Saturday, August 25, 2007

Meanwhile, Back in Korea

Well, I’ve finally gotten out from under the pile of new yarn and have time for another Korea post.
I took two days to explore Seoul after I’d sat at HGS for about a week. I was going to take three but I was so exhausted after two that I decided to just hang around HGS for my last day. That’s actually when I took most of the pictures there.
Seoul is a really interesting city. It is really vibrant and full of life. The subway and bus system is so easy I really felt like I could get anywhere I wanted to.
My first day in Seoul didn’t start out that well, though. It was pouring rain and the umbrella I’d brought with me was about the size of a postage stamp and just not up to the challenge. I tried to look around the Anguk section of Seoul, which is right next to Chogye-sa, the head temple for all of Korea. There are lots of shops that cater to the monks and nuns. I had an idea of getting myself some fabric to make another set of practice clothes. Unfortunately, I wandered into the wrong store. It was a fairly high-end shop from the looks of it and the woman in there was already waiting on a nun. I saw bolts of fabric and stepped up into a raised area of the shop to get a better look. Suddenly, the woman in the shop starts yelling ‘Noshoesnoshoesnoshoesnoshoes!’ Apparently, I was supposed to take my shoes off before stepping up into that section! Who knew!?? I beat it out of there and back into the rain.
By that time I was pretty soaked. Fortunately, Kim had asked me to buy him an umbrella while I was out. I finally remembered this and bought a great big umbrella that improved my outlook enormously. I was too wet to keep walking around outside so I decided to find this great big indoor market in the Dongdaemun shopping district. I’d heard a rumor that there was yarn there!

Yarn there was and even a knitting/crochet group!

My friend Kathy, who is Korean, thought this was really funny since she’s never once seen a knitting group in Korea and I found one my first day in the city. I was so happy to see them. I showed them my socks and suddenly I got offered coffee and was invited to sit down.

I had found my people! None of them spoke any English and we all know how much Korean I speak but we all seemed to understand each other anyway. I sat with them for about an hour slowing drying out and recovering from my encounter with the shop lady. I got some yarn there too (of course!). It is very fine gauge wool. The things people seemed to be making where knitted or crocheted lacy tops to wear over a camisole (you can see all the shop samples hanging up) and novelty yarn purses that you make the body of and then take to a different part of the building to be professionally finished. Sock knitting has definitely not taken hold there which seems funny to me since you spend so much time in your stocking feet in Korea. It is actually considered bad manners to walk around inside in bare feet. Since people eat, sleep and essentially do all their living on the floor, you need to keep your feet covered. Maybe if I knit enough socks for friends over there, maybe they’ll catch on!
My second day in the city, I went to this amazing palace right in the middle of Seoul. I wasn’t too excited about the big barren areas surrounded by buildings but when I started following the road around the palace grounds, I was charmed.

Doesn't this wall want to be a Fair Isle pattern?

There are all these lovely natural areas with small buildings peeking out of the trees.

There were any number of these areas that the royal family and the court used for different purposes. One area, the Kings Well, was used for poetry writing parties. It was just beautiful!

Another thing that struck me about Seoul was how modern Seoul and traditional Seoul are right beside each other. Any number of times in the city, I’d look around and there’d be a small temple or other ancient building in amongst the high rises.

I really enjoyed my visits into Seoul but I have to say that I'm not really built for too much touring. I was so tired when I got back that second day that when I lay down for a nap at 5pm, I slept right through evening practice!

In my next post, we say goodbye to Hwa Gye Sa and head off to Mu Sang Sa!


somebunnysloveDOTcom said...

That's so awesome you found that knitting group. The grounds look absolutely breath-taking. I would love to be surrounded by all that history. Now we need to find someone to chart that wall for us! I see socks, or a hat...

Emily said...

I thought that I should let you know that I'm at JFK airport, waiting to board my flight to Japan, and I have the latest sock club yarn as my traveling sock. I thought it made sense to show a nice Boston sock yarn a good time. :)
Oh, I'll be posting about my trip at

Archik said...

Yarn at korea cheap or not?

mary jane said...

Just reading this 3 years after your trip. I love the pictures and the story. Yes to the fair isle patterned wall! I'm instructing my friend who will be visiting Korea, to bring along some sock knitting!