It’s all about the ancestors. The most Korean of Korean holidays (I think), Chuseok is when Koreans return to their hometowns to reunite with family. They often describe it as a “Korean Thanksgiving.” However, feasting seems to be a small part. The only traditional food is songpyun, a kind of rice cake.
Saturday I went to Yeouido island, in the Han river in southwest Seoul. Saw a nice riverside park with bike/jogging path and great river-view of the city. After it started raining, I wandered over to the underside of a bridge, where a social scene was happenin’. A group of young dudes strumming their guitars gave it a nice atmosphere. As I was watching the dudes, a small, friendly old man walked up to me a started talking in passable English. He gave the impression of possibly being crazy or homeless–or maybe just old and lonely. Why did he pick me? His clothes were a little raggedy and his teeth were orange; his glasses were crooked and not too clean. He did not appear to be hearing voices. I snapped a picture of him in which he is laughing because I had pointed my camera at him; he was embarrassed.
Seoul has some nice scenic spots: buttes, the river, parks, etc. On the other side of the island is an ecological park, which looked good for bird watches (considering it is the middle of a major world city).
Monday I went to Chagdeok-gung, a well-preserved palace compound near Anguk station. Lots of fat camera-lugging Western tourists and traditional Korean buildings. Whatever. There is a large forested area with a lotus pond and a pavilion. I want a large forested area with a lotus pond and a pavilion.
In front of the main entrance, I photographed a “pretty young thing” in a fancy, colorful hanbok, and she chastised me for not asking first. I say “pretty young thing” with just the right blend of sarcasm and sincerity (you can trust me on this).
She is about to scold me for taking her picture without asking first.
Wandering toward Seoul Station to catch the subway home, I stumbled into Seoul Plaza. A performance with an ensemble of traditional Korean drums was pending, so I sat on the grass and waited. It was great! Really positive, physical energy. Lots of musical and physical joy in the performers. It was primal and sophisticated and a lot of fun. I don’t think it was traditional Korean music, it had an almost rock’n’roll spirit and was not at all stately or folksy. Within five minutes I thought “These guys would be good for Renn Fayre,” which shows what aspects of Reed linger with me the most.