Welcome To Seoul!
One of the most beautiful sights is Seoul, South Korea at night…
I had the chance to travel to Seoul with an amazing team of people: Morgan Webb, Vinny Rutherford, Wade Beckett, Jen Nelson, Mike Dunn and Aaron Murray – and our terrific Seoul Producer Kathy Paik – the greatest group to work with, travel with, and even do a bit of this!
And it wasn’t all “giant” beer drinking, although Wade did enjoy his giant mug – well, we ALL did – but Wade seemed to eye it just a bit more than the rest of us…
That last shot may accurately reflect how we were all feeling by the end of the night. Seoul is unique: it has underground tunnels – we were actually in one of the many restaurants that live UNDERNEATH the city streets…so you can avoid the cold weather above you while still enjoying a nice refreshing beverage!
Soju To You, Too!
And yes, we drank our fair share of “Soju” as well – a distilled beverage native to Korea. Its taste is comparable to vodka, though often slightly sweeter due to sugars added in the manufacturing process, and is traditionally made of rice.
Most brands of Soju are made in South Korea. Right, Mike Dunn? We see you peering through the bottle…
Always Eat Local!
Whenever we traveled, we ALWAYS ate the local food – and in this case, that meant a lot of korean BBQ:
Mike and Aaron were skeptical – they LOOKED at more of the plates than they actually ATE. But that’s OK, I don’t eat any of the hot stuff, and there was plenty of that as well…
Seoul BBQ was everywhere, so we ate A LOT of it…and the guys were a bit reluctant to even TRY most of the stuff on the table:
The rest of the group had no problem digging in – and that was due, in large part, to the overwhelmingly friendly reception we received in Seoul – this is an amazingly friendly country, even though you’d be hard pressed to find anyone speaking english…but it didn’t matter when the food was this good…
Who Wants Some Bibimbop!
No, this isn’t the name of an early Hanson CD – Bibimbap is a signature Korean dish. The word literally means “mixed rice”. Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating.
We grilled our own meat, added one of dozens of side dishes like kimchi, and ate our way through the city…which is hard to do considering the size of the place!
Seoul is the capital and largest city in South Korea, with a population of more than 10 million. Seoul Capital Area, which includes the surrounding Incheon metropolis and Gyeonggi province, is the world’s second largest metropolitan area with over 25.6 million people.
Here is a shot of Wade, getting some b-roll of this teeming city:
We wanted to capture everyday life in South Korea, and that meant one thing:
SEOUL STREET FOOD!
Yes, bacon has shown its face halfway around the world! These are bacon-wrapped hot dogs, one of many street treats we sampled in Seoul!
As you can see, the street food was plentiful…in fact, here we are holding two of those bacon-wrapped hot dogs…not the best shot of me, but I will suffer that indignity in order to showcase the food!
Wade and I dug right into these breaded, grilled sticks of what we thought were chicken – we will never know, but they sure tasted good! And remember, you can also just order the corn dog embedded with fries:
The street food in Seoul was unique – in fact, as unique as the city streets themselves…it put us all in a good mood, especially Kathy as she “posed” with Vinny:
As you can see, the streets are packed with people…and you can find yourself on any small side street filled with tiny shops and stalls:
Here’s Jen Nelson along with Morgan Webb, checking out the shopping…Jen might be the only thing in focus, but it’s still a cool shot…
Tie Your Fish Up!
We also found a great Seoul street market – a fascinating place to wander…where locals shop for all sorts of unique items, like fish that has been tied up with rope, or dried and flattened in a fan shape…
The Noryangjin Fish Market!
I loved this place – a huge, bustling fish market where they sold a number of unique items, like piles of dried fish, plus tied up fresh fish as well – nicely bundled in bright yellow rope to carry home easily!
We also did some serious stories while we were in South Korea, like the day Morgan and a small team went to the DMZ!
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea which runs along the 38th parallel north. It was created as part of the Korean Armistice Agreement between North Korea, the People’s Republic of China, and the United Nations Command forces in 1953.
The Bridge To Nowhere!
Located in the Joint Security Area (JSA), the so-called “Bridge of No Return” was used for prisoner exchanges at the end of the Korean War in 1953. The name originates from the claim that many war prisoners captured by the United States did not wish to return home. The prisoners were brought to the bridge and given the choice to remain in the country of their captivity or cross over to the other country. However, if they chose to cross the bridge, they would never be allowed to return.
Here is a shot of Morgan Webb on the “bridge of no return.” The North Korean soldier watched her closely as she filmed her segment…
One Way Ticket To Yangyang!
The team also toured the legendary Yangyang International Airport in northeastern South Korea. It was built to serve the nearby areas of Sokcho, Gangneung and Pyeongchang. But since 2008, the airport has had no scheduled flights due to the diplomatic standoff between the two countries!
Here are Mike and Aaron at the infamous deserted airport….
Just A Song Before You Go…
Of course, we had to end the trip with the national sport: karaoke! I will spare my co-workers too much indignity, but here are Wade and I doing a duet to – and therefore sincere apologies to The Beatles – as we butchered “A Day In The Life”.
As you can see above, there are the lyrics for the song…and here is Aaron belting out what must be, according to the lyrics on the screen behind him, a TERRIFIC version of “Sweet Caroline.”
Morgan, Vinny and Wade sang some sort of song together – can’t remember which one, and I’m not sure they would admit to it anyway…
And Vinny either performed a duet with Mike, or just likes having his picture taken near a microphone – either one is extremely plausible…
As I said, we were filming until late that night, and it seems the only person who wasn’t captured “at the mic” is Jen Nelson…you were lucky, Jen!
What A Trip!
There was so much more to this trip, but this was just a taste of the unique aspects of South Korea – a great country filled with nice people, great food, energetic city life, and lots of karaoke…and some very mysterious crackers…
Every night, Wade would wake up in his hotel room to find it littered with broken crackers…a mystery that hasn’t been solved as far as I know…but there were certainly a few choice suspects…
We also got to watch the Super Bowl that year at 8a in our hotel restaurant – live in south korean at that early hour… just another unique aspect of this unique country, and so much fun to explore…as you can see, Wade was exhausted by the end of the trip:
Finally, I always loved this picture of Wade and Morgan…every time I see it, I think they look like the latest alt-pop duo – and this is their CD cover: thanks to the whole gang for letting me share this adventure!
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