Autumn and Winter in South Korea

Autumn and Winter in South Korea. Written by Sophia Balod for SubSelfie.com.

It’s true what they say: We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. It was the end of the November and autumn leaves had just started to fall. The ground was covered with the color of decay, the soil moist from the occasional rain, the air heavy with scent of petrichor. I breathed in my first autumn and I sighed: There was poem in my mind I couldn’t seem to form. Or was I lost in translation?

Nature is more eloquent and here’s how she defined “transition.”

I have walked and wandered with only crumbs to guide the path. In the end I found my way home, only to realize nothing would make me happier than to get lost again.
I have walked and wandered with only crumbs to guide the path. In the end I found my way home, only to realize nothing would make me happier than to get lost again.
No. 14 Bukchon Hanok Village
No. 14 Bukchon Hanok Village
seoul-south-korea-sophia-balod-subselfie-winter
The colors of Seoul.

seoul-south-korea-sophia-balod-subselfie-131

Multi-colored.
Multi-colored.
By the maple tree.
By the maple tree.

One day the ground was filled with fallen leaves and twigs, the next day with droplets of freezing rain, and the day after that, some snow flurries. The weather was painfully indecisive that time.

Just like how I was.

But confusion somehow helped my case. I managed my expectations. I learned to be prepared. I brought my umbrella along with an extra pair of winter gloves and jacket. Just in case. And in learning to weather unpredictability, I have experienced some of the most fascinating things in Seoul. The night held a certain charm, the leafless branches casting their long pointy shadows on the ground. One of the best vantage points of South Korea’s nightscape is the N Seoul Tower.

The N Seoul tower, originally built to transmit radio and television signals, houses a revolving restaurant, a viewing deck and thousands of padlocks from cheesy lovers all over the world.
The N Seoul tower, originally built to transmit radio and television signals, houses a revolving restaurant, a viewing deck and thousands of padlocks from cheesy lovers all over the world.
The cheesy padlocks
The cheesy padlocks
Lovelocked.
Lovelocked.
Downtown panorama of Seoul.
Downtown panorama of Seoul.

The Myeongdong night market, of course, was brimming with life. Everywhere I look was a new sight, and my eyes couldn’t seem to keep up with all the excitement.

The Myeongdong night market
The Myeongdong night market
Where the lights lead me.
Where the lights lead me.
Nocturnal treats.
Nocturnal treats.
Hawkers.
Hawkers.
Street sketching.
Street sketching.

The morning stroll was not so bad too. The streets were filled with quaint coffee shops like the Hello Kitty Cafe. It cost me a few thousand Korean wons but I didn’t mind.

Pinkfest
Pinkfest
Hello Kitty's thought bubble
Hello Kitty’s thought bubble
Kitty Latte
Kitty Latte.

There is even a Teddy Bear Museum.

Cuddly bears.
Cuddly bears.
Did you know the Teddy Bear got its name from US President Theodore Roosevelt?
Did you know the Teddy Bear got its name from US President Theodore Roosevelt?

I roamed the streets of Seoul like the usual avid tourist, keen to take photos and experience new adventures. But despite all the distractions, one story caught my attention: the story of how North and South Korea separated.

This is the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ, a military demarcation between two divided countries sharing a common language, history and ethnicity. The two countries have flagpoles built in their respective zones.

Over the years, North and South Korea have been building against each other, raising the height of the poles a few meters above the other. The final score: 160-100 meters in favor of the North.

The border of nowhere
The border of nowhere
Tight security.
Tight security.
Across the 38th parallel
Across the 38th parallel
Riddled with bullets
Riddled with bullets

On the first of December, the clouds granted my wish and poured snow. It was my first time to see snow and I ran outside like a little girl without putting my stockings on. My fingernails were turning a pale shade of violet from the cold; good thing it didn’t show.

Being the typical tropical islander stuck in a cold country, my favorite part of the trip was skiing on ice. I tripped and fell a few times, got a few bruises here and there, but it was all worth it.

Snow selfie
Snow selfie
Ski resort.
Ski resort.
Elegance.
Elegance.
Cold merienda.
Cold merienda.
Out in the winter sun.
Out in the winter sun.
Starting out young.
Starting out young.
It's quite expensive but very worth it.
It’s quite expensive but very worth it.

Goodbye, Seoul. You’ve been good to me.

So long, Seoul.
So long, Seoul.

[Entry 63, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Hon Sophia Balod

Hon Sophia Balod is a storyteller. She is currently a News Producer of special reports and features for Balitanghali, Saksi, and State of the Nation with Jessica Soho. She is also a media fellow of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism for Basic and Advanced Investigative Reporting. Journalism 2010, UP Diliman. Read more of her articles here.

Advertisements

4 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s