Chilly strolls through Seoul Forest, War Memorial

Winter has arrived in Seoul, and it seems like just overnight! The other morning we woke up and it was snowing flurries. Today the snow actually stuck to the ground. I say overnight because the temperatures suddenly dropped into the 20s and teens. B-R-U-T-A-L when you’re out and about on foot. The wind makes it feel like it’s in the single digits. I know, some of you are midwesterners and love this stuff (cough, Will, cough) but not this island girl! I guess it’s a good excuse to bundle up — let me tell you, vanity goes out the window when you’re walking those final blocks back home and the wind’s hitting your face and your fingers are about to lose all feeling — yesterday I wrapped my Irish wool scarf up to my cheeks. The other day I simply looked silly. (Mainly because I don’t have proper winter gear, yet.) Whatever it takes:

For whatever reason, that first really cold day I decided to visit Seoul Forest, maybe get to pet some of the “wild” deer they have roaming about. The park hasn’t been around long, just since 2005, I guess it used to be an industrial area. Now it’s a big park along the Han River, featuring (in addition to the Sika deer) an insect garden, an outdoor theater, a children’s playground, biking paths, a community center, waterworks museum and more. As I really briskly walked through, trying not to get frostbite, I imagined it must be so pretty in the spring and summer. Right now everything looks dead, and I was one of maybe 10 visitors there that day. But the park has several spots from which you can see the river, including this bridge I discovered and decided to cross to see where it led. The deer, unfortunately, were penned up and being fed, but I got to see them through the fence at least. There were a lot of them, maybe 30 or so. So yeah, not the most ideal time of the year to visit Seoul Park, but I plan to be back in the spring and enjoy some nice walks there.

The War Memorial of Korea offered more in the way of shelter from the bitter cold. Along with, I don’t know, a bit of history? Just a bit. 🙂

This is an impressive complex with various monuments and an outdoor exhibition area showcasing large aircraft, tanks and other weaponry used in the Korean War. The actual museum building has three floors of exhibitions offering very detailed looks at the country’s war history (as far back as B.C. 37) and the Korean War. I spent two hours there and barely experienced floors 1 and 2. They have so many artifacts, films, simulations, interactive exhibits and beautiful memorial halls, you could easily spend a full day exploring the museum. While a very solemn place, I also thought the museum is very high-tech and well done, in the sense that it keeps you interested. On a side note, I saw several groups of (I’m assuming Korean) military soldiers touring the museum while I was there, and it was the middle of the week.

I almost forgot to mention, the War Memorial of Korea is also (somewhat randomly) hosting a “Van Gogh: A Record of Ten Years” exhibition through Feb. 8, 2015.

Van Gogh exhibit through February 2015.
Van Gogh exhibit through February 2015.

 

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