Seoul Style {Streets of Myeong Dong}

Today, my fingers suffered for the sake of photography, which I don’t regret. I think it was one of the coldest days of winter here in Seoul at -7 degrees Celsius. Remember, I’ve been living in hot 31 degrees Celsius weather these past 6 months in Singapore!

Myeong dong is known for all of it’s shopping and tourists! It’s definitely a place to visit if you are ever in Seoul. After warming ourselves up with Shabu-shabu for lunch, Melody and I hit the cold streets with our cameras in our hands.

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The Party Princess Cafe @ Myeong Dong

During the slice of life challenge, I wrote a bucket list of things I want to do in Korea before I leave. Elsie suggested that I could write a slice about the things that I cross off.

We took one of our friends as part of her early birthday present.  We didn’t tell her where we were going. All we said was, we are going to be taking pictures! We took her on the subway and finally arrive to Myeong Dong. First, we took her dress shopping (for her birthday dinner outfit). Then, we started walking to the cafe. As we walked past stores and different streets, she tried to guess where we were taking her.  She we knew she would never guess where. Then, we got lost. I was trying to follow the directions I printed out on the Internet that weren’t very specific. I ended up calling the cafe and they gave me easy directions. Afer that, we found it very quickly. Our friend was very surprised and excited!

Only in Korea can you rent dresses and take pictures in a cafe. We definitely had a fun time choosing dresses, dressing up and taking photos, Korean style! They had traditional Hanboks (Korean dress), party dresses and even wedding dresses. You do have to buy one drink per person from the cafe and you have to pay to rent a dress. The dresses cost from 10,000-40,000KRW (about $10-40). There are actually tuxes/suits that guys can rent as well. You have about an hour to take the photos in the different rooms.

 


Directions to the party princess cafe:
Take Line 2, get off Eulchiro 1-ga, exit 6. Walk straight (1-2 minutes), pass the KB bank, until you see an IBIS hotel on the left. Go inside, and on the second floor you’ll find the party princess cafe, across from other restaurants. Or you can get off Myeong Dong station and walk through the main street, towards the big H&M and CGV, and make a right onto the Krispy Kreme alley. From there, walk straight a few minutes and you’ll see an entrance to the cafe, in the IBIS hotel building.
The slice of life challenge is hosted every Tuesday by Two Writing Teachers.

Mondays, Mountains & Myeong Dong

Slice of Life Challenge Entry #6: Mondays, Mountains, and Myeong Dong         

Every Monday evening, for the past 3 years, I’ve been trekking up a mountain, both in the physical and spiritual. I travel after school via bus, subway and foot to Namsan Mountain located in Myeong Dong. It takes me a good hour if I make the subway transfers quickly. By the time I climb up the steep, curvy, and narrow street just wide enough for a car and pedestrians on both sides, I am usually breathing a bit heavier and realizing how out of shape I am. The good ten-minute walk up the street to where the orphanage is located is not the most pleasant, especially when it’s freezing winter Seoul weather.

Every Monday evening, as I walk up the mountain to the orphanage where I volunteer to tutor a 14-year old Korean girl in English, it has been a spiritual mountain to climb as well.  Part of my reason in volunteering was this verse that has always spoken to me deeply, “Pure and undefiled religions in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world,” James 1:27. Yet, sometimes I admit I didn’t want to go. I would try to think of excuses of why I shouldn’t go. However, I would still go, sometimes with an unwilling attitude in my heart and then after working with my girl and seeing all the loving kids in the orphanage, I am full of joy.

In Korea, many of the children in the orphanages are not true orphans. Many of them do have 1 or 2 parents still in Korea, but for whatever reasons (financial, mental, physical, etc…) cannot take care of their child and send them to the orphanage. One would hope that would be an absolute last resort, but sometimes, it seems almost like an easy way out. They are allowed to keep in contact with their child in the orphanage and sometimes after a year or two some children do go back to their parents.

It is not as common and desired by Koreans to adopt kids like in the U.S. There is no foster care system here. Many kids that have been given up or abandoned by their parents come to these orphanages. There is unfortunately a negative stigma against orphans in the Korean society and people look down on them. One of the most heart breaking things I’ve heard is that sometimes teachers in school, when they find out their student is an orphan, they treat them badly and give up on them. These are the people that I would hope would do exactly the opposite of that. I do hope and pray that there are teachers that give these orphans more love, like I would.

Every Monday evening, I wonder, am I really making a difference? As my Monday’s in Korea are coming to an end, I’m slowly coming down this mountain. I hope she realizes that even though I might not be there with her physically, I will be supporting her through my prayers. I’ve persevered, weathered a bit of my soul and learned that God’s love can overcome mountains of any size.

The view of Seoul from the top of Seoul Tower

Another view of Seoul

Another view of Seoul from the top of Namsan Mountain