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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Gustav Klimpt Exhibtion in Seoul, South Korea

Gustav Klimpt, was an Austrian immigrant, born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary. He is the second of seven children. He was a talented artist, which seemed to run in the family since his father and two of his siblings exhibited artistic talent. Klimpt is best known for his paintings "The Kiss" and "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I." 

The exhibition "Klimpt Inside" is being held until the end of April (originally was supposed to end March 3) at the S-Factory in Seongsu-dong in Seoul, South Korea. Thankfully my friend Timothy Holm found out about it and asked if I wanted to join him. I couldn't turn him down.

The exhibition is divided into six sections: End of Century, Ver Sacrum, Women, Stoclet Frieze, Later Colors, and Kiss. It's W12,000 for adults, W10,000 for students, and W8,000 for children. You can read more of what you'll expect here. Note, that all of the work presented is done in media art, so you won't see any original paintings. However, you'll get many chances to take pictures of Klimpt's most famous artwork as long as you don't use a flash.

"Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I" is probably my favorite one. I love the detail of the woman's eyes and lips. It looks as if she's daydreaming about something: 

Klimt’s work is distinguished by the elegant gold or colored decoration as you can see from the painting above. 

Often you'll see a phallic shape that conceal the most erotic positions of the drawings upon which many of his paintings are based. An example of this is The Kiss (1907–1908), which has is on display all on its own at the S-Factory:

One of the most common themes Klimt utilized was that of the dominant woman, the femme fatale, which in all honesty, was not my favorite part of the exhibition. You can tell he had a fascination with women as his paintings suggest. He was very sexually active, had willing women to pose as his models including prostitutes. However, he kept his private life to himself.

Art historians note an eclectic range of influences contributing to Klimt’s distinct style, including Egyptian, Minoan, Classical Greek, and Byzantine inspirations. Klimt’s paintings have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual works of art.

Here are just a few samples of the paintings that I enjoyed the most besides "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I":

If you have any questions about the exhibition, feel free to post a comment. Enjoy!

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

Twitter: laseoulguy

Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Perspective of the Group (Herd) Mentality in South Korea

One thing that you will notice in Far East Asia is that individualism is a Western concept and that the Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese are the opposite. They do everything together and if you do things alone, you're considered "unique" to say it politely. This is known as the group or herd mentality. I'm going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of it.


1. When the World Cup opens, EVERYONE watches. Koreans come together, drink together, cheer together, and Seoul comes alive. The farther Korea advances, the better it gets. It's truly an amazing experience. I remember being out with co-workers during the 2010 World Cup watching Korea play Greece in their opening match. When Korea won 2-0, people got excited, went outside and chanted and cheered. I took video of how everyone in red was in jubilation.

2. If a politician such as Park Geun Hye does something wrong, the whole country comes together. Korea did something so successful that will be hard to matched by any other country. Week after week, hundreds of thousands of Koreans in Seoul protested peacefully in Gwanghwamun until the president was impeached and thrown out of office. And the amazing thing about it was that they weren't violent. They came together calmly and even made it into a party. They ate, danced, sang, and set the example of what a true demonstration should be like. Democracy smelled like a rose when Park Geun Hye was officially kicked out of office. Most news outlets were amazed and admired Korea except CNN, which turned its attention on the extremely small contingent of Park Geun Hye supporters. They were the few who couldn't accept Park Geun Hye being officially escorted out of the Blue House. The herd mentality worked to perfection and the rest of the world applauded South Korea. I was extremely proud that South Korea was my second home when I watched beautifully done democracy unfold. The United States can take a lesson from that.

3. Koreans are great at getting together. If I tell my students, "Hey let's all go out for chicken and beer on Friday!", I could easily get 10 students to join a few teachers. And if you're not careful, it could be an all-night affair. It might start innocently with eating chicken, then have some drinks, and then sing for three or four hours. And the amazing thing about it is that it could be on a Tuesday night. Koreans are always up for hanging out with their friends and sharing their life stories over beer and more likely soju.


1.The herd mentality in Korea is all about conformity. When I first came to Korea in 2003, you would never see a Korean woman with dyed hair. A few years ago, it became a trend for women to streak their hair. Now you'll see MANY women with streaks of brown in their hair. Koreans also conform to fashion. When skinny jeans became popular, many young people started wearing them. Business men usually wear black suits or if people work for the same company, they'll all look the same. From fashion we move on to make-up. Young women love to wear a lot of white make-up these days which looks terrible in my humble opinion. And now young men wearing make-up has become popular probably following Japanese culture. Conformity also affects the driving culture in Korea. Koreans usually drive white, black, or gray cars. If you look a little different, you're considered weird.

2. The herd mentality causes people to behave poorly on public transportation. I see a negative phenomena in the subway all the time. If people see that the train is coming soon, 10-20 Koreans might run down the wrong side of the stairs (the left side) to catch the train. This then causes people that got off the train from the other side of the platform to walk up the stairs on the left side. But then you see people coming down the stairs two minutes later that are actually walking down the correct way causing THREE different lines of people: one group of people going down the stairs the correct way on the right side, one group of people originally going up the stairs the wrong way on the left side that are being forced to walk in the middle, and the group of people walking down the stairs the wrong way on the left side. If people consistently followed each other the correct way, the herd mentality works to perfection here. However, if two people break the rule, then the herd mentality makes it a very chaotic situation.

3. The herd mentality causes Koreans to follow trends. When a new store opens up, you'll see Koreans wait in a long line that might wrap around the block. It could be the opening of a New Balance store in the middle of freezing weather, it could be the new Shake Shack burger restaurant that has been open for six months, or it could be the Kakao Store. Koreans love new things and when 10 people are curious, it turns into 50, which then turns into 100. If a Korean TV show promotes a place to travel to, guess what? You'll see many Koreans there within the next two weeks. If a few Koreans promote the next hot place to hang out in Seoul, one month later, that place will be crawling with Koreans on a Friday or Saturday night. Itaewon is the perfect example of this. In 2008, many of my students thought Itaewon was a dangerous area. Now if you go to Itaewon, most of the people you see on the streets are Korean. Yet Apgujeong Rodeo is no longer trendy and dead on a Saturday night even though it's a nice area, has many restaurants, and many shops for women to shop at. Seongsu Station has become a bit popular these days due to Instagram and TV. Outside of TV and social media, it wouldn't be popular at all. I went there and saw two streets that had a few restaurants and a few cafes. Other than that, it was still very industrialized and not that great of an area. Why is it a disadvantage that Koreans are trendy? The trend fade within the next two or three years once something new pops up and takes over.

This is just a short list that I notice on a daily basis. If you want to see one expat's perspective of the herd in Japan, check out this blog posting. You'll see what Japanese people are obsessed with:
Japan: The Herd Mentality.

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

West Rim of Grand Canyon National Park (February 2017)

After two nights in Las Vegas, the goal was to head to Hoover Dam, spend the night near the Grand Canyon, and then go exploring the Canyon the next day. We went to the Hoover Dam and made a stop there (I'll save that for another blog post). Then as we were driving, I realized that we could go to the West Rim and see the Skywalk or we could drive 3-4 more hours to the main entrance of the Grand Canyon.

My dad had mentioned that I should take my wife Eunhee to the Skywalk. I knew it was really popular, so I made a left off of Highway 93 heading toward Meadview, Arizona instead of continuing on 93 to Interstate 40. It was a pretty direct route, but it took about 30-40 minutes to get there after I made a left. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and there were very few cars on the road. This was especially because it happened to be during a non-peak traveling season and it was Wednesday. My wife had never seen a desert before, so she wanted to take pictures with the desert fauna and plants:

My wife enjoying being in the desert for the first time

In the middle of nowhere! Thankfully it was winter time!

On the way to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon
Then we knew we were getting closer as we saw the edge of the canyon. My wife and I were getting excited. Here's how it was when we were 15 minutes from the parking lot of the Skywalk:

Almost there!

Once we got to the first point (Grand Canyon West), which was about 3:00pm, a police officer told us where to park.

Since we got there later in the afternoon, we couldn't be as leisurely as I was hoping to be. I expected hotels to be around, we could settle down, check-in and then explore the next day. However, once we arrived, the Grand Canyon was before us and we were ready to sightsee right then and there!

Then we walked in and noticed that Native Americans were at the cashier's desk. Little did I know that it was owned by the Hualapai Indian tribe who sold us the tickets to get a bus to drive us to three sections of the Canyon. They lived on a reservation between the West Rim and Meadview, Arizona. The Hualapai tribe opened the Skywalk to the public on March 28, 2007. First, we took a bus to Eagle Point. It was still fairly sunny, we could get great views of the canyon but you can see the darkness starting to creep in.

Eagle Point of the West Rim

Here's an interesting tidbit. The elevation of the West Rim of the Grand Canyon is 4,770 feet (1,450 meters) and the elevation of the Colorado River, which is at the base of the Grand Canyon is 1,160 feet (350 meters).

This was also the same place as the Skywalk, which was very cool but extremely expensive ($76.43 per person). Not to mention that if you want pictures, you can pay about $12 for one hard copy 5" X 7" picture or over $60 for all of the pictures to be digitally e-mailed to you. We had no choice to do the latter since we probably wouldn't be back for a long time if at all. But the memories will make it worth it and we were fairly satisfied with the quality of the pictures. And my wife freaked out a bit as she was walking over the glass. That was worth the experience! Here are a couple of pictures that turned out the best:

At this point, we got on a bus and headed to Guano Point. Then we could get a nice view of the Colorado River in the middle of the canyon. It was getting darker, but we could still see the river fairly well.

Guano Point of the West Rim
Guano Point of the West Rim
We took our final shots before heading back to the parking lot and my wife was happy she came to a place that she learned about in high school. It started getting cooler and a bit darker, so it was time to get going.

Overall, I felt that the main entrance of the Grand Canyon was better than the West Rim since we could actually walk down the canyon, do some hiking, or ride a mule. Hopefully, I'll be able to take my wife there next time. But we conquered the Skywalk and still had a great time. And since we had gotten done early, we could go back to L.A. a day early. Our next goal was to get some dinner and find a hotel to stay at.

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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (February 2017)

While on my trip to L.A., my wife and I decided to head to Las Vegas for two nights before heading to the Grand Canyon. We tried to get in as much as we could before going back to California for my brother's wedding. I decided to "wing it" by not booking a hotel until we got into Las Vegas. I knew we were going to arrive on Monday and stay a couple of nights, so I took a risk. The reason is that I wanted to keep track of how much I was spending without throwing everything on a credit card, so I just brought cash with me. If I put everything on a credit card AND used cash, there's no telling how much we would spend without knowing it. Anyway, I pulled into The Linq Hotel and Flamingo Hotel parking lot and just parked our rental van.  We had a pretty cool view of the The Linq ferris wheel known as The High Roller. We were considering to go on it, but we just didn't get the chance to go on it. The cost to go on was $45 and here's how big it is:

Next, we walked into The Flamingo Hotel to see if we could get a reservation. I was getting a bit worried because there were about 10 people in line that were either checking in or possibly checking out. But once we got to the front, we met one of the men at the front desk. Ironically enough, he was from England because it showed his name and showed the country he was from at the bottom. Las Vegas even draws people internationally to work there. The British guy told us that there were indeed reservations and for $50 more, we could get a nicer view of The Strip (Las Vegas Blvd.) We decided to take it. For two nights, the cost came out to $172, which was pretty amazing for a hotel right in the heart of Vegas and right dab of the middle of The Strip. My wife and I jumped at the opportunity. Then we went on our tour of Las Vegas!

We did a lot of sightseeing, some shopping, and took MANY pictures of the interior and exterior of most of the hotels on The Strip. Here are some of my favorite shots of the hotel exteriors and other places at night:

Caesar's Palace Hotel

A view of "The Strip"
New York New York Hotel
Excalibur Hotel
Luxor Hotel

One thing you should be warned of before you go is that if you see showgirls or people dressed up as superheroes and you want to take pictures with them, you WILL be asked to tip them. As long as you know that beforehand, you can tip as much as you please. We had to take a picture on two occasions. The first one was when my wife took a picture with Marvel characters. This has to be the cutest picture of her I've ever seen:

My wife Eunhee is Marvelicious

Another time is when we saw a very attractive showgirl standing in front of The Bellagio. We both posed with her:

If you're going to eat at one of the hotel buffets, you MUST eat at Caesar's Palace. It was absolutely fantastic. They had everything you could think of: Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, seafood, steak, Middle Eastern, amazing desserts, etc. We were quite impressed and pretty much everything was excellent even the desserts. The service was great and very professional as well. We paid about $50 per person which is very reasonable for a five-star buffet which we had.

If you want to eat an amazing dessert, check out one of the French cafes in The Paris Hotel. I ordered the chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce. It was beyond amazing. The very friendly waiter recommended it to me and he was 100% correct:

Chocolate Mousse with raspberry sauce and raspberry filling

My wife and I at a French cafe inside the Paris Hotel

I recommend seeing the fountains in front of The Bellagio. They only have the fountain shows at 7:00pm and 9:00pm, so keep those times in the back of your mind. Here are a couple shots of it:

Bellagio fountains

One of my favorite places for photos was at The Venetian. The interior design was very beautifully detailed as you can see in this picture:

I also got a pretty shot of the gondola inside the hotel on the second floor. The gondola outside closes at 10:00pm but the one inside closed at 11:00pm if I remember correctly. But I do know exactly how much it cost. For one person, it's $29 and for two people it's $56. My wife and I thought the picture was actually better than the experience. It wasn't as impressive as we had expected, but it was still cool to look at. You can be the judge when you get there.

On the second of our two nights, we went to see David Copperfield, the very famous illusionist. His show was at The MGM Grand. Here's an important tip for you. DO NOT pay for tickets ahead of time. If you want to see a show, just go to The Strip and you will get many people approaching you to ask if you want to see a show. This is the perfect example. An online ticket to see David Copperfield is $119. Yes, you might get seats up in the front, but you can get decent seats on The Strip for half that price. We paid around $60 for two pretty good seats and saw a great show. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures inside due to copyright infringement laws, so we took pictures outside the theater:

There was only one thing that turned me off about Las Vegas. At night, you will have men with a stack of cards in their hands. They're trying to lure men into heading to the strip clubs. And lots of times, the men might receive the cards, realize what it is, and then throw them on the ground. 

Another thing related to that is that you'll see trucks advertising strip clubs and even advertise that they can bring women to your hotel: "Girls Direct To You". You just need to call the number and then they will make their visit to your room. I had to explain to my wife what that expression meant but I think she already figured it out before asking me. Sin City reared some of its ugly head at night. Other than that, we had a very fun time. I'm not sure if if we will go again, but my wife and enjoyed everything that we could do there. Thank you Las Vegas for keeping me and my wife thoroughly entertained for two nights!

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