Monday, November 21, 2011

Seoulful Weekend

I am impressed with aspects of Seoul, but after my weekend in Korea’s capital, I’m glad I chose to live in the countryside. Most of my time was spent in Itaewon, a neighborhood frequented by foreigners, adjacent to the army base, Yongsan Garrison.

My primary reason for going to Seoul was so I could attend the publication party for “Out of Place,” a literary journal in which I was published. The pre-launch party on Saturday night was at a bar called The Orange Tree. My friends accompanied me for a night of poetry and beer. I took my turn at the microphone to read from my short story “Speakeasy,” about a distracted girl who breaks down and confesses her secrets in a bluebook essay, which is supposed to be about the Palestine/Israel conflict.

Afterward, we went to a party with new writer friends at a place called Moon. I took part in a competition, pairing up with a handsome man I had just met. The object of the game was to roll a coconut from our bellies to our mouths without using our hands. I had to kneel down to tuck the coconut under my chin, which looks pretty scandalous in the pictures my friends took. :/

The actual publication party was on Sunday at a chic restaurant called Berlin. It was so nice having a glass of wine and eating non-Korean food for a change. Drinking good wine, beer, coffee, chai, Turkish tea and ayran are pleasures I will never take for granted. I like a variety of beverages and a variety of people, and this weekend I got both. I just wish I could live in the peaceful countryside and still be close to Seoul.

I indulged in buying used books at “What the Book” and at another compact bookstore in the same neighborhood.  I bought a Mongolian phrase book and a Turkish phrasebook to prepare me for upcoming adventures. At one of the many Turkish restaurants in Itaewon, I was so happy that my “Merhaba” directed at the server sparked a lengthy response in Turkish and then a surprised reaction when I told her I’m American and my Turkish language skills are minimal.

My only regret is that I did not go to a jazz club in Seoul. I’m happy to be back in Mokpo, even though I am deprived of variety here. I realized today when I got a thrill from watching 60 Minutes online that I am a bonafide fuddy duddy. But it’s nice to have a weekend of excitement every once in a while.

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