Korea Day 3 Part 2: Kyobo Bookstore and Gwanghwamun

After the little stroll around and near Ehwa Women’s University, I took the metro to gyungbukgong station, hoping to visit the palace and maybe the bukchon alley that is one of the most famous tourist spots around that area.

As I walked out of the exit, I saw an entrance to a bookstore. Being someone who has a penchant for books, even without knowing which bookstore it was since it was an impromptu itinerary for that day, I went ahead and walked into it. As I approached the entrance, the place started to look strangely familiar. And as I stepped inside, I instantly recognised the place! It is the bookstore that appeared many times in several variety shows! I most remember it from The Human Condition, the episodes on reading books. Being able to read some Korean, it took me no time to become so immersed in the books until an hour and half has passed.

These are the books I bought: (from the right)

1. 멈추면, 비로소 보이는 것들 ( Things that you finally see when you stop)

2. 1cm+

3. 오늘, 또 사랑을 미뤘다 (Today, Love was Postponed Again)

4. 인생의 수업 (Life’s Lesson)

5. 엄마를 부탁해 ( Please Take Care of Mom) [This one was bought a long time ago through an online shop.]

2014-05-05 16.01.23As of now, I have only read about two thirds of the first book on the list. oops. Shall start reading them again maybe during my Korea exchange trip in Pohang University.

20131221-DSC_0169Up the stairs of one of the exits (the one with the stairs right outside the glass door) was this set of stones with a quote carved onto them, saying:

사람은 책을 만들고

Saram-eun chaeg-eul mandeul-go

Men make (write) books and

책은 사람을 만든다

chaeg-eun saram-eul mandeunda

Books make a man.

I have seen this quote from some Koreans’ instagram before, but seeing it firsthand was a different feel. More beautiful. More magnificent. More resonant.

A short walk away was gwanghwamun square, which on the day I was there, had a small scale exhibition on the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. All the flags of the countries which took part in the war were there standing proud in the wind. 20131221-DSC_0182I always have a soft spot for such topics on War and such, and so while reading one of the passages on one of those boards about soldiers from the different countries coming together to defend the South, I got so touched I think I teared a little. Maybe not. Can’t remember 😛

About a hundred or two metres up ahead, you will see the entrance of the Palace. I think I got lucky and walked right into a guards changing ceremony.

20131221-DSC_0194After the ceremony, I didn’t stay and walk the palace. It was so crowded then, I suppose I will have another chance for it another day, perhaps with some friends, but the streets and alleys beside the Palace could not. And it was at these little streets and alleys that I first experienced a short but heart-warming interaction with a local.

2013-12-21 15.46.57The picture didn’t come out well, but in the background, there is supposed to be a mountain called Inwang-San. Initially I wasn’t sure about it, but was curious since it was in my rough-planned itinerary for another day, so I went ahead to ask a lady (ahjumma) if that mountain was inwang-san. She seemed so surprised a foreigner would ask about that mountain, or perhaps because I could speak Korean, and gave a very sincere looking smile after replying me that that is indeed Inwang-San.

20131221-DSC_0211Another shop I passed by in one of the streets which, I think, sold old books and art pieces created from them. Quite pretty stuff inside. I only realised this place is quite popular with Koreans, through Instagram hash tag function, after I came back to Singapore.

20131221-DSC_0218While circling around the Palace, I passed by the Blue House, which looks kind of impressive with bukhansan towering behind it. I must scale bukhansan one day, maybe during or before my Korea exchange semester.

And… Samcheongdong after about an hour of walking. I’m not too sure, but it seems I walked into the less touristy parts of samcheongdong. I don’t remember seeing a lot of foreigners where I was walking.20131221-DSC_0241


While I walked…DSC_0235 DSC_0238 DSC_0244 DSC_02512013-12-21 16.45.38 And walked… I walked into a small path that seemingly leads up to a mountain if I continued on, according to google maps.2013-12-21 16.47.45I made an about turn, before passing by a group of elderlies(?), doing sports during winter!

I then continued trying to find the famous bukchon street. But couldn’t find it. During sunset, I was half lost, knowing I was in Samcheongdong, but not too sure which part of it.

DSC_0256First of the many sunsets I saw in Korea, this one at Samcheongdong, somewhere. Made my way back to Gwanghwamun to walk to the nearby cheonggyecheon, Cheonggye-Stream.20131221-DSC_0287Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to spend much time there due to a demonstration to rally against Privatisation of the Rail Companies in Korea. There were so many policemen all over it was actually quite daunting.2013-12-21 18.36.31

Stop Min Young Hwa

Stop Min Young Hwa

This card says “Stop 민영화 (Min-young-hwa)”, so I initially thought they were trying to stop someone whose name is Min Young Hwa. Turns out it actually means privatisation.2013-12-21 19.23.39

After staying and watching a little of the demonstration, (might as well soak a little of the atmosphere since I’m already there, and such things do not happen in Singapore) I made my way to the nearby Myeongdong again, to the Lotte Cinema to maybe catch either “The Attorney, 변호인” or “The Way Home, 집으로 가는 길”. In the end I decided against it, since the timings were too late and I had to wait, and I probably would not understand much of the movie since they were both law related.DSC_0324

Finally, back to the familiar Hongdae Children’s Park which my hostel was nearby to. The next day would be the journey to Gwangju, a city I wanted to visit very much because of its history and the surrounding smaller towns, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.


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