Notes from the Land of the Morning Calm: Korea

15-28 Oct ’06

This all started with a trip to Germany.

A few years ago, I ended up traveling back to Leipzig, Germany with my dad for him to reunite with an old friend and for me to learn a little bit about his hometown. For pictures and the story of that trip, go here.

Well, it turned out to be a great trip. I really enjoyed wandering the streets where my Dad had grown up, learning about what life was like in pre-war Germany, understanding a little more of my own heritage. My Dad enjoyed revisiting old friends and old neighborhoods, and having an interested party along to talk about it all with.

The trip was such a success that on returning to the US I suggested to my wife, Dawn, that we should arrange a similar trip with her parents. While Dawn and her sister, Grace, were both born in this country, their parents were both originally from Seoul, Korea. And while they had been back from time to time, and Grace had been there to visit, Dawn had not. So we approached Dawn’s folks about the idea, and they seemed willing to go back with us. Grace was interested as well, though we weren’t sure when we were going to fit it into all of our schedules. A couple of years later, a bit of good-natured, but insistent prodding on our part, and we’re all off to Korea together.

We spent 2 full weeks in Korea. Dawn and I flew in from Denver via San Fransisco, and Dawn’s parents came in from Philadelphia also via San Fransisco, so we could synch up there. Grace flew in from St Louis via Chicago and then Narita, Japan, so she met us in Inchon, Seoul’s outlying airport. Aside from some anxious moments caused by the plane from Philly being late and it looking increasingly likely my Mother and Father-in-law wouldn’t make the flight, all went smoothly (they did actually make the flight, with seconds to spare). A number of relatives from my Mother-in-law’s side picked us up at the airport, and took us to the Hilton where we stayed. We spent 5 days touring around Seoul, checking out old Palaces and the museums, and getting treated very, very nicely by many, many relatives. Then we took the train to Gyeongju, in the southeast corner of the Korean Peninsula. We spent another 4 days in Gyeongju, then flew to Jeju – an island of the southern coast of Korea. Gyeongju is UNESCO world heritage site and, as the center of the ancient Silla Kingdom that once ruled the Korean Peninsula, rife with historical artifacts and buildings. Jeju, semi-tropical in climate, is a very popular destination spot for both Korean and Japanese tourists. So in all 3 places, we were never lacking in things to do or places to go.

If anything, another week or two would have been useful..