Tuesday, January 23, 2007

42 Coming back to Korea

After 3 weeks away from Seoul, as I rode the bus to the airport, I was wondering how it would feel to be going back. Would I be dreading leaving the cosy world of the UK with its soothing Radio 4 Today programme as a constant background, fresh porridge for breakfast every morning, fabulous countryside and its wild and windy beaches? Not to mention the fantastic shopping. But we don't mention that since the credit card bill arrived.

In fact, sitting in the departure lounge in Dubai (don't ask why, long story... and even longer route) the sound of Korean being spoken all around me was lovely. The departure lounge in Heathrow had been silent, but here were people chatting happily to each other and the sound was good.

Studying the faces around me, I was struck by what a strong-looking bunch the Koreans are on the whole. They generally have good skin, are stockily-built and have expressive eyebrows that show a lot of character.

Yet the way they wear their clothes is very different. To a foreigner, the style can be quite remarkable. Korean men tend to wear their trousers held up by a belt that is not very far at all below their nipples. This makes even the ones who are in good shape look pretty womanly. Most people wear glasses, and the older guys (often the rich ones carrying the real Vuitton attache cases) wear the big, plastic frames so loved by the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (and which probably provide the confirmation that the rest of the world needs that he is utterly bonkers).

Culture shock or not (see the Horrible Hangang post), I like the Koreans so far and can only imagine that three years here will give us a good glimpse of a very unusual people.

1 comment:

Luce said...

quite jealous of you going to far away lands then read the rest, be in touch, haven't got your email...Luce