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2002 PART 2: The 2nd Half.

June...

Hiking, traditional birthdays, the Soccer World Cup and natural disasters...

DEAD TREES LOOKING DEAD GOOD.KYLE AS HIKER. CONVINCED?CHUNCHEON HILLS VIEW.

TAKING A HIKE. We've spent some time on the occasional ramble-type thing, recently to the hills of Chuncheon, a couple of hours outside Seoul. The countryside is really lovely, and looks very prearranged, almost as though a Supreme Deity with a firm sense of aesthetics has laid everything out with an eye to how good it would look. 

 

July...

The Red Devils.

TO CUP IT ALL. In case you missed it, the whole of the last month has been completely taken up with the FIFA World Cup, the Koreans stunning the planet by actually making it to 4th place. They were cheered by millions of 'Red Devils', the name of their official supporters' club, who poured onto the city streets at every game, all without a single incident of rioting or other crap. The rest of the world could take a leaf from their book - it was an intense month.

RED DEVILS IN CENTRAL SEOUL.

 

August...

Floods - The People...

SUNNY AUGUST. August is holiday month in Korea, but the hard- working Koreans are the victims of a sad mindset that dictates that almost all companies close for the summer 'holiday' during the same week. Those that do not close give their staff leave, which sounds fine but there's a catch: this leave may only be taken during the very same week that the big companies close. 
To add insult to injury, leave is generally less than a week, usually only three or four days, and this gobsmackingly includes a weekend! The boss will say (in a generous tone "You're getting four days' leave" but brazenly includes the weekend in those four days! This creates a situation  where EVERYONE goes on holiday during the same week, causing freeways to jam solid and stretching a 4-hour Seoul-coast trip to 10 or 12 hours! HOLIDAY FREEWAYS (Photo from Chosun Ilbo)

DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A HOLIDAY TO YOU? This is what they'll sit for a whole day in traffic to get to. Korea's got loads of beaches, but for some reason, people tend to flock to the 'famous' ones. It's a collective impulse that ends up with beaches - like Heyun Beach in the East Coast city of Busan - exploding under the impact of 800 000 holidaymakers! I can imagine all those Seoullites sitting under their brollies thinking "Gosh, I'm glad we left crowded Seoul for the weekend". Then they'll sit in traffic jams for another 12 hours driving home - or should that be 'parking'? LEMMINGS (photo from Chosun Ilbo paper)

Floods - The Water...

SEOUL RAINCLOUDS (photo from Chosun Ilbo)

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY! Summer is also Monsoon season. It's hellishly muggy and Korean skies boom with looooong rolls of thunder which go on and on - just like the rain. People keep telling me that the rainy season will end 'very soon'. We're still waiting...

FREEWAYS FILLED AGAIN. Is this really the only way to get the cars off the roads? The Han River runs through the middle of Seoul and it is a BIG one, but gets even bigger during the rainy season when it expands to cover the banks of the river as well as many of the huge freeways which snake along its course. This is a picture of the Olympic Expressway which the country built when they hosted the Games in 1988. It spends a couple of days under water every year - makes you wonder if the planners were expecting to use it as a regatta venue all along...

 

US AT A KOREAN BABY SHOWER

Happy Occasions

This guy, Mark Curry, first came to Korea from S.A just after we did (in about January 1998), and we became friends. He also became a University lecturer - and a married one to boot! In mid-August, we joined him and his wife Mi-Koung in the city of Chuncheon for the first birthday ceremony of their daughter, possibly the most important birthday for a young Korean. They're wearing Hanboks, the Korean traditional outfit. We are not - though I DID have matching socks...

 

Another Asian Birthday...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! It was my 37th on Sunday 18th, so we got together with our closest friends in Korea at an Italian  restaurant in Seoul. In the pic: Jong-Eun Lee (an ex-colleague  from 1997), Sung-Ho Kim (who we met in 1998) and Jenny Vrontakis (worked with us at DE Kangnam). A pleasant night...

LAETITIA THINKS OF EUROPE...

Another Big Move Looms

7 weeks to go before we leave Korea. One weekend afternoon, we grabbed grilled beef kalbi at a place near our flat. There's nothing like the mad rush of Asia at one's table-edge to drag one's thoughts to the green pastures of England, where we'll be at the end of October.

See the news for the first half of 2002 here, or have a look at the moderately momentous pages for the rest of the year by going to September Ends Our Asian Stint. You can also follow us to Europe via the Latest News page...

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