Sunday, July 21, 2013

Scott in Seoul Part IV

(This was written one week ago, on Sunday, July 14!) 
Today was not as eventful as we had planned.  Mother Nature put a damper on outdoor activities.  Then again, rain is what happens during monsoon season.  So, plans got altered but we still had a great day.  With a late start to the day we headed over to see Ed, Heather and the kids.  Chelsea had a hankering for some good ole American cuisine. A Subway sandwich and a double chocolate cookie did the trick for her.  I opted for Taco Bell challupas.  

After spending some time with the Sieberts, and with the rain coming down, we decided to spend our day indoors and the perfect place was The War Memorial of Korea.  This was an amazing museum.  Now, you would think the only conflict Korea was involved in was The Korean War, and you would be partially correct. The monuments and statues depicted all aspects of the Korean War.  It was literally several museums in one. There were some halls dedicated to a few other wars and battles, but the bulk was devoted to the Korean War.

We started outside, during a short respite from the rain. Outside the main building was a military hardware enthusiast’s dream.  There were vehicles, tanks, field artillery, aircraft, armored cars, guns from warships, submarines, radars, and actual navel vessels all on displayed out side. All these weapon systems were used during WW II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  These weren’t just from the Republic of Korea (aka ROK or South Korea) but also from North Korea and the Soviet Union.  

I was happy and surprised at one of the airplanes on display, the B-52.  It was a D-model but a BUFF nonetheless. (I used to fly in these when I was active duty.) The cool part of the whole deal was that you could get up close and in some instances climb in the weapons system.  I remained an adult the entire time, but there were several kids climbing on various things. So after 30-45 minutes of inspecting the “hardware,” we decided to go inside. 

Inside was an incredible three floors of military history, most of it dedicated to the Korean War.  They had several interactive type exhibits, an F-15K 3-D experience, the experience of shooting a K-2 rifle and a 4-D “ride along” with the invasion for OPERATION Chromite (the invasion of Inchon) during the Korean War.  I did not realize that the odds of Chromite being a success were 1 in 5,000.  Yes, it was NOT supposed to succeed. I guess someone didn’t tell the US and ROK soldiers, airmen and sailors.  Within 24 hours, Inchon had fallen and in 13 days Seoul was back in the hands of the South Koreans.  We did the 4-D experience, very cool, although a 30 minute wait for a 7 minute ride/video was not much fun. But we were able to relax for a bit.  

An ancient exhibit I talk about in my world history class but had never seen a replica of was the Turtle Boats, or Turtle Shaped Battleships.  They were used to help defeat a Japanese invasion force in the 16th century. I need to schedule a return visit to the museum since we barely scratched the surface in the two plus hours were there.  I think I can find my way there without Chelsea (I hope!)

After several hours of war stuff, Chelsea “begged” (not really at all) to go shopping.  Since she was very cooperative with me and the War Memorial, I agreed to go shopping with her.  She wanted a new pair of shoes since the ones she was wearing were at the far end of their lifecycle.  After four years of regular wear, she has gotten her money’s worth (which, she says, was about $18).  She found her shoes after a bit of wandering in Lotte Department Store.  That is a 9 floor department store and it was crowded like the mall at Christmas time.  The only problem is, it isn’t Christmas, it was just packed with people.  I was informed that this crowd was normal. 

Then she “dragged” me over to the another area to look for some cosmetics.  We went in and out of store after store with no luck finding what she was looking for. But we did see the Tornado Potato vender; and we each had a one. She has blogged about those in the past, and they are quite enjoyable.  After a little fuel in our bellies, we were ready to move on with the search.  That search didn’t last long, as we found what she was looking for in two shops that were side by side.  

With goodies purchased, the mission was complete.  We headed for the bus stop and the hour long ride back to her side of town.  I am beginning to assimilate to the culture, I brought my head phones, plugged in, and listened to music the entire ride home.  It seems like everyone has a set of ear buds dangling from their ears here, young and old alike.    This has been an busy and exhausting week.  Only a few more days until my time in Korea comes to a close.  Stay tuned for more...

PS - photos to come...

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