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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

This First Real Snow Storm in Seoul!

Last night it was really cold. It dropped down to -8 C (17.6 F) at 1:00 am causing about an inch of snow to fall in my estimated opinion. I tried to research how much snow fell last night to no avail. However, it was cold enough at 6:30am that it had already turned to ice on the streets. On a very hilly area around my home near Nakseongdae Station, I fell on my caboose and dropped my phone. Luckily my caboose and phone didn't suffer any major harm. But you can't argue that the snow creates great pictures!

Here is a playground just below my home. You can see how much white stuff there is. Now it's 9:33 and it's -5 C (23F). The ice might stick for awhile today. As much as I think the snow is beautiful, I really can't stand ice, especially in my neighborhood. But I'll look on the bright side. I'll be in L.A. in February with my wife for two weeks! I'll take her to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. What a blessing that will be! I'm definitely looking forward to escaping the winter in Seoul for awhile!

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Monday, December 19, 2016

Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, South Korea

One of my favorite places in South Korea is Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon. It was built in the latter part of the Joseon Dynasty, which was between 1392 and 1910. According to the website Visit Korea travel page it was built as a display of the king's filial piety toward his father Jangheonseja and to build a new pioneer city with its own economic power.

There are four gates known as Jangganmun (north), Paldalmun (south), Changnyongmun (east), and Hwaseomun (west). Seven-arch style sumuns straddle straddle the point where it reaches a stream nearby. Above the Sumun gates is a pavilion called Hwahongmun.

Hwaseong Fortress was constructed under the guidance of Yu Hyeong Won (1622-1673) and Jeong Yak Yong (1762-1836) and was built using Seokjae and Jeondol bricks. The holes were just big enough to fire guns, arrows, or spears in case of an attack.

During the battle of June 25th many parts of the fortress got seriously damaged and although much of the fortress was repaired during the reparation (1975-1979), the areas between Paldalmun to Dongnamgakru (an area 491 meters in length) have not been restored.

My favorite section was at the top walking through this passageway. You can see how strong the doorway is and how old it is:

The walls were on both sides with flags on each side. I felt like marching like a king!

A variety of performances happen here daily and you can enjoy the Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival in autumn. You can see a picture from the top of the fortress and the celebrations below:

A bunch of students are preparing for Samulnori performances in the picture below:

And since it's right next to Hwaseong Fortress, you can also visit Hwaseong Haenggung Palace for a small charge (W1,500 for adults). It was a temporary palace for King Jeongjo (1776-1800) to retreat to during a war. Not only was it a place for him to retreat to, but it was also a place for him to worship his father's tomb.

There are various ways to get there. Here's a link that will help you get to where you need. Enjoy your trip to Suwon!

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gwangjang Traditional Market in Seoul, South Korea

Gwangjang Market is the oldest traditional market in Seoul (established in 1905). During this time, Korea was under Japanese rule and took over Namdaemun Market. Koreans wanted to create a market that wasn't under Japanese rule, so wealthy merchants got together and bought the land for W100,000. It was formally the Bae O Gae Market and they originally named it the Dongdaemun Market. It was later renamed Gwangjang Market in 1960. It became the first permanent market to be open every day of the week.

On the first floor, you have many stalls that sell various kinds of Korean food.

The most common food here is bindaetteok which is a Korean pancake made from mung beans, vegetables, and meat. You can see the people making them here in the picture below. Don't the pictures make you want to try some of this food?

You can even get various soups. It looks as if the older man in the picture above is eating red bean soup. In all honesty red bean isn't my favorite, but some of my non-Korean friends enjoy it.

You can be really adventurous and try raw beef , yukhoe (pronounced yook-hwae-육회), or you can get the normal dishes from a couple of friendly ladies serving kimbap (김밥), mandu (meat or kimchi dumplings-만두), ddeokbogi (rice cake with spicy red pepper paste) sundae (blood sausage) odeng (오뎅). 

This will give you an idea of the variety of fresh vegetables that are used. And many of these dishes are very cheap, yet very delicious.

The picture below shows you how big this place is. Many foreign visitors flock here even on weekdays. But it's definitely packed on weekends because it's so popular.

On the second floor, you can find all of your silk, satin, and linen bed sheets. In total the shop has 5,000 venders and an average of 20,000 visitors on a busy Saturday or Sunday. You can get your own custom made Korean hanbok if you're planning to get married! They're not cheap, but they're beautiful. Korean couples can also buy "yedan" here, which are gives from the bride to the groom's family.

Gwangjang Market can be reached on Line 1 at Jongno-5-Ga Station. You can take Exit 7, walk for about a minute and turn right. Or you can take Exit 8, walk two minutes and turn left. It's open from 9:00am-6:00pm, and a few shops are open until 7:00pm.

Also, if you have time, you can visit Cheongyecheon which is just outside the south entrance. It's not the best part of the stream that flows through the city, since I think the area near Gwanghwamun is a bit nicer. However, you can walk there if you like. It would take you from 30-45 minutes!

Scott Worden (L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sermon: "Arm Yourselves" by Edward Chun (December 4, 2016)

1 Peter 4:1-6

When was the last time you suffered for being a Christian? How many of you have driven in Seoul? What happens when someone cuts you off? How do you react? Do you let your flesh take over? Maybe you have an annoying co-worker and you have the temptation to gossip about him/her. We all suffer in some way. However, instead of trying to avoid suffering, we need to arm ourselves. In this verse Peter says "since therefore" which points back to 1 Peter 3:17-18. Arm yourselves with a better mindset. You don't have to look for suffering to tackle it. You're a Christian and it will happen automatically. It's the same concept as "putting on your armor" in Ephesians 6. We need to arm ourselves spiritually. Christ suffered in the flesh, so we need to also arm ourselves with a spiritual mindset. Why can't we just pray for the suffering to disappear? In Matthew 16:16-19, you can assume Peter must be happy to hear these words. However, just a few verses later, Jesus said he was going to die but Peter said that there was no way that was going to happen and he would help make sure that it wouldn't. Jesus said, "Get behind me Satan..."showing that Peter's words were not a part of God's will. Peter had the mindset of man but Jesus armed himself with the mindset of God. He knew he was going to suffer and die, but this wasn't the end of the message or else it would be a sad and meaningless ending. Jesus loved his Father and completely trusted in Him. Jesus knew he would rise again, conquer death, and die for his people. In Luke 24:25-26, we see that Jesus knew his suffering would lead to exaltation and victory. If you're suffering now, your Father will still exalt you. It might not be on this earth, but it will definitely happen in Heaven if you love Jesus. Do you have the mindset, "My will be done", "I need more money to be comfortable", "Don't get into my personal space on the subway", "Don't bump me or I'll bump you back", etc.? What does it mean to cease to sin when suffering? You will suffer the consequences of following God instead of giving into your flesh. You no longer fall into human passions for the will of God. You grow in obedience. There's a direct correlation between obedience and suffering (Hebrews 5:8). All of the sins you used to commit before you were a Christian were enough. Today you can stop your constant habits because God is merciful. Repent and ask for forgiveness. Put it to death and arm yourselves. Maybe some of you lost friends or are being teased because you turned away from partying and drinking and are doing the right thing now. Verse 5-However, everyone will give an account to what they have done. ALL will be responsible (living or dead) for their actions (all the things you have or haven't done). Remember Romans 12:19. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. Perfect justice will happen on Judgment Day. Verse 6- We're all going to die in the flesh but it will all depend on if we received Christ as our Savior. Why was Jesus willing to suffer? Yes, he loved God and yes, he wanted to obey the Father. But he also loved us and wanted to bring us all together with Him in Heaven. Arm yourselves with the mindset of Christ. He loved his sheep. His will. His way. Always.

Scott Worden (L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Deoksugung (Deoksu Palace) in Seoul, South Korea

If you want to see the modern and traditional aspects of Seoul collide, you should head on over to Deoksu Palace (Deoksugung). It is located near City Hall Station, Exit 2. I happened to go on a special day. Instead of me paying W3,000 to enter, I got in free and I was able to see a royal guard procession. I picked the right day!

Some people think to themselves, "If you've seen one palace, you've seen them all. Therefore here's a little background information that will make your trip there more special. I got this information from the brochure they give out to tourists:

"Deoksugung served as the king's residence twice during the Joseon Dynasty. The site was originally the home of Prince Wolsan and his descendants. King Seonjo ( resided between 1567-1608)  lived here temporarily after returning to the capital (when Seoul was called Hanyang) following the withdrawal of Japanese forces in 1593. King Seonjo resided here because all the main palace compounds had been destroyed during the war. His successor, Prince Gwanghae (resided between 1608-1623) renamed it Gyeongunggung Palace after making the newly rebuilt Changdeokgung Palace his main residence.

Gyeongungung Palace was used as a royal residence again in the late Joseon Dynasty when Gojong (resided between 1863-1907) moved it to its current location in 1897. The Joseon Dynasty state was proclaimed as an "empire" and the ruler began offering rituals at the Hwanggudan Altar (where Chosun Hotel now stands). The palace halls were rebuilt and the compound was expanded to some three times its present size.

However, Gojong was forced to hand the throne over to his son who became Emperor Sunjong in 1907. Emperor Sunjong moved into Changdeokgung Palace and bestowed the title of Deoksu (virtue and long life) on his father, wishing him a long life. The compound became known as Deoksugung Palace and the former emperor remained here until his death in 1919. The palace compound at that time was three times larger than it is today, encompassing the whole area around the present day city hall, Seoul Plaza, and Jeong-dong area."

As you walk in, here's the view to your right. You'll see the architecture of the wall that has Deokhongjeon Hall and Hamnyeong Hall behind it. It's in great contrast the modern buildings in the background. You can see it here:

To the left you'll notice the famous stone wall of Deoksugung, which many people take pictures of. Most people take pictures of it from the outside, but I was lucky to get some fall leaves together with the wall for a beautiful combination from the inside:

As you keep walking straight, you'll see Jeukjodang Hall on your right. This along with Seogeodang Hall (behind it), were used as council halls after Jeonghwajeon Hall was completed. Their history dates back to King Seonjo. You can see Jeukjodang Hall in this picture:

Here's a closer look of it here:

As we move on to the next picture, Seokjojeon Hall is a Western-style stone building that was completed in 1910, which consists of three floors. The kitchen and storage on the ground were used by servants. The first floor was the official workplace and holds an audience chamber and a dining room. The second floor of the building was intended to be the private living quarters of the royal family such as bedrooms for the emperor and empress. There have been several changes in the use of Seokjojeon Hall since it was constructed. It was opened as the Daehan Empire History Museum in 2014 following restoration that started in 2009.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go inside because you need to make a reservation ahead of time. You can call or do it online. Here's a picture of it:

The next picture is Seogeodang Hall, which was mentioned briefly earlier. It's the only extant two-storied building at Deoksugung Palace. It burned down in 1904, and was rebuilt the same year. Unlike other buildings, it was two wooden plaques and the one on the first floor was hand written by Emperor Gojong. Next to it is Jeukjodang Hall.

Seogeodang Hall (right) and Jeukjodang Hall (left)

Next is the gate that leads to Hamnyeongjeon Hall (which served as Gojong's residence and office) and Deokhongjeon Hall (a replacement for Gyeonghojeon Hall that was burned down in 1904 where the spirit tablet of the deceased empress was enshrined.

          You can really see the difference between the old Seoul and the new Seoul in this picture:

Deokhongjeon Hall (right) and Hamyeongjeon Hall (left)
You can get a great view of N Seoul Tower (formally Namsan Tower) if you look between Junghwajeon Hall and Seogeodang Hall:

Finally, feel free to check out the Deoksugung Art Museum. It always houses exhibits and you'll have to check which one is being held before you make your trip over to the palace. I happened to see modern art by Yoo, Youngkuk. I'm not a big fan of modern art, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Enjoy your trip to Deoksugung!

Scott Worden (LA/Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Major Was Political Science and I'm Glad I Got Out of It

The 2016 US presidential election campaign was a circus. We heard Donald Trump criticize Ben Carson in September 2015 by saying, "I'll make great deals for this country. Ben can't do that. Ben's a doctor, not a deal maker....Frankly, Ben Carson is a very, very nice man but this will not be a good situation because of the fact that he's not a dealer, he's not a negotiator, and the president has to be." He criticized him a lot. There's a whole article of Trump jabbing Carson from the New York Times. You can see it here.

Yet, despite all of that. Trump picked Ben Carson for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ironically Carson turned down the job because he felt that he didn't have governmental experience. Apparently running for president (the most powerful position in the world) was good enough, however. Things that make you go hmm.

Donald Trump was also vicious towards Ted Cruz to to the point where Trump had a nickname for Cruz: "Lyin' Ted". Then apparently Ted Cruz used Donald Trump's wife's picture in his ad, which caused Trump to tweet on Twitter: "Lyin' Ted just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful Lyin' Ted or I'll spill the beans on your wife." Cruz responded back by calling Trump a sniveling coward and to leave Heidi (his wife) alone. You can't make this stuff up. You can see a few more jabs here.

Cruz then endorses Trump but refuses to say he's fit to be president in September. There's even a photo of him not looking too happy as he's making phone calls to campaign for Trump. Now as Trump is not the president-elect, Cruz praises Trump's cabinet. In fact he claims it as a team of all stars coming together.

Mitt Romney had some character and made some valid points that Trump should not be the president of the United States and got visibly upset with the GOP to the point of tears for not criticizing Trump. Now he's backtracking with a silly apology which you can see here.

Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, was a frequent and vocal critic of Trump since she supported Marco Rubio in the election campaign. She criticized Trump without mentioning his name during the Republican's response to President Obama's final State of the Union address: "During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices."  Trump responded that she was "weak" on immigration.  A month later, Haley commented that Trump was "everything a governor doesn't want in a president". Apparently being chosen as the ambassador to the United Nations changes all of those things.

But it's not just the Republicans. There was also a change of heart by Senator Bernie Sanders.

We heard Bernie Sanders say that Hillary Clinton wasn't qualified to be the president of the U.S. in April while Hillary said that she wasn't even sure if Bernie was a Democrat. President Obama  also criticized Hillary in the 2008 election that helped Trump use it as ammunition. Trump said that he rarely agreed with Obama but agreed with Obama's 2008 negative ad about Hillary Clinton. Trump used to call the Clintons' close friends, then he wanted to "lock Hillary up", and now that he is the president-elect, he felt that the Clintons have been through enough already and will leave them alone.

In South Korea, where I currently live, there have been five massive protests demanding Park Geun Hye to resign including 2,000,000 people across the country last Saturday. Her strange relationship with Choi, Soon Shil (the daughter of a cult leader whose father was friend's with Park Chung Hee) was constantly telling her every move to make and writing her speeches. She had no experience in politics, yet had secret meetings of six people with in Nonhyun (Gangnam area of Seoul) to help dictate what President Park should do. On top of that Choi's daughter got a made up scholarship created by the president of Ehwa in to pave her way to admission to the university. You can read more of the Choi Soon-sil scandal here. There are more angles to this drama but this is enough for any president in any country to get impeached and kicked out of office.

This is politics, folks. And I'm glad that I never decided to get a career in it despite having a bachelor's degree with an emphasis in Public Administration. Politics is all about back biting, taking back scathing words you said about your opponents, and then becoming their bed fellows.

Teaching English may not be the highest paying job or the most prestigious, but it's a lot better than selling your soul to the devil.

Scott Worden (L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Friday, November 18, 2016

Day Trip to Ganghwa Island (Ganghwado), South Korea

My wife asked me if I wanted to join my wife's family for a day trip to Ganghwado, South Korea. I thought it would be fun since I enjoy taking pictures and it would be a great time to get even closer to my wife's family, so I agreed.

My brother-in-law (my wife's sister's husband) drove us. It took about an hour and 15 minutes and the first place we stopped at was a raw fish restaurant. We got there at 11:15am and there weren't that many people when we got inside the restaurant. However when it reached noon, the place was completely full. We realized that that place was very popular and we soon found out that the food was excellent. Here's what we ate:

But that was just the beginning. We also had another huge plate of just raw fish and also fish stew. The fish was very fresh and quite delicious. Here's a picture of my wife's mother, her sister, and her brother-in-law as we were about to eat:

Our next stop was to get some coffee. We drove to Rodem Tree Coffee, which was a cafe that was about a five-minute drive from the seafood restaurant. We got some spectacular views of the Yellow Sea (West Sea) while we were there. Here's the back of the cafe. Notice the sea is only about 50 feet away.

Here's another look with a swinging seat for two!

And of course my wife and I had to take advantage of that!

The coffee was good. However, it was a bit expensive. How about W6,000 for a cup of hot cafe latte? Was it worth it? Absolutely. The scenery made it more than worth the price.

Here's another look from the side of the cafe. Notice how well it's landscaped. You can see the yard, sea, and mountains in this picture.

Here's Rodem Tree Coffee from the side:

What made this cafe even cooler was that there was a fortress called Huae Dondae right next to the cafe. Apparently, it was a fort that monks and soldiers used to protect themselves from other kingdoms in ancient times in Korean history.

This picture will explain what it is in detail:

You can even go inside of it, go up the stairs, and get a great view of the sea.

And if that's not good enough, there's a trail that leads to a bridge, which leads to the sea. Here's a picture of my wife, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law as they look out at the sea:

This is a great place if you have a car. Unfortunately, you won't be able to get here using public transportation. Hopefully you can get a Korean friend that would like to get out of the city and you can ask s/he if they want to go for a day trip to escape the hustle and bustle of Seoul. It's totally worth it. In my next blog, I will show you our last stop: Manisan (the highest point on Ganghwado).

Scott Worden (L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tsingtao Beer Brewery and Museum: Qingdao, China

Two months ago, I went to Qingdao, China for vacation as you saw from a previous post. A few places that I enjoyed the most include: Qingdao Catholic Church, Zhongshan Park, and XiaoYushan Park. But one place stuck out in my mind the most and that was the Tsingtao Beer Brewery and Museum. It started as the German Beer Company (Qingdao Branch) in 1903 and was the predecessor to Tsingtao. This was the first brewery in China to use European technology.

The two-storey building is one of a few Gothic buildings constructed in the city. The four huge copper vessels are kept in the museum and were manufactured in Germany until they were taken out of commission in 1995. The first floor can easily accommodate 100 visitors. The place is huge!

In the museum you can see barley, brown malt, and hops on display. You can also see old posters of Tsingtao advertisements. There's a lot of history you can learn in this museum.

You can see the older version of the factory and how Tsingtao began its long journey to the modern technology used today. Here's just one picture of the old machinery that is no longer in use but kept as a piece of history.

The factory is amazing itself. You can see employees bottling, packaging, and putting the bottles of Tsingtao on conveyor belts. There are countless bottles as you see in the pictures below.

Outside of the beer brewery and museum, you can see statues of Tsingtao beer and beer glasses, which is pretty cool!

You can get one glass of free raw beer and one glass of tap beer at the end of the journey where a Tsingtao pub is. If you pay just a bit more, you can get a sausage to eat with your beer at the pub.

Basic Admission: From May to October it is 60 RMB and from November to April it's 50 RMB.

Scott Worden (L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy