Sunday, October 18, 2009

Korea Day 3 - Who Are These People?

Yesterday I gave you a blizzard of photos. Today it's more words. I want to tell you some of the reasons that I think Korea is a treasure. Somebody said that they thought that Korea was the Italy of Asia, and as a lover of Italy and all things Italian, that feels right to me. There is a fresh and joyful feeling here. The people seem very family-centered. Yesterday (Sunday) there were families with their children everywhere we went - looking at art, picnicking , playing together, eating out. Another thing is that it feels completely safe here. People are scrupulously honest and considerate. If you lose something, you can rest assured that no-one will pick it up and keep it - it will still be there when you go back to retrieve it. We have seen no homeless people, no beggars, and the streets are immaculately clean. And we're not just walking in tourist areas. People are friendly, respectful, and forthcoming. Young people often walk up to us and spontaneously start conversations. And we've loved the laughter here, so bubbling and heart-felt!

There is a huge eco-consciousness here. Everything is "green", recycling is practiced everywhere, and people make a big point of pointing that out. Bathrooms are astonishingly modern, immaculate and streamlined. It's not at all unusual to find bidet-type toilet seats (like our Toto at home) in many public bathrooms, and all the plumbing fixtures are very clean-lined, and up to the minute. For example they have hand-dryers in bathrooms where you insert your hands between two panels, and they are blasted with warm air. Yesterday we spent much of the day at the Seoul Olympic stadium, visiting the 2009 Design Olympics - a huge mega-event with some of the most exciting art installations, design innovations, model buildings, etc. etc. I'm sure Daniella will write about all that. But at every entrance to this huge stadium, they had a crew of people having us sanitize our hands, and then blasting our shoes with some kind of a germ-killing mist. I don't know how people get sick here, because everyone eats so much hot food it undoubtedly kills every form of bacteria! To top it all off, there is no tipping anywhere, any time, and no sales tax. The price you see is what you pay. Period. What's not to love about that?!

So, about yesterday - many hours at the Seoul 2009 Design Olmypiad. Then into an area of the city called something like Dong Yuk (?) where the theater section is. I walked alone for more than an hour through streets filled to the brim with young people who were going to clubs, strolling around, eating fast food, and watching a big rock-music festival that was happening in a nearby park. We went into a gallery and met the artist of a delightful show, who had lived in Italy for 5 years. He spoke no English, but we talked in Italian for awhile, and he drew a little goat for us in the book of his work that we purchased. At 6 pm we went to a Performance Art event where the three people showed above did art work and drawing on stage, combined with lots of miming and audience-participation improv. It was delightful and exciting! Later we at at a "chicken and beer" restaurant in that neighborhood, then came home and collapsed! Now we're off to the races once again. Loving every minute!

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