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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2-Year Anniversary at N-Seoul Tower's N Grill Restaurant

I took my fiancé here for our two-year anniversary as a couple. When you're all dressed up, the only option is to take the cable car up the mountain instead of walking up the stairsSince we just went last night (May 28), it made it a bit of a challenge since the weather was really nice and it was Saturday night. In short there were a lot of people. Fortunately we got there a bit early. Our reservation was at 9:00 and we arrived at about 7:10pm. We had to wait in a long line just to get to the ticket booth and another line to wait to get on the cable car. 

Once we got to the top, we went downstairs to find the entrance to go up to the tower. By then it was 8:35. One of the restaurants (which is on the 4th floor of the restaurant) has its own elevator leading up to the 4th floor. N Grill (which is on the 5th floor) does not have its own elevator to the 5th floor. You have to get in another line with people heading to the observation deck. It's extremely inefficient. We got in line at 8:45 and then we were told to wait until 9:00 to get back in line. At that point, I was losing my patience.

However, once we got to the restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised. We slowly rotated in a circle and saw many beautiful views of Seoul. 

We got a lot of appetizers which were excellent especially the bread and two kinds of soup. The steak was very good as well.

The service was excellent and the staff was accommodating. We also got a complimentary glass of sparkling wine since we ordered steak. Finally, the restaurant prepared a cake for our anniversary which had a tasty mango filling in the middle. 

The total cost was just over ₩300,000. Was I worth it? I loved the restaurant and my fiancé was happy. Would I do it again? Probably not. I'll try a romantic but less stressful option for my wedding anniversary.

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

Twitter: laseoulguy

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Narcissism is rampant in Seoul

I'm not going to deny that there are many Korean women that are attractive. I've been to many Asian countries and I can honestly say that Korean women are among the most beautiful physically when it comes to Asian women. However, no matter how beautiful on the outside you are, if you think you're a princess and can't stop taking pictures of yourself, that beauty goes out the window. There's nothing more ugly than a woman that loves to look in the mirror or take millions of pictures of herself.

Gangnam Style, the song and video by Psy is a satire that makes fun of the women that live in Gangnam who only date men that have nice cars and a lot of money. They're also very beautiful and they know it. The song was famous for its horse dance but the message behind the song was brilliant because it's an accurate representation of the Gangnam area.

Well, tonight was one of those Gangnam Style experiences. I was at DropTop (a Korean cafe franchise), which is not far from Shinnonhyun Station in the heart of Gangnam. I was by myself drinking an iced cafe latte while reading a book. Two girls in their early 20s then came an hour later and sat at the big, rectangular table with five seats on one side and five on the other. The table was also higher than the regular small square tables that have four chairs at each one. They sat next to each other and one friend decided to take pictures of herself. Then her friend joined in on the selfie party. They posed in many ways with the typical two-finger victory salute that Korean women always do. After about 11 pictures, I started counting. Then her friend had to use her phone and they took a lot more. I didn't say it loudly but they possibly could have heard me after I said a number after each click very subtly. When it got to 35, I finally decided that I couldn't take it any more and went home. 

Appearance is #1 here and Korean women are obsessed with beauty. They're all over Instagram taking selfies. How do I know this? All you have to do is hit the search function and you'll see a Korean girl and her selfie. Sure, American women do this too but it's especially common here. They won't stop taking selfies since they get a ton of followers and get tons of attention. You can put some of the blame on men for choosing appearance over substance. But I also blame Sex and the City and movies like "Eat Pray Love" that focus on the narcissistic views of life that Korean women admire.

South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world. As mentioned in the article, Gangnam has 500 aesthetic centers in the world and had 980,000 operations in 2014 (20 procedures per 1,000 people). The U.S. was second at 13 per 1,000 people. Korea is the only country in the world. Korea is still one of the few developed countries that requires photos on its resumes. There has been talk about a law to ban this, but the law hasn't been introduced yet. And to be honest, I'm not sure it will be. Common plastic surgeries on the body include: double-edged eyelids, bigger eyes in general, nose jobs, and thinner jawlines.

With all of the focus on cosmetics and plastic surgery, princesses are a dime a dozen in Seoul, especially in Gangnam. They are obsessed with Louie Vuitton or Prada bags. I'm glad that I going to be married to a woman that is not high maintenance. She is a cute Korean-Chinese girl but what I love about her is that she has an amazing personality who puts Jesus above material and superficial things. She understands the real value of life, not taking 35 pictures of yourself in a cafe. 

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

Friday, May 20, 2016

An Innocent Woman is Murdered in Gangnam

Two days ago a 23-year old woman was hanging out with her friends and boyfriend late at night in Gangnam. She wanted to use the restroom of the karaoke but when she was taking too long, her boyfriend went to check on her. Later, he found her stabbed to death.He as so shocked that he collapsed after seeing his deceased girlfriend.

A 34-year old man – who has been identified as a former theology student who dreamed of becoming a minister – impulsively committed murder against the 23-year old Korean female in the washroom of a karoke in Seoul, Gangnam. He was later arrested while working at a BBQ restaurant near Gangnam Station. He was using the exact same knife that he used to stab the innocent woman.

The 34-year old culprit, identified as Kim, stated that he had committed the murder because he “Often felt ignored and mistreated by woman and could not take it anymore,” this statement caused Koreans to believe the crime was a hate crime against women and drove them to fear for their safety.
The police later found out that Kim had schizophrenia and had been hospitalized many times.The police say that it was because Kim had a mental illness. However, Kim was out to get ANY woman and it didn't matter who it would be. He went to the bathroom and waited for whoever was to come into that restroom at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

“In a society where general gender discrimination is tolerated, there are cases where women suffer violence because they are women,” said Lee Na-young, a professor of sociology at Chung-Ang University.
“This incident is being regarded not as a specific episode of a mentally disturbed man attacking a specific woman, but as a symbolic example of what happens in a misogynistic society,” Lee said. “That’s why it’s touched off such a passionate response.”

Post-Its have been put up all over Gangnam Station Exit 10 in response to the devastating tragedy.

LASeoulGuy's Reaction:

Korea has two major problems. 

Problem #1: Mental illnesses are still stigmatized in Korean society. Although I have met a couple of students that are therapists, the vast majority of Koreans don't really take counseling seriously. First, it goes on their record. If an employer finds out that a candidate has had some kind of counseling, the employer might look down upon it and not hire the candidate. 

Personally, I remember being near Yeouido Station two years ago and seeing a mentally disturbed teenager look at a pretty girl as she walked past him. His father saw him smile at the girl, took him to the bench and punched him in the head three times. I was so angry that I went to stop him. A guy who was passing out fliers for cell phones saw me try to stop the older man. But his response made me angrier. He told me, "The boy isn't normal." I told him that I didn't care and that his father shouldn't put his hands on him. 

Problem #2: The fact remains that Korea is still a male-dominated society. Women are not respected when they drive. If a female driver is a bit slow, the male driver in another guy might say "You should be handling a pot in a kitchen, not a steering wheel."That's what one female student told me when another male driver was angry at her for not driving fast enough.This happened a couple of years ago.

It's also still okay for men to smoke where people see them but women have to smoke in the alleys or behind buildings. I don't like smoking itself, but women are treated differently if they smoke just because they're women.

The Korea Observer remarked that The WEF ranks South Korea 111 in the world out of 136 countries surveyed in the Global Gender Gap report. Korea’s ranking is next to United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – a country that granted women the right to vote in 2002.
The WEF’s report considers that in Korea maternity leave is unpaid, wage inequality is vast, males occupy most technical job fields, men dominate political positions, and 90 percent of legislators, senior officials and managers are men. Korea has a long way to go when it comes to treating women as equals to men.
Before we address those issues, let's mourn an innocent victim that had no reason to die. Pray for the boyfriend and victim's family. A lot of lives have been shattered by one individual. Hopefully, mental illnesses will be treated more seriously and women are treated with more respect and honor. In many ways, women can do a lot more than men. Everyday they are behind the eight-ball just for the simple fact that they are women.

For more on the Gangnam murder case, click here: Korean Women Respond to Murder Case

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

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pocheon Art Valley in Pocheon, South Korea

I wanted to explore a different area in April, so I decided to research some day trips out of Seoul. I had already been to Paju with my fiancé to see Hyeri Art Village. This time I wanted to explore a different city, so I decided to go to Pocheon. There are two places to visit according to some blogs that I read. You can go to Pocheon Art Valley or Herb Island. Herb Island was described as a garden filled with old amusement park rides that were dilapidated after not being used for a long time. One blogger said the only time you would enjoy it would be spring when the flowers were in bloom and it wouldn't feel so creepy. The fact that the place was described as creepy made me turn my attention to the Pocheon Art Valley. I saw some great pictures of a lake surrounded by carved rock quarries. With me being a lover of photography, I chose to go there.

To Get There: Go to Gangbyeon Station (Dongseoul Bus Terminal) and buy a ticket for Pocheon. The cost is ₩6,400. Once you arrive at the terminal, turn left and walk to Pocheon City Hall. Walk for about 5-8 minutes (pass one intersection) and it will be on the same side of the street as the bus terminal. Wait for the 87-1 bus and take that. It comes once per hour.

Once you get there, you can either walk up the VERY steep hill or you can take a tram to the top. You can either pay for a one-way trip up or a round trip ticket. I bought a round trip ticket after but I walked down the hill later since I wanted to take pictures as I was was descending down the hill. Here's a view of inside the tram. The window was tinted, hence the yellow shade of the picture.

Once I got to the top, you can see a planetarium for children in the distance. There are four interesting figures playing musical instruments. Since this place has a modern art, you can make your own guesses as to what these animals are.

Here's another look at some unique modern art as you approach the planetarium. At least this one is a bit cuter and makes a little more sense. ;)

I went inside the planetarium. There were about four rooms to access. It wasn't very big and it it will take you about 30-45 minutes to walk through it. Here's one view of it:

After I got out of there, I thought it was the end of the Pocheon Art Valley and then I realized that I had seen that beautiful lake in the pictures and wasn't sure where it was. Then I found out that I had to veer off to the left from the planetarium and lo and behold, I found it. It was definitely a sight for sore eyes to see. It was a trek to get to this place, but it was totally worth it.


Once you make your way around the lake, you'll see a cafe and a little igloo made up of plastic makgeoli bottles. Inside it was one makgeoli bottle. It was definitely weird and unique.

Your last stop will be an array of modern art on the top of the hill. Some of it was cool and some of it was your typical "interesting" modern art. My favorite one was this. It's a map of South Korea on stone with the DMZ line in the middle. You can see a small tree as you look through the art.

Finally, I walked down the steep hill, and then took a bus back to downtown Pocheon. There is a ticket office behind the island as you get off the bus. Look for :매표소 . 

You will pay another W6,400 to get back to Gangbyeon Station.

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