A drum sounds, and an intimidating guard master paces back and forth,
presiding over his charges at the changing of the guard at Gyeongbokgung
Royal Palace. Everything must be perfect for this ancient ceremony.
Or, not. A moment after the guards are in place, someone rushes
fixes one of the subordinate's hats - apparently he wasn't wearing it the right
way. The subordinate breaks into a broad smile.
For 15000 Won (about $16) you can have your picture taken as royalty
Chosan family. Moments after I took this picture, the atmosphere was lost when
the woman on the left took a cell phone call.
The answer to the obvious question is . . . No. I didn't check it out.
On Sunday, I decided to pop in to mass at the Catholic Cathedral in
Seoul - a beautiful
Gothic building that, unfortunately, was covered in construction scaffolding and mesh.
I was a bit late, and couldn't find a seat in the center nave, but no worries - flat-screen TVs were
mounted on the columns, so nobody's view was obstructed.
Previously, I had compared Korea to Germany: everywhere there is a sense
of safety and orderliness:
One of my co-workers was "shush-ed" on the subway by a natives for talking too loudly (admitedly, he
is a little loud) and another complained that she was ignored in the Namdaemum street market when she
tried to haggle the posted price down - the price listed is the price you pay.
There are even swastikas here (apparently it's an ancient Buddhist symbol predating the, um, more recent use):
Wednesday night and Thursday morning, it rained. Then, on Thursday
afternoon, the humidity that
was stifling all week blew away so completely that by evening, all of Seoul, it seemed, was strolling
about enjoying the change in weather. This is the riverwalk I'd photographed on my previous trip: