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South Korea

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S: A year to remember: South Korea 2011 - 2012

FC: A year to remember: | South Korea

2: Sujeonggwa (punch of dried persimmons, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorn) | Pajeon (scallion pancakes) | Tteokbokki | Fish Cakes

3: Naengmyeon (cold noodles with ice) | Tofu soup | Rice Cake | Lotus root | Kimbap | Fish bread (red bean pancake) | Hoddeok (sweet pancake) | Bibimbap

4: Geumsansa TEMPLE STAY

5: The temple stay at Geumsansa gave me a look into what temple life is like. The temple grounds are home to one national treasure and 10 treasures that are nationally registered. During our stay we made paper lotus lanterns, attended a tea ceremony, observed the monks’ during their daily 3 a.m. prayers in the main temple hall and completed 108 bows as we made our own set of prayer beads.

6: At breakfast we were taught how to properly dish eat and clean our dishes. At the end of the meal we needed to take a radish and using chopsticks and a small amount of water scrub the bowls – the radish being the washcloth. The group was a bit squeamish, but Stonehead, our monk for the weekend, mentioned that our minds are dirtier than the food particles left in the bowl. That being said, we all drank it as quickly as possible.

8: We were able to walk through the Second Infiltration Tunnel. the Tunnel was built by North Koreans to invade South Korea and was discovered in 1975. It can accommodate up to thirty thousand people and is large enough for tanks to pass through. In the tunnel, there was a bucket to toss coins into as you wished for peace and unification. I am happy to say my coin made it into the bucket! The North Korea Labor Party Building was owned by North Korea for five years before the war. During that time, the building was used to control people and reinforce communism. Many people were tortured and killed in the building and on the grounds. People used to say that ‘anyone who goes in there never comes out intact. | War memorial | Made from bullet shells | DMZ Trip | Second Infiltration Tunnel

9: Train wreckage | Guards playing soccer | Labor Party Building

10: Hantan River | Goseokjeong "Lone rock pavilion"

11: We stayed overnight at Odaemi village, a few miles from the border. I was fortunate to be among a few people to participate in a home-stay. Other members of the group stayed in the culture center. At the culture center, we made tofu, drank homemade makkoli and roasted marshmallows over a campfire.

14: Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival Korea’s largest cherry blossom festival – more than 2 million people attend the annual festival. The festival had several vendors selling crafts, trinkets and food. We tried silkworm larvae.

16: The Gam Wine Tunnel specializes in aging persimmon wine, which is made by the process of fermenting seedless persimmons. They have two wine varieties and an interesting selection of cheeses available for purchase. Many people stop to take photos at the staged tables and cardboard cutouts. The wine smells like nail polish remover and tastes horrible. We had a good laugh at how nasty it tasted - during my first visit, we tossed back two bottles.

17: Bullfighting is a 1,000-year-old tradition in Korea. It was thankfully boring to watch. The bulls just nudged their heads together and if they didn't want to participate, their handler took them out of the ring and forfeited the match. We made it entertaining by betting on the bull we thought would win. There was a woman handler that was super aggressive. She stood right next to bulls and didn't stop “coaching” her bull by yelling commands at him. There was one scary moment when a bull trampled over a handler. With a little help from his buddies, he got up and seemed to be OK minus some bruises. | Cheongdo’s Bullfighting Festival

19: KTX 190 mph

22: Seoul Tower | Tony's owner boosted him up the stairs to greet us.

25: Central Seoul Square | King Sejong Founder of Hangul, the native alphabet of the Korean language. | Lee Soon-Shin Defender during Japanese army invasion.

26: Gyeongbok Palace

28: Lotus Lantern Parade in honor of Buddha's birthday

30: Lotus Lantern Festival | Small Coin, Big Love Charity event

31: Friendship Festival

32: Cheonggyecheo Stream

33: Rainbow Drops performance

34: Pumba Festival in Eumseong Pumba was a name used to describe wandering street performers from the Joseon Dynasty when Korea was impoverished. Today the word pumba refers to gakseori, performers, that perform at events and festivals. At the event, the paparazzi were in full force. I later found out there was a national pumba photo contest which explains the mass of photographers fighting for the perfect shot of a foreigner dressed as a pumba covered in face paint.

35: Fire medicine

36: Boryeong Daecheon Beach | Fruit/Vegetable trucks | Loren & Brenton

37: Water games | Stretching before rafting | Paintball | Guide: “15 Koreans fit on one raft.” We think: “Ok, so that means like 10 foreigners per raft?” Guide: “OK, so 15 people per raft.” It was a tight fit, but we made it work.

38: The Haeundae Sand Festival is an annual event that takes place at Haeundae Beach in Busan. At the beach, I was surprised that I only saw one or two Koreans wearing swimsuits. People were swimming in their clothes (jeans, shirts, jackets) – some people didn't bother to take off their socks. I had a great weekend at the beach with lots of sun, sand and soju.

39: While in Busan, the girls and I stayed at a love motel. The smell, decor and personal care products offered were exactly what I expected to find at a love motel. Typically the room rates are much lower than what you'd pay at a hotel.

40: Boryeong Mud Festival Mud from the Boryeong mud flats is trucked to Daecheon beach. Originally created to promote Boryeong mud cosmetics, today it's a giant party where you can cover your entire body with mud and enjoy the blown-up obstacle course, wrestling pit, mud prison and more! Highlights: Watching the Korean pop group Dal Shabet perform and an amazing fireworks display.

45: MUD | Festival

46: Rafting: Hantan River The water level was unseasonably low, but we managed to find a few large rapids. During the journey, we stopped to swim and some people jumped from the rocks – it was fun to watch because the guides wouldn't let anyone take off their life jacket or helmet.

47: Tripitaka Koreana | Haeinsa

48: Busan fifth busiest seaport in the world

50: Jagalchi Fish Market The oldest and the largest fish market in Korea.

53: Haeundae Beach

54: For Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving, Loren, Brenton, Kate and I went to Jeju Island. After a 45 minute flight from Daegu, we landed in what is described as the “Hawaii of Korea.” At this popular honeymoon destination, you are surrounded by palm trees, cactus plants, orange orchards and beaches. The Island is full of museums and we paid a visit to The Chocolate Museum, Love Land and Mini-mini Land. We enjoyed watching an acrobatic show, racing go-karts and climbing a volcanic crater. Kate had never been to a noreabang (signing room) before, so our first night we ventured to find one. We tried two places. Although they did not say noreabang, but norea something, we decided to give them a try. In both places, we were frantically shooed out by a middle-aged woman. One woman was so frantic, she dropped the tray she was carrying as we entered the lobby. We quickly figured out these were not your typical signing room, but a room salons where groups of men, usually with colleagues or business partners,go to be catered to by “doumi girls” or female attendants who later may be paid to leave the room salon as an escort. | Jeju Island

56: Love Land

58: Jeju Mini Mini Land

59: Cheonjiyeon Falls

60: Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak UNESCO’s world natural heritage site

61: Dormant volcanic crater | Black sand beach

63: Jeongbang waterfall

65: Jungmun Beach

66: Once the capital of the Korean peninsula, Gyeongju is often referred to as “The museum without walls.” | Silla dynasty mascot Gwani

67: Bunhwangsa Temple Mojeon Stone Tower | Geumgan-yeoksa (Mighty Diamond Men) | Heavenly Horse Tomb | Tumuli Park

68: Gyerim Forest

70: Yonggung-sa What makes this temple unique is that it sits on a large rock along the ocean.

72: Yonggung-sa

73: Busan Tower | He wanted to take a picture with us and was adamant that his friend capture a good shot - he also wanted to be the only one standing on the step. | Yongdusan Park

74: Busan Gwangalli Beach

75: After a day of touring in Busan, Orla, Rachel, Holly and I had a great Mexican dinner at Fuzzy Navel and walked around Gwangalli Beach. We had some drinks with friends from orientation and then took the metro to the train station. We missed the last train by a few minutes. We attempted to go to a jimjilbang, but the guy at the counter said they didn’t allow foreigners. Not in the best part of town and not wanting to hunt down a DVD room (one we tried was for men-only) to crash in for a few hours, we spent five hours at the train station. At 5 a.m. we jumped on the KTX back to Daegu. It was a long night, but we had a great day.

76: North Korea | Dora Observatory

77: When the armistice was put in place it was agreed that each side would be allowed one village within the DMZ. Freedom Village (South) – every family farms 17 acres of rice fields and is guaranteed an income of $82,000 a year. Kijng-dong “Propaganda Village” (North). According to North Korea, the area is home to 200 families and includes a childcare center, schools and a hospital. From the South, the village appears to be vacant and the buildings lack walls and glass windows. The world’s third-tallest flagpole flying a North Korean flag over “propaganda village.” Until 2004, loudspeakers blasted broadcasts towards the south for up to 20 hours a day. This was an attempt to lure disgruntled South Korean soldiers and farmers to the North.

78: North Korean soldier | Photos and video being taken from North of our tour group. For safety concerns, we were given strict instructions on how to behave. | South / North | MAC Conference Room

79: South Korean soldiers stand in a modified Taekwondo stance, hiding all emotions. They must know three languages, hold black belts in two martial arts and stand at least 5' 11''. | Two South Korean Military Police now guard the room after an incident a few years ago. As the South Korean guard locked the door, North Korean Soldiers tried to pull him into the North. Today one guard locks the door as the other holds his belt. | Military Armistice Commission (MAC) Conference Room | North Korean side

80: Bridge of No Return that was used for prisoner exchanges at the end of the Korean War. A monument sits where the 1976 Axe Murder Incident took place. The cement ring is where the tree stump used to be. | Dorasan Station was built as a symbol of South Korea’s wish for reunification. It sits along the Gyeongui Line, which once connected the South and North.

84: Overnight in Seoul spent shopping, meeting new people and relaxing at the Hilton.

86: Christmas Eve

88: Christmas Day | High 1 Ski Resort, Gangwon Province.

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  • By: Amy S.
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