Sunday, December 31, 2006

Busan to Seoul

Yesterday marked my first day in Seoul, the capital of Korea. I'm staying with someone else from couchsurfing here. She apparently had another guest from staying, so we both got taken out to Karubi, which is Korean BBQ. It was very delicious. We also at a cold buckwheat noodle soup in an anchovie broth. We ate it with a vinegar topping. Good stuff! We later ate some really spicy food and a great soju-yogurt drink that tastes really good. is great. I think I'm gonna look at this as well.

Today I hopped on a subway to visit the War Memorial of Korea and Gyeongbokgung Palace. Near the Ministry of National Defense, the War Memorial is a museum that chronicles most of this country's tragic history of invasions by Chinese, Japanese, and North Koreans. It also seems to serve as a patriotic tool to teach the Koreans how tough they are and about all the equipment that the ROK Defense Forces use. Judging from the museum alone, the Koreans seemed quite boastful of their military strength. I had to smile at a number of the exhibits and that blantantly glossed over obvious defeats to tell stories of victory. One video in English said, "under intense pressure, the ROK army successfully withdrew..." I tried my best not to laugh.

But I still had lots of fun running around the outdoor exhibit, which featured a whole heaping helping of tanks, AA guns, bombers, helicopters, Amphibious Assault vehicles, Howitzers, fighter jets, trainer jets, Armored Personel Carriers, Naval Guns, from WWII to today. They also had the Soviet and Chinese counterparts for most of the tanks and artillery. Highlights included a submarine, A B-52, several transport planes you could walk through, and a Korean version of a M1-A1 Abrams tank (they failed to mention that it was developed in the USA).

I also went to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was the center of King Taejo's Joseon Dynasty. Unfortunatly, the information display seemed more interested in telling about how many times the Japanese destroyed it instead of giving much information on the palace itself. I did get to see a cool changing of the guard ceremony, and got my picture taken as a guard for free.

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