Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blog 5 - March 1

As we're furnishing our home, Avi, an Israeli music professor and neighbour, donated a coffee table that he and his Russian wife, Sophia, no longer need as its glass top is dangerous for 7 month old Gali who is now crawling. Good to see Avi caring for those pianist hands and Damien doing his bit to take the load! Good luck in the US with your performances Avi and we'll keep an eye on your women here during the next 2 weeks.

A man among giants or a giant among men? The Museum of Contemporary Art , not far from us at Gwanak Gu in Seoul Grand Park, has over 80 garden sculptures including this singing man and the moving lotus flower (video below), not to mention the inside exhibitions. It may sound boring, however it is a wonderful thing to do on a cold winter Sunday.

I thought I was adjusting pretty well until I began Korean language classes this week. After lesson one on Monday evening when we learned all the vowels including complex vowels, I came away feeling completely overwhelmed and stupid! After some homework and lesson two on Wednesday I'm feeling that this language may be possible to learn and I will see it as a challenge. I've realized that may doors remain closed without language. The class of myself and 4 businessmen, includes an Indian, Israeli, French and Japanese and is taught by Young Eun who looks like she's just left school! I will continue to update my progress. This photo was taken at a highway rest stop with all facilities, on our way Jeonju.

I usually avoid organised trips, however this excellent tour to Jeonju, 3 hours south of Seoul, was conducted by the Royal Asiatic Society and led by Dr Dan Adams who has lived in this historic town for over 30 years. He is retiring from his university position as Professor of Theology at Hanil University and this was his last gig. Well worth a visit. Jeonju was Korea's capital for over and home to the Joseon dynasty (1392 – 1910). Joseon was the last royal and later imperial dynasty and was the longest ruling Confucian dynasty ever. Much of modern Korean etiquette, cultural norms, societal attitudes and even the modern Korean language stem from the traditional thought pattern that originated from this period.

On our trip to Jeonju, we made a new friend Maria ,who invited us to Club Italia for lunch. We enjoyed a wonderful meal of spaghetti al vongole, (clams), calamari, both stuffed and fried, eggplant and tomato bake, salad, good bread (a rare treat in Korea) Italian wine ,of course , and gelato. A good chance to brush up on our Italian!

Maria (on the right in blue) is teaching Italian to opera singers and Korean students at three different universities here. Thanks for the introduction to a whole new community.

The best espresso coffee in Seoul is served by Vincenzo at Club Italia. We met Luigi and Anita who have recently arrived from Adelaide (he is a consular attache) and previously lived in Walkerville, an adjoining suburb to us in Adelaide.

In a city of 10 million, it takes about an hour to travel anywhere - I'm getting lots of reading done on the subway. Instructions to Club Italia are to catch the local bus to the subway station, Naksundae, which is on green line, go towards Sadang and change to the blue line until Ichon, then transfer again to the pale blue line to Hannam and then catch a bus 6211 to the Italian Embassy. Go through the car park, to the playground, through the double glass doors on the right and then downstairs to the basement. Quite a journey however well worth it. The transport system works amazingly well and I can use my credit card to swipe for buses, trains and subway and it all is automatically deducted. Here is the link if you're interested in checking out where we are.

The link to cyberstation helps to plan the journey with time and minimum changes included. Sometimes it's as crowded as sardines, at unusual times such as and other times it's quiet. This photo is about normal. People on public transport sleep or do mysterious technical things with phones and electronic devices - music, TV, games, watch the Winter Olympics, favourite soaps...

Speaking of links, our 23 year old son, Liam who is living in Japan, had his first online articles published this week in Design Droplets. This is an online Industrial Design magazine that focuses on the Asia Pacific design community. Check out Liam's writings at and

Among the modernity of life in Seoul, some traditions remain unchanged. Lunch is promptly at 12.00 noon and invariably rice, kim chi and other accompaniments.


Aviram said...

Cheers from Michigan. Hope that coffee table fits.

Anonymous said...

keep up the great blogging Susan would it be better for you if I came the week before Damien's sisters or the week after? I will be in korea for 2 sundays - one in Seoul and one in Daejon

CC said...

Hi Susan, another great blog. Liam's articles are very good, I enjoyed reading them. Sounds like things are picking up for you and I'm sure that you will master the language. If I had to put money on anyone its you. I can't understand the follower business I will have to get Monika to make sense of it for me, lucky I'm not attempting Korean! keep well say hi to Damien for me.
love cath

Susan said...

Dear Ronis Looking forward to your visit. Come any time before or after week beginning 8 May. It doesn't matter to us - China conference is 27 - 31 May.

Susan said...

Dear Cath Liam told me can reply to comments. Will respond to your email. Off to talk at the Seoul History Museum today. Snow on the mountain!

vivian said...

so nice to hear about your stories. vivian

lesley said...

Fantastic blog Susan, I would be really happy having found the Italia Club - it would feel like home!

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