Winter in Korea – Part 8

Coming back from our vacation around Jeollanam-do Province, I spent a few days in Seoul being miserably ill with the flu. Thankfully, I felt better after 2 or 3 days, and it was back to being a tourist in my own home-country! Yay!

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Every year when I come to visit Korea, I like to go to the Cheonggyecheon (청계천), a stream and public recreation space in downtown Seoul (here’s my blog about my visit there in 2012). As a result of the $900 million investment by the city, the stream was transformed from a garbage dump into a gorgeous public walkway, often decorated seasonally. Since it was around Christmas/New Year, there were tons of bright lights depicting nativity scenes as well as some other random (but still pretty) images.

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There was also a light display expressing a desire for unification. Which to me seemed a little bit random and out of place among all the other lighthearted holiday decor, but it was still very well done in a pleasant aesthetic manner without being overtly political.

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There were also more year-round decorations since the last time I had visited. It seemed that after the advent of Gangnam Style, Seoul was really pushing for the tourism industry.

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After walking through the Cheonggyecheon for a little while, we decided to stop by one of the numerous markets occupying the vicinity. It gets a little tough to tell which market is which, since they eventually end up overlapping against each other. But I do have a soft spot for traditional markets, with its hustle and bustle, and fresh foods, and old trot music.

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There was a surprising number of tourists in the market, all clamoring to try some of the many traditional dishes that were offered in the “food court” section. I heard people chatting away in various languages – mostly Chinese, some Thai, English, Japanese, and others that I had a hard time deciphering through the noise.

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There was another place in the market that I wanted to check out, and that was the yarn street. Traditional markets are often divided into blocks where they sell pretty much the same things. That way it’s easier for shoppers to buy at competitive prices, and for the sellers to be easily found. I imagine it’s hard for vendors to make too much money off of this system though, but it seems to be working for them so far…?

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In addition to being a massive food enthusiast, I am also a huge yarn enthusiast. And the yarn street was everything I imagined it to be and more…rows and rows of yarn stores, piled with all sorts of goodies, from the cheapest and lowest quality acrylics, to luxury high-end imported yarns from Europe, and even novelty yarns like acrylic dish washing yarns!

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The best part of this place is that they usually sell everything at the super low price of wholesale! Most of their transactions are done in bags of 12, but with the increasing popularity of hand-knit and hand-crocheted gifts in Korea, a lot of their customers come looking for only 2 or 3 skeins of a certain yarn/color, so they’re more than willing to sell you individual skeins.

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Dozens of stores had their entire walls lined like this, with yarns from Japan, Korea, the US, and various countries in Europe. Of course I had to buy a whole bag-full of assorted yarns; how could I resist? They are now being worked up into a gorgeous pair of socks for myself. 🙂

Those are all the pictures worth sharing from my Korea trip, so I hope you’ve enjoyed! My next couple of posts will be about some of the more artsy-fartsy things I’ve been doing since returning to the US.

Signing off,
Marie

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