There is just one thing I would like to ask of Korea, yes, of the country as a whole. It might be a little selfish, it might be a little culturally insensitive, it might even be obnoxious as a visitor, but why? why for heaven’s sake do you put sugar on garlic bread? On corn dogs? Or anything savory? Savory should be savory! Sweet should be sweet! Savory should not be sweet. You should finish savory and then you should indulge in sweet.
Day 14 South Korea Family Travel Journal:
Today we traveled to Seoul to walk the grounds of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Temple in Seoul, South Korea. We always try to visit the local temple when we go on our travels. It offers us permanence no matter where in the world we are and a chance to feel connected to other members of our faith and see how they practice our beliefs while maintaining their cultural practices.
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Seoul Temple
Hours: Tuesday thru Saturday 10am – 7:40pm| Closed Sundays & Mondays
English Sessions Available Saturday Mornings
The temple is quaint and located at the top of a hill in the middle of a congested and busy suburb of Seoul. It’s easy to spot the spires and the gold Captain Moroni, as long as you are looking from the right vantage point. We stepped inside the lobby and the kids did a great job of being quiet. It’s quite small and while we didn’t get to see much, of course, we were able to feel the spirit and say a little prayer.
We were also able to visit the Distribution Center which was sparse at best, and it’s a good thing we didn’t plan on getting baptism clothes here, because they had zero. We did pick up a copy of The Friend magazine though and the kids are excited to read it!
This temple was built in 1985, just 33 years after the very first Korean member was baptized into the church. Since then, now 67 years since, there are now over 88,000 members in this country. It is the only temple in Korea.
Because our family apartment is in Incheon, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Temple is in Seoul, we had nearly three hours of travel to plan for. The subway trip required two transfers each way and was a minimum of 1.5 hours just going – and that was if we didn’t make any mistakes along the way.
Going was easy. Now that it is Day 14 of our travels, our family is very familiar with leaving from Incheon but coming home ended up taking nearly 2.5 hours. We strayed from visiting the temple which meant we had to find the new subway entrance from the market, then we had to transfer at a different station, and Eclair needed a potty break halfway through.
Not to mention on the way home, Pie, Molasses and I boarded the train first and the doors closed as Gabriel, Eclair and Widmore were a step behind. Gabriel had all the money, my subway ticket which is required to leave the station and my phone! This has never happened to us traveling before, and we always take public transportation! We were sure it would happen in Japan, and even set up an emergency plan, it hasn’t been nearly busy enough to worry about here in Korea.
I tried to put my hand out to stop the doors from closing but they just went right on closing, squishing my hand in the process. Gabriel mouthed through the doors to get off after one stop and wait for him. He just kept shouting, one stop, one stop, gesturing with his hand as we sped off down the tracks.
Pie was bawling with me. Eclair was bawling with Gabriel. The kids all imagined that our family would be separated forever and by the time we got off at the next stop and Gabriel arrived on the next train, no more than two minutes had expired. Neither Gabriel nor I were concerned, but the kids were devastated. It was a great learning experience, and the kids managed to stay very close to us thereafter.
Because there isn’t much to do at the temple with kids, we stayed for a little bit on the grounds to feel the Spirit and then we decided to find the famous Namdaemun Market.
Of course, we also stopped at the popsicle store we found on our way to the bus stop.
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21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Hoehyeon-dong
Hours: Sunday thru Saturday 7am – 5pm | Closed 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month
Namdaemun Market makes Bupyeong look like a baby. If Bupyeong is a dinosaur egg, Namdaemun Market is the dinosaur,. If Bupyeong is merely a planet, Namdaemun Market is the universe. If Bupyeong is a maze, Namdaemun Market is a labyrinth.
We hadn’t done a lot of research before heading out to Seoul for the day, but we knew that Namdaemun was a hot spot in Seoul and especially after visiting the Underground Market Bupyeong in Incheon we wanted to see how this market compared. Namdaemun Market has everything, and it’s not just huge and sprawling, but it’s cheap! Nearly everything, at least that we could see, was ₩5,000 to ₩10,000 won. That’s less than $10USD.
This permanent market is set up year round, with the exception of the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month. There is no end to the tables, shops and goods crawling out of the seams, cracks and crevices in between curtains, vendors and breathable air.
Namdaemun Market is the reason that our family brought an extra suitcase.
We found steep staircases that led to caverns of riches.
Children’s markets where nothing sold for more than $5.
Update: We revisited Namdaemun Market on Day 45 and it wasn’t quite as cheap as we originally thought. Plus, we found ourselves in the middle of a political protest!
Socks, shoes and bras oh my!
We found men’s suits and ties that sparkle and shine.
There was even a stinky, smelly vat of cooked bugs for sale. They smelled horrific, but Gabriel promises to eat them at a future date!
Update: He ate them! Check out Day 45: Eating Bugs in South Korea!
Between traveling and exploring the market, our family spent nearly 9 hours out and about today. We had a few other places we thought we’d get to explore but Namdaemun is incredible. We didn’t even get to see everything we wanted to here!
The kids and I got to practice our worldschooling the Korean alphabet today and things are starting to materialize. We may not have been able to read anything, but we could recognize letters and groupings whereas before they just looked like squiggles and lines.
Seoul itself is 75 square miles smaller than New York City but has 2 million more people living in it. To say it’s densely populated wouldn’t even come close to describing this metropolis. Then there is the smog. It is abominable. You can see it and you can smell it. Visibility is virtually diminished beyond the building in front of you and we learned that South Korea ranks 173/180 in terms of worst air quality and pollution.
I felt awful out in it, and I felt terrible for taking the kids into it. Gabriel thinks it’ll be fine for the short while we are here, and Incheon is slightly better than Seoul, but it doesn’t sit well with me. Utah gets bad inversion during the winter, but nothing like this. I’m constantly reminded why I want to live on the beach in Costa Rica permanently.
I stopped counting a few days ago, but today was no different as we were continually bombarded by strangers wanting to oogle and ahhh over Molasses. When we entered the subway this morning, two older ladies stopped me and begged to hold Molasses. They wanted to see the other children and patted my tummy asking if I was going to have another one. By the end of the day, when someone reached out for Molasses she grabbed tighter onto me, resting her arm across my body and laying her head on my shoulder. Somehow they thought her rejection was even cuter than being able to hold and play with her.