November 23-27, 2003, Seoul, South Korea

I was in Seoul for the Korean Game Developers Conference, and had gotten there a day early. My new friend, game designer Taesun Yeom, had volunteered to show me some sights. First he took me to Kamex, and then Taesun called his friend, fellow game designer Sung-Eaun Park. She came to Coex to go with us and see historical landmarks of Seoul. She told me to call her "Earny," because that's the closest we English speakers would be able to get to the proper pronunciation of her regular nickname, Eauny. Earny works for Gravity Software, the publisher of the MMORPG Ragnarok, designing games for cell phones. This is Earny and me at the food court in Coex.
Earny took us via subway to Namsangol. It's a traditional Korean village. Taesun had never been there before.
Namsangol has a number of old-style Korean buildings. Although it was pretty cold that day, there were lots of visitors at the village. Taesun and Earny are seen here getting a look inside, together with a family group.
Earny's "dica" (digital camera) did a great job capturing the shaded interior details of this traditional house. And I had a chance to sit down for a second.
These ladies are "ironing" clothes the old-fashioned way. The hairdos may be kinda newfangled, though... (^_^) Photo by Earny.
Taesun rests at a house decorated with Korean-style kites. Photo by Earny.
Last picture (me & Earny) before leaving Namsangol for the next stop on the sightseeing tour. Photo by Taesun, obviously (Earny's camera).
Our next stop after Namsangol was Gyeonbokgung, the old imperial palace.
Reminiscent of London's Buckingham Palace or London Tower, guards in traditional uniforms stand watch at the entrance.
Looking through the arch, you can see the palace buildings within.
We saw the changing of the guard ceremony. Here are Taesun and me, mugging with a guard.
The palace has a complex of courtyards and interesting buildings. Earny took this shot of a throneroom interior (she had to shoot through a little gap at the side - the front door of the hall was too crowded and poorly visible). Check out the dragons in the big painting.
I commented to Earny how interesting I found the color scheme of this palace building, and she grabbed this shot. My dica wouldn't have done it justice.

I commented to Earny and Taesun about the detail of the decoration on the ends of all the roof beams, and Earny took this shot...

I am so impressed by Earny's framing of this shot. What drama! Did I mention that she's an artistically-trained game designer?

My favorite spot in the palace was the pavilion and mirror lake. Bear with me while I show you no less than three pictures of it.
Tree branches frame the pavilion, and you can see modern city structures on the skyline.
There were pretty black and white birds flying through the trees when were in this spot. Earny told me they're called "gachi" (rhymes with "bocce," as in bocce ball) - and they're supposed to be good luck.
A couple of days after my tour with Taesun and Earny, the morning KGDC sessions held less attraction for me than did more sightseeing. I'd seen on the map that there was another palace not far from Gyeonbokgung, so I got on the subway and went. This place is called Changdeokgung.
I had just snapped this shot of the guards, when some guy came up to me and kind of frantically waved me off the path.
I'd gotten there just in time to see the changing of the guard.
From Changdeokgung, I walked towards another nearby historical site. Along the way, I found this pleasant little park right near the Samsung building. Those guys are undoubtedly Samsung employees on a smoking break. It was much warmer this day than it had been on the day I'd gone touring with Taesun and Earny.
This is the front gate of Changgyeonggung. Closed on Tuesdays.
Crossing a very busy intersection near Changgyeonggung, I found this curious Egyptian-themed decoration.
I walked from Changgyeonggung to Insadong, a terrific little shopping street. The entrance to the street is adorned by these statues.
Another sight I visited was the Kimchi Field Museum, located in Coex (the shopping mall / convention center where I'd attended Kamex and first met Earny).
I went to see a movie, Kill Bill, at Coex's Megabox Cineplex. The film was mostly in English, with Korean subtitles. There were no English subtitles, so I had to fend for myself when the actors spoke Japanese or French (luckily, my two best languages other than English). At the Megabox I was struck by this poster for a musical.
This very pretty screen was in the hall where we had the closing ceremonies for KGDC (you know - the reason I was in Korea in the first place).

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Special thanks to Taesun Yeom and John Song, without whom the Korea trip never would have happened!

Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.