It's now been over 3 months since I first got to Korea, and I'm as happy with my decision now as I've been to date. Teaching is going really, really well for me. I feel like my classes respond well to me and that I'm able to build good rapport with all of my students. I've been hanging out with a new group of Korean friends the last month, and they are all crazy fun to spend time with. Maybe even one in particular, haha.
A few weeks ago I headed out with my new-found friends for a day of Korean culture and history. We started by visiting Bukchon Hanok Village. A hanok (한옥) is a traditional Korean-style house, dating to before the Korean War. There simply aren't many of these left since nearly all of Seoul was destroyed in the War. So I really felt like I was stepping back in time a bit.
An interesting contrast with Seoul in the background
After we spent a good chunk of the day walking through the neighborhood and exploring old-style Korea, we moved on to Gyeonbok Palace (경복궁) which is located very close to Bukchon. I'd been to this palace before, actually my second day in Korea, but it was quite a bit different seeing all of the foliage filled out since the first time was during winter. I got really lucky because they were having a reenactment of a royal ceremony while we were there. I was with four Korean friends, none of which had ever seen this special performance before.
My awesome tour guides for the day!
After the palace we went to an area called Insadong (인사동), which is another traditional Korean area filled with shops and restaurants. We ate some traditional Korean food and drank a traditional Korean drink called makgeolli (막걸리). It's a delicious wheat/rice based wine. Micah and Michelle were in the area and decided to join us around the time the makgeolli was ordered, which I find to be suspicious and terrific timing.
Overall, this was probably my favorite day since I've been in Korea. I got a chance to see and experience a lot of culture, and best of all I had great company all day. This same group is getting together this weekend, and we'll do our best to recreate the experience. I hope we can manage to pull it off.