Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Seoul Korea

The last time I was in Seoul was in April of 1989 --- I was on tour with the Brown University Jazz Band at the time, and our first stop was Seoul.

 (Nick Valentino: I know you are reading this. Did we do a concert in Seoul, or did we just stop by to see the sights and recover from jet lag on our way to Tokyo? I think the latter.).

 In the more than two decades since I was last here, Seoul has apparently changed a lot. Many huge buildings and new neighborhoods have arisen, and the city has become a bustling modern metropolis where it seemed far less modernized twenty years ago --- not quite third world then, but not fully modern either. Now, every street corner seems to have a hip modern coffee shop which would be rated as fashionable and stylish even by the standards of SoHo. Possibly the most notable change is in the fashions you see people wearing. The people of Seoul now dress indistinguishably from, if not even better than, the people in New York. The only thing you might notice different in their outward appearance is that they are all text messaging Korean characters.

One thing that has not changed about Korea is the level of hospitality. Foreigners, although much less unusual than they were in 1989, are still treated as honored guests. My good friend Jinha from grad school called up her friend June, who lives in Seoul, who quickly volunteered to take me out for a proper Korean meal. It was fantastic. (The highlight was probably the mushroom soup --- mushrooms like angel hair). I try to be an adventurous eater, so I ate pretty much everything in sight and even signed up to try the favorite Korean delicacy --- fermented marinated raw crab. Here I am pointing to the evidence that we finished off one of the little beasts.

 One thing that unfortunately could not be controlled is the weather. Coincident with my return to this country, a giant typhoon struck --- the worst in over a decade. Fortunately, Seoul was spared the worst of it, but some parts of the country got completely hammered with some major damage.

Added Comment:   According to Nick Valentino, we did indeed play a concert in Seoul, although I have no recollection of it at all!  I guess 20 years will do that to you!

No comments: