Just before Xmas, on the morning I was due to fly to Seoul from Osaka, it was announced that Kim Jong Il had passed away. Needless to say I was a little nervous about making the trip...
While the atmosphere on the streets that evening and the following morning made it appear that most of the locals were oblivious to what had recently manifested North of the border - only a couple of hours drive away - the increasing tension over the following few days was unsettling and I was very pleased to be returning to Japan..
I can't say it was the most relaxing of journeys, nor did I feel any kind of real affiliation with Seoul. I have no doubt that the Korean countryside offers a lot more soul and culture so perhaps one day I shall return... but for now, I am in no hurry.
I will admit to enjoying some good food and strolling around the colourful stalls at the Namdaemun market - following are some street scenes I would like to share.
night view... spectacular city lights
You could easily get lost in this rabbit warren. The markets are not just stalls but individual shops and large, multi-storied complexes - with busy manufacturers open to the public. I found it rather claustrophobic in parts and overwhelming to watch people rifling through piles and piles of super cheap jewellery and trinkets (which are marketed as more glamour/luxury items elsewhere) as though scavenging for treasure in a rubbish tip - it was a real mind-f--k and made me ponder why some of us buy what we buy as "status" symbols....
kimchee and roe sacs
fresh ginseng above
Blood and guts...
steamed and fried buns and bread below
Outside the markets the area of Myung Dong gradually turn into an upmarket touristy area with plenty of shops for young people and those with money.
Excellent Bibimbap lunch ( meat, veggies and pickles over rice), pajeon (fried vegetables in pancake/omelette type batter), kimchee in various forms