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SEOUL 101: Naksongdae Neighborhood, Street Market & 치맥 (Fried Chicken)

July 9, 2010

Seoul National University is located near Naksongdae (낙송대) Station, which in Korean means “The Place Where Stars Fall”. On Sam’s recommendation, I asked Miki out for a round of 치맥. We walked to 낙송대 from our 기숙사 and I never realised that our surroundings were so pretty. SNU is located among a bunch of mountains and we have hikers coming from all over Seoul every day (most ajosshis and ajummas) to hike on our grounds. It used to be located more centrally (its medical campus is still on its original grounds) but because of the many strikes that SNU students were very politically active in, the government decided to move them into a rural area. It’s good though because I get to see a grittier side of Seoul that is rarely seen in the central districts.

It was almost sunset as we were making our way to Naksongdae and that managed to light up the sky beautifully. There is really alot of greenery around SNU.

The Gwanaksa Family Dormitories. This is where the professors and their spouses stay, most likely free of charge. No fair!

The Naksongdae Gardens

There is no lack of space in Seoul. If you look to the back, you can see a white structure. That's the observatory, and it's probably the best place to catch a glimpse of falling stars.

On our way to Naksongdae for dinner

The landscape architecture of the gardens remind me somewhat of Japan. I’m not really sure actually, maybe I’ll learn more about it in my architecture in Asia class next semester.

A little surprise for visitors. A temple tucked away in the woods.

Beyond these temples, are even more temples

Yup, there is an ongoing campaign to make Seoul more woman-friendly.

Doesn't this remind you of HDBs in Singapore?

There are alot of city centre fountains. This kid was too cute!

We finally reached the wet market where clusters of street stalls sell almost anything you could want, at extremely low prices. Miki and I took a walk around the area, checking out all the various stalls and attempting to find a 치맥 stall.

I finally asked the fruit stall guy after buying a bunch of bananas from him where we could find good 치맥. All the guys selling fruit started laughing, hahaha! It was probably because it was such an unexpected question coming from a female tourist with a huge camera slung around her neck and a bunch of bananas in her hand. To put things into context, 치맥 is a “pub meal” of sorts, you dig in and eat sloppily with you hands (that’s the art of eating it), lick your greasy lips smeared with flavorful 양념, all the while downing 맥주. It’s a really guy thing to do. The fruit seller’s friend was so delighted we were going to try 치맥 that he volunteered to look after the stall for a bit while the fruit seller walked us to the best 치맥 stall in the neighborhood! Miki and I were so delighted – 운이 좋다!

The whole experience was really surprise after surprise. When I stepped into the stall, I started speaking to Miki in Chinese (Surprisingly, after I came to Korea, Chinese has become my second language. I actually think I use it more than English.) and these two middle-aged men next to me started speaking to me in tone-perfect Mandarin! They are actually Koreans who studied Chinese before. After we started chatting, they sent over some roasted chicken (better than deep-fried IMHO, sorry Sam) and we had a whole 2.5 hour long conversation mangled with Chinese, Korean and English. They handed me their name cards and I found out they were Korea Telecom (i.e. Korea’s equivalent of SingTel) workers and one of them was from marketing & sales, the other was from engineering. In fact, almost 20 years ago, they were the ones who designed and brought pagers into Singapore! I went home and handed the name card to my roommate who said that they were indeed pretty high-ranking workers. In a strange twist, they even offered me a job over a plate of 치맥 and said in the event that I would ever need a job in Korea in the future, to contact them. Haha I don’t need it right now but at least now I know that I can possibly be gainfully employed even without a scholarship. Anyway, back to more important things – FOOD. Below is the 매운 roasted chicken (beats the fried one hands doooown!)

The fried one – it’s good too but KFC is better lol. Sam tells me I went to the wrong chain – maybe, but dude KFC crispy chicken is right up there on my list of good food. It’s even better than sliced bread! Oh man, it’s making me hungry. Maybe I’ll have some chicken for dinner tonight. Hmmm.

In the end, we left to pay our bill for our own plate of 치맥 but the 아주머니들 said that the men had already picked up our tab. When we went back to their table and tried to pay them back, they refused, saying,”You are 외국인 in Korea. It will be rude if Koreans do not welcome you into our country. Let us pay!”  Ah, Korea. (:

P.S. By the way, I tried Sannakji (live octopus) yesterday. No, it didn’t cling unto my throat. Yes, it was delicious. Yes, I was scared. And yes, it’ll be my next post, unless something more exciting happens. Oh btw, I came across this ridiculous article that stated that there are death threats posed to the octopus which has predicted almost all game outcomes accurately this past World Cup. The octopus guards better be darn careful of any suspicious Koreans because they can just eat the octopus LIVE! No need for cooking. And it actually tastes pretty good, I should know. (;

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Danielle permalink
    July 14, 2010 9:16 pm

    that was so nice of those korea telecom people! 😀 especially the job offer part lol my goodness.

    those chicken pics made me so hungry but that feeling was quashed by the end of the entry… I cannot believe you tried live octopus… D:

  2. July 28, 2010 9:06 am

    Hi We are a family living in Seoul – right in the Nakseongdae neighborhood. My daughters played in the fountain in your post just last night. I am looking for a market in this area just like the one in your post. Would you mind telling me exactly where it is?
    Thanks – fun to read your post.


    • July 29, 2010 5:00 pm

      Hi Elana, wow that’s such a coincidence! How did you stumble upon my blog? The 시장 (do you read Korean?) is a walk away from the naksongdae station and tucked away in an alley. I think it appears only in the evenings, if I’m not wrong and is near a supermarket. If you ask around for the naksongdae shichang (market), people should know what you’re talking about. Good luck!!

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