One place that has a special place in my heart and heritage is South Korea. My mother was born and raised there, and I lived there for five years as a young child. My father was stationed there with the Army, so we spent time in both Daegu and Seoul in the '90s. When I graduated college in 2007, my mother and I went back for a week or so to tour the country and visit family.
|Detail of roof at Changdeokgung Palace|
I do not speak Korean, but I can read the alphabet and understand some. My mother and I took a bus tour (with hotel overnights) of the eastern and southern coasts of the country, visiting temples, "heritage" villages, eating Korean food, and more. We visited Mokpo, Buan, Boseong Green Tea Plantation, Seomjingang Train, Jeju-do, and more.
|Boseong Green Tea Plantation (I was a skinny mini Army girl back then!)|
|Korea is a peninsula, so the people loooooooove seafood!|
|You see a lot of Chinese calligraphy in Korea.|
|Korean food is all shared, kind of like tapas!|
My parents actually honeymooned at Jeju, so it was neat to be someplace they'd once been before I was born. We visited Cheonjeyeon Falls, the coastline, and Hallim Park. We even stayed at The Shilla hotel, which is the same hotel featured in my favorite (to date) Korean drama, All In. In fact, we visited a few sites that were park of the show's filming. I learned a lot about the unique story of Jeju at the Folklore and Natural History Museum. We also saw a lot of Harubang, which are the stone grandfather figures all over the island.
After our tour, we reunited with family in Seoul. I got to go to the Korean Jjimjilbang sauna, one of my favorite things. (I wrote a blog post about jjimjilbang here.) I also visited Changdeokgung Palace, shopped in Namdaemun, visited our old neighborhood near Itaewon, and ate even more Korean BBQ than the rest of the trip. I don't love all Korean food (no kimchi for me), but I love their BBQ, and my relatives spoil me whenever I'm visiting.
I don't know the next time I'll go back to Korea. It's always best for me to go with my Mom, because she acts as translator, guide, and gets in touch with her family and friends and makes it more enjoyable. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can visit again!