grooming service. In standard English, I love dog can only mean as food.

I also saw a woman’s handbag with various texts, including I love a dog. This is grammatical, but sounds strange to me. One would usually specify which dog one loved (I love my dog) or state a love for dogs in general (I love dogs). Saying I love the dog would be even more confusing. I really would want to know which dog in particular you  love.

Koreans take their dogs very seriously. I have seen several dogs being wheeled along in what otherwise look like baby’s prams. There is an old saying “Dogs have owners, cat have staff”. Maybe not here in Korea.

(I’ve had students say “I love dog”. Also, from a post in 2015, about a class in 2006-8:

One of my classes was focusing on animals. I`ll mention that dogs are (occasionally) on the menu in Korea. One of the questions was “what characteristics are associated with each of these animals” eg industrious ants, busy bees, wise owls. We got to dogs, and several people said “loyal”, “companions” before one stopped the class by saying “delicious”.)

Korea trip 2022-3, day 5 – 2 Jan

Clear and warmish in the sun with no wind, cold in the shade and very cold when the wind occasionally blew, -9 to -1. Bus to Mok-dong, trains to Dongdaemun Plaza and Hanseong University. Walk from Hyewhawmun (north-west gate) to Naksan Park, then to Daehangno, met J, walked to Ihwa Mural Village, 2 trains to Solleung (near Gangnam), dinner with a university friend of J and her husband (who I am Facebook friends with and who is a supportive fan of my photography), also met their son, who I had met the first time I lived here, 2 trains and taxi home. Steps 24,114 (approx 16.8 km). Bus, 2 trains, hike, 2 trains, 2 trains, taxi. Food: sashimi mixed rice; mixed seafood soup. 

After a disappointing day following the old city wall on Friday, it’s back on the agenda. This portion is impossible to miss. Except that in 2015-16 I did. Then, I walked north from the east gate, got to a point where the wall stop and I couldn’t find where it continued. This time, I started at the north-west gate and walked south. I got to the same point, at which there’s a modern gap in the wall the width of a modern road. That’s it, the continuation of the wall is just metres away. From various points I could see the portions between the north-east, north and north-west gates, which are spectacular, and I’ve just got to do. Ihwa Art Village, which is on every list of things to do, was a big disappointment, unless there’s some other part to it. An area right at the top of the hill (now cafes, restaurants, lookouts and the park near it (which I didn’t explore this time but remember from last time) are highly recommended though, as are the randomly chosen Cafe 369 near the north-west gate and Ohana restaurant at the top of the hill.

J’s sister-in-law MH arrived back from another country, where her husband is working and their son graduated from university (studying in English at a university there). 

Korea trip 2022-3, day 4 – 1 Jan

Bus to Mok-dong, train right across to Gandong then another to a station near there (Purple line 5 splits into two – we might have caught one train but were on the other), picked up by one of J’s nieces, apart from a trip to a coffee shop, we were at J’s oldest sister’s apartment all day, with oldest sister, her husband, his mother, their two children, spouses and two children each, second sister and her husband, and older younger brother’s wife (all of whom I’ve met before; the youngest nephew is too young to remember me – I last saw him at his first birthday); reverse transport (one train) on the way home (in three days of being out and about, I’ve spent about AUD12 on public transport).  

We were planning to meet J’s family for lunar new year (and still are), but her first sister organised about half the family to meet today. Plans are in progress for most/most/all to meet for lunar new year.

Clear and relatively warm (or less cold), temperature -4 to 4. Steps 5104 (approx 3.5 km), bus, 2 trains, car; car 1 train, bus. Food: lunch, rice cake soup; dinner – everything plus rice dumpling and mushroom soup. 

Korea trip 2022-3, day 3 – 31 Dec

Bus to city to collect backpack, which I’d left at the restaurant last night, two trains and taxi to Mangwon (west of city) to meet friend KJ, lunch, walk to Mangwon Han River park, Battleship Park, walk along river to Sky Park, then past World Cup stadium to KJ’s apartment, dinner, two buses home

Cloudy but dry, cloud cleared late, temperature -9 to 5. Steps 24,884 (approx 17.4 km) (which would otherwise have been a record, except for yesterday) (much flatter than yesterday; the road up to Sky Park isn’t onerous). Bus, 2 trains, river and park walk, 2 buses. Food: lunch, hanjeongshik (rice with many, many side dishes to be mixed together); dinner sushi, fish roe and kimchi soup, stir-fried beef and bean sprouts

(Google Maps’ location tracker isn’t very accurate – the walk across the Han River just didn’t happen. Possibly Naver or Kakao maps is more accurate, but I’m used to this now.

Korea trip 2022-3, day 2 – 30 Dec

bus to Mokdong, train to Dongdaemun Design Plaza station, Dongdaemun gate, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Namsan, Namdaemun gate, Namdaemun market, Sejongno, met Inyoung at a coffee shop in Gwanghwamun, light festival, bus home

Temperature -7 to 2, clear, mostly calm. Steps 35,114 (approx 24.5 km) (by far a new record). Bus, metro, hike, bus. Food: nacho cheese burger on Namsan, meat patty and sweet like a churro in Namdaemun, seolleongtang (sliced beef, green onions, noodles and rice in broth) in Gwangwhamun. 

High on my list of things to do was the Seoul City Wall trail. The wall was built in 1394 and is in a variety of conditions from (mostly) original, added to or rebuilt in old times, (mostly) destroyed or completely obliterated by modern development. I have been to most places along the southern portion, but not Bukhaksan to the north, so this was theoretically a way to string them all together. I had found an online copy of the guide book, and had assumed that printed copies would be relatively easy to find, but the tourist information booth at Dongdaemun Plaza didn’t have any and suggested going to the City Wall Museum, which was out of my way. But there was a map in Korean. 

Along the way I visited (to some degree) Dongdaemun gate, the Cheonggyecheon, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Jangchungdan Park, Dongkuk University (I had applied for jobs there – imagine the walking and photography I would have got done), Namsan, Seoul Tower, Dongdaemun gate, Dongdaemun market, Gwanghwamun Plaza and a light festival (there was also a light display at Cheonggye Plaza). My wife J (having done her own things for the day) joined me for dinner at a small restaurant behind the Sejong Centre and a short wander around the festival. 

My original plan was to continue with the city wall walk tomorrow, but after 35,000 steps and getting lost once (I should have stuck to my original plan), the next leg (ha!) (from Namdaemun to Seodaemun and Inwansan) is going to have to wait. We have been invited to hike on Inwansan by J’s old hiking group later in this trip, but my experience of Korean hiking groups is that walk super-fast and don’t allow stopping to take photos (which, for me, is the point of going anyway). Then on the bus home her friend KJ rang and suggested meeting tomorrow at Sky Park (Hanuel Gongwon) near the World Cup Stadium, which we’ve been to before but it’s big and there are many parts I haven’t been to. Shortly after, I realised that I didn’t have my backpack (which I probably hadn’t needed anyway). We got off the bus and J very cleverly traced the random restaurant we’d been to by searching for seolleongtang Ganghwamun and recognised it from any other restaurant in Ganghwamun. Yes, they had my backpack and we could collect it tomorrow morning. 

Korea trip 2022-3, day 1 – 29 Dec

Suburban Sydney driver service to Sydney Airport, 10.20 scheduled/10.50 actual flight to Incheon 19.00 scheduled/18.41 actual, airport bus to Gimpo airport then taxi to my wife’s brother and sister-in-law’s house in suburban Seoul.

As an Australian, I get 90-day visa-free entry, but as a COVID measure I had to apply for an electronic travel authority. I applied several weeks ago, and got an email with a big green tick and ‘application complete’. When we got to the airport, I showed it to the check-in person, who said I needed a second email with ‘K-ETA granted’. There was no other email and he checked the ETA system and couldn’t find mine. He said I’d have to apply again. I logged on (hooray for mobile phones) and after entering my passport number and email address got a message saying ‘A valid authority already exists’. I showed that to the man, who meanwhile had called his supervisor who checked in a different way and that worked. So I was through. (There was also a second, related procedure I had to do online but that went without a problem. We had our temperature checked but didn’t have to answer any questions about ) I also had a minor delay in getting my hiking boots through the scanner. (My wife got an actual visa in order to operate bank accounts, mobile phones and possibly other things here.)

South Korea has an extensive network of airport buses to various places around greater Seoul and most cities further afield. We took a bus to Gimpo Airport and a taxi to my wife’s brother and sister-in-law’s house (approximately Mok-dong). When she gave the address, the driver told her to repeat it to the GPS app, which processed her speech into a destination … then dropped us a block away, which we had no hope of recognising in the dark (though we knew we were very close). BTW J’s brother is currently working overseas and her sister-in-law is visiting him, so we have their place to ourselves. 

There were small patches of snow on the ground and a forecast of snow overnight, and there’s a tiny amount on the roads this morning. There is no more on the 1-2 week forecast.

Mornings are very dark in the middle of winter. I’m typing this at 7.30 the next morning, and the eastern sky is just beginning to lighten. Compared to it being full daylight when we left home at 6 am yesterday. In fact, the daylight map on the plane showed that the sun sets in Seoul before it does in Sydney, even though Seoul is further west. 

4040 steps, car, plane, airport bus, taxi. Food: airline bibimbap and spicy pork.

How many?

I am researching places to go and things to do in South Korea. We’ve booked flights there at the end of Dec and back at the end of Jan. In fact, I ‘ve been researching since before the travel restrictions started. We were just about to book travel to South Korea and Europe. 

The N TERRACE restaurant at N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower) is 

One of the few most romantic places in Korea!

Unlike one of the only places, which has its defenders but I find meaningless even as I understand what the person is trying to mean, one of the few most romantic places does make sense, mostly. There are romantic places in Korea. This is one of the romantic places in Korea. There are the most romantic places in Korea. This is one of the most romantic places in Korea. There are few most romantic places in Korea. This is one of the few most romantic places in Korea. (Compare One of the few romantic places in Korea!)

It makes sense, but it’s very awkward. We expect the most to be either one or few at most. Having many mosts defeats the purpose of them being most

A Google search shows one of the few most:

stable currencies, important ways, talented and complete musician [sic], natural sites, beautiful Islamic prayer quotes, prestigious museums

In most cases, either few or most would suffice, few if you want to imply a smaller number (one of the few stable currencies) and most if you don’t (one of the most important ways).

One of the few most important musician is plain wrong. Few must be followed by a plural noun. 

999th post – A tale of two cities

I have occasionally pondered the similarities and differences between these two cities (shown above as close as I can to the same scale). I think there are more differences than similarities. Both are the biggest city in their country, but Seoul comprehensively so and Sydney only just (and is projected to be overtaken by Melbourne sooner rather than later). Seoul is the capital of South Korea, but Sydney isn’t the capital of Australia, even though many people around the world think or assume it is. As a result, Sydney (and/or Melbourne) dominate economically and culturally, but not politically (at least at the national level; they dominate their respective states). 

Geographically, both sit between the ocean and mountains. Even though South Korea is overall more mountainous, Wentworth Falls (at the far left of the Sydney map) is higher in elevation than Bukhansan. It’s just that Bukhansan is located comparatively much closer to its city. (Also, Mount Kosciuszko (the highest mountain on mainland Australia) is higher than Hallasan, and Mawson Peak (the highest on an outlying territory) is (just) higher than Mount Baekdu.) Both are at similar latitudes (Seoul 37ºN and Sydney 33ºS), but Seoul’s weather is dominated by the Siberian high and East Asian monsoon, meaning very cold winters (with snow) and very wet summers (with occasional typhoons) while Sydney’s is more equable, very rarely getting super-cold or super-hot (at least towards the coast; my inland suburb is more variable, and one day a few years ago a suburb near here was the hottest place on the planet). 

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