Monday, April 29, 2013

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Last week went whizzing by and before I knew it the weekend had arrived^^.

On Saturday Jihyeon and I caught the KTX to Seoul where we went to see a baseball game. It was the first baseball game I have ever watched and.... I was not impressed. I am sorry if you are a fan of the game, but it is kind of boring. I played baseball a little at school when I was growing up and it was fun to play, but as a spectator is is dead boring. 

Anyway, I am getting a little ahead of myself. Before the game we went to Iteawon (suburb in Seoul) where we went to a supposedly Australia pie shop. I was not terribly impressed. The quality of the pies was similar to what you get in the frozen section at Woolworths (large Australian supermarket chain). It wasn't a bad feed, but I will not be traveling all that way again just for a soggy pie. 

I did not have a good feeling about Iteawon and even though it was the middle of the day it was the first place in Korea I didn't feel "safe". There were westerners everywhere and some of them were very loud and drunk (in the middle of the day). After seeing how they were behaving I can see why some Koreans don't like westerners. I draw some solace from the fact that they were speaking with American accents which means they are mainly only hurting America by their poor behavior. I really hope none of them are English teachers at the local hagwon's, but sadly I suspect they are. 

A short walk from the pie shop was a Mosque so Jihyeon and I went to check it out. We were greeted at the foot of the stairs by a friendly elderly Korean man who took us to the doorway (we were not allowed inside) and explained some of the rules and what happens inside. 

We decided leave the drunk/drugged up westerners behind and jump back on the subway and head to a different area of Seoul. We went to Insadong do an area called Ssamjigil which is home to lots of small businesses selling all manner of nick nacks and souvenirs. It is my Grandmothers birthday next week so I needed to find a card for her. I was in a grumpy mood (I don't like shopping and I was hungry) so Jihyeon shut me up by stuffing me with food at a restaurant down two flights of stairs in the basement of a building.

After lunch as we were heading back to the subway station we encountered a parade. It was to celebrate the wedding of Emperor Gojong and Empress Myeongseong. Their union had a tragic end when the Japanese assassinated the empress in 1895. When you start digging into Korean history you can really start to understand why there is still a lot of distrust and tension today between Korea and Japan.
From Wikipedia
In the early morning of 8 October 1895, sword-bearing assassins, allegedly under orders from Miura GorĊ, entered Gyeongbok Palace. Upon entering the Queen's Quarters (Okhoru Pavilion), the assassins "killed three court [women] suspected of being Empress Myeongseong. When they confirmed that one of them was the Empress, they burned the corpse in a pine forest in front of the Okhoru Pavilion, and then dispersed the ashes." She was 43 years old.
The assassination of the Korean Empress ignited outrage among other foreign powers. To appease growing international criticism, the Japanese government "recalled Miura and placed him under a staged trial at the Hiroshima District Court, while the military personnel involved were tried at a military court. All were given the verdict of not-guilty on the grounds of insufficient evidence."

We then made our way to the Jamsil Sports Complex where the baseball stadium was located. After getting off the subway at the wrong station, we eventually arrived about 4:30PM. We met up with Jihyeon's sister and her sisters boyfriend and then headed into the stadium. Something I found was nice is you can take your own food and beverages into the stadium with you which allows you to escape the stupid prices normally charged inside stadiums. 

Out the front of the stadium were people selling snack foods to take into the stadium. Pictured here are some old ladies selling dried squid, kimbap (Korean sushi), soju (alcohol made from rice) and beer. 

Jihyeon purchased me a mega hand. What does one do with a mega hand? This was the first thing that came to my mind :)

We were there to see the Lotte Giants (Lotte is a large Korean conglomerate) Vs the LG Twins (LG is another large Korean conglomerate).


We headed inside and found our seats. Jihyeon's sister had bought some really good seats nice and close to the... errr.... game.

Baseball is a boring game, but thankfully the Koreans have spiced it up a bit with lots of singing and pretty girls dancing :).

Something I thought was interesting (not for a good reason) is that all the chants were for the company name not the team name. In Australia if/when you chant for a team, you don't chant the name of the sponsor. You chant the name of the team. I can't help but wonder if it is some sort of sinister plot to brainwash Koreans into loving Lotte who is a large conglomerate making/selling everything from heavy chemicals to electronics. They also operate a fast food chain similar to McDonalds. 

Later they treated us to PSY's Gentleman

After 3 hours... Lotte won :). Sorry about the jerky video. I was trying to part take in the celebrations while also filming. 

After the game we headed to Jihyeon's sisters home in Suwon for the night.

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