South Korea – Seoul

South Korea is a beautiful place and the next few posts will briefly touch on dog meat, prostitution, Kim Chee, and the Joseon Dynasty. My good friend Rick put me up for a few days and showed me some sights. More on him later.

When I arrived at the KL Airport I got “Profiled” going through customs. In a sea of Asians and Malaysians I was singled out and asked to “step aside”. In the 10 minutes of questioning, and scanning, and sending my passport information to where ever they send it, I did not see one other person to be asked to “step aside”. I was profiled!

(Bankok Post)

Customs agent, “Sir step aside please, right over here. Passport and boarding pass please. Where are you from?”

I said, “I live here.” Being polite I also added “Where are you from?” dumb mistake. I’ve been through customs a hundred times and I know better. Only answer the question and don’t add anything more.

The customs agent looked down on me from his high perch. “I’m from Borneo.” He flipped through my passport. “So you live here?”

“Yes in KL but I’m from the United States.”

“Yes I see, thank you.” The customs agent calls over another agent and they begin to talk in Chinese I think,  “Wa wa wa wa Mr. David, wa wa wa American, wa wa wa Seoul.”

Second agent, “Waaaa.” He turns to me and starts a barrage of the usual questions. Have you been asked to carry any other luggage? How long is your stay? How long have you lived in Malaysia? Business in Malaysia? Traveling with anyone else? Reason for traveling to Korea?

“I’m on my way to see a friend.”

First agent to the second agent, “Wa, wa, wa, waaaaa.” He turns to me, “Holiday then?”

“Yes sir.”

Both agents looked at a computer screen in front of them for the longest time, “Thank you Mr. David, have a nice holiday.”

No one else got pulled aside, not one. Not to make light of people who really are profiled and victimized and fondled, and searched, but I just got served. I got profiled!

South Korea has a rich history spanning 3000 years or more. Today Seoul has nearly 25 million inhabitants and after the Korean War (1950-1953) the country quickly recovered and became one of the major financial and manufacturing hubs in the world. These two pictures were taken from the Seoul Tower and one from Rick.

There are five palaces built in Seoul by the Joseon Dynasty. Some were used for vacations, others to house the royals, and most were used to govern, plot wars, and run the city.  

The Jongno-gu Waryong-dong Palace was built in 1483.

The business end of the palace

Rick and his wife live 30 miles south of Seoul. On the way into Seoul we stop at a rest stop for lunch, cafeteria style, just pick up what you want. We kind of went overboard, wanting to try different items.

This is my dear friend Rick. He’s trying to decide what to try first. More on Rick later.

Mackerel and Kim Chee cucumber. I didn’t think i would like a whole pickled cucumber but Rick recommended it and i wish i ordered more.

Kim Chee ginger.

Vegetable and salted fish. The whole meal was very good and refreshing. Authentic as it gets in Korea. Next, Seoul Tower.

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