Bosingak, Insadong and No Baseball For You

I was anxious for a busy Saturday, considering I wasn’t able to explore last weekend, and I will be working the next two Saturdays. It’s not as bad as it sounds. We are getting paid for the entire Swine Scare Week that we had off, and only making up those two days.

After a failed Skype attempt with my mom, I bust out the Seoul books and check with the sights seeing bookmarks on the lap top to determine the game plan for the day. I decide to see Bosingak on my way to Insadong, finishing the day at Jamsil Stadium for a professional baseball game. Looking back, this wasn’t the best plan of attack because there is a lot of distance to cover, but whatever.

Bosingak is in Jongno, right outside the Jonggak subway stop, on your way to Insadong. It is a pavilion built to house the city bell. A belfry if you wanna all architectural. The bell was originally forged in 1468, and the current pavilion called Bosingak in 1979. Previous versions were destroyed in fires and wars. In the olden days, the bell was struck at night to signal the closing of the city gates and the start of curfew, as well as to ask the heavens for a peaceful night. And it was struck in the morning to signal the start of a new day and the opening of the gates. Now it is only struck at the New Year, apparently drawing quite the crowd.

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I arrived during the changing of the guard, which was cool to see, but kind of anticlimactic. Then I was approached by English name David, a Korean guy in his 20’s who was asking me if I knew what I was looking at. I said yeah, I did some research, that’s why I’m here. He was impressed, I guess a lot of people just stop, take pictures, and don’t know what they are looking at. Next, in what I am finding is normal for Koreans, he hits me with every question known to man: Where are you from, what are you doing in Korea, do you like Korea, how long have you been here, what was your degree, how long will you be staying here, what food do you like, do you have a girlfriend, how old are you…

David was very excited about my answers to his inquiries. We’re both teachers, both studied business and both have traveled quite a bit in the past and plan to see more of the world. And the piece of information that floored him…I am from Oregon. Turns out his good friend is studying Sports Marketing at UofO and he plans on visiting this year because he is considering an MBA in America. This friend apparently is selling tickets to baseball games. Poor dude. UofO baseball SUCKS! It took a while for him to understand that I went to OSU, which is different from UofO. And yes, UofO is a fine institution, but they are our rivals…and I hate them. He did finally get it though. And he liked that I was wearing Nikes, which he knew started in Oregon, and that I used to live right next to the Nike World Headquarters, which to any Portlander is no big deal. I didn’t get in to the fact that a good friend frequently hooks up Nike courtside seats to Trail Blazer games. He would have either not understood or had a heart attack in disbelief.

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David insisted I leave with his phone number, email address and the website to his company. He wants to show me Korea and learn about Oregon from me. I can’t quite figure out his company, the addresses are friendster and cyworld websites. Come to think of it, I’m not quite sure why he was there, at the belfy, if you wanna get all architectural. He wrote his contact info on a Seoul Metropolitan Government tourist brochure. I think he was there with friends/co-workers handing them out, answering questions, because he referred to one of them that he wanted to set me up on a blind date with after I said I didn’t have a girlfriend, which seemed like a bit much after knowing me for roughly 5 minutes. This all would make sense because he originally approached me asking if I knew what I was looking at, and I think he mentioned something about a part time job, in addition to his teaching at the University… but I think he was so interested in learning my story that he got side tracked.

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After shaking his hand, taking a picture and wishing him a happy birthday, I walked to Insadong, which was slammed on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Insadong is apparently one of the few areas in Seoul that still has some traditional Korean architecture and hints of the past… and lots and lots of shopping. Off the main street, there are little alleys that give you that traditional feel. It’s an arts and cultural hub of the city, tons of art galleries, coffee shops and antique stores. You will also find a lot of cheap souvenirs and street food. Today I ate super spicy chicken on a stick and hotteok, which is one of my favorite things that I’ve eaten so far. Almost like a pancake, it’s flat fried dough with brown sugar, cinnamon and crushed nuts inside. Ridiculously delicious.

Hotteok

Hotteok

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The Starbucks in Insadong is very unique. Heavily protested in an attempt to preserve the cultural integrity of the street, Starbucks made several concessions in order to keep the store open. Apparently the logo and store designs are pretty much the same around the world. However the Insadong Starbucks is the only one with a unique sign out front, it’s written in Korean. I read on a website that the phonetic pronunciation is soo-ta-bok-soo…ca-pea, for Starbucks coffee. I can’t read Korean yet so I can’t confirm. They also changed the interior and staff uniforms. Regardless of the changes that were made, people are still protesting. And regardless of the protests, of which I saw none, the place is packed and serving tons of coffee.

Insadong Starbucks

Insadong Starbucks

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Also, this is Beondegi, I wrote about it before. My co-worker had me eat it at a restaurant. I could smell the silkworm larvae about 20 feet away and new I had to get a picture.

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Next I rode the subway to Jamsil Stadium, home of two of the eight teams that make up the Korean Baseball Organization, the LG Twins and the Doosan Bears. The match up was the Lotte Giants vs. Doosan Bears. Game time was 5pm. I get there at 4:30 along with the rest of Seoul. I look for the ticket line, which is Korean organized chaos, and force myself in line behind a group of expats. After I ask, they explain that the seating in the outfield is GA, and roughly $8. Mid-explanation, everyone in line walks away from the ticket window… the game has sold out resulting in a few angry Koreans, refusing to leave the ticket window trying to force the divider so they could keep talking to the attendant. I was actually greeted at the ticket window, and asked if I can purchase a ticket today for the game tomorrow. The answer is no, you must buy the ticket tomorrow… and yes, today’s game is sold out. I’m not too surprised, although many others were. Jamsil stadium holds 30,500 and is home to two of the three teams located in Seoul. Mokdong Stadium holds half that. How many people live in Seoul?

I’ll save further information until I am actually able to attend a baseball game.

Learn Korean with KoreanClass101.com

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on June 7, 2009.

2 Responses to “Bosingak, Insadong and No Baseball For You”

  1. Nice info, useful for me… thanks a lot… 🙂

  2. […] Market Scooter Rally and Korean Movie Theaters Noryangjin Fish Market Korean Baseball is a Trip Bosingak, Insadong and No Baseball for You Mt. Umyeonsan, Daesongsa Temple and the Seoul Arts […]

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