Celebrating Chuseok in Seoul

26 Sep

My apologies friends for not posting in a while. I took off to Seoul for a week in honor of the Korean holiday Chuseok. I hesitate to say it’s the Korean version of Thanksgiving, but that’s probably the western holiday it most resembles. Koreans head back to their hometowns to be with family and exchange gifts. There’s also seems to be a lot of free cultural events that happen in and around major cities (all temples and museums were free during my stay, for example, and there were many cultural performances going on all around the city). At any rate, my school gave me the whole week off so tossed some clothes in a bag and made a dash for the capital.

My thoughts on Seoul? Madness.

For all of you that don’t know, Seoul–a city of over 12 million people–is one of the most populated cities in the world. I don’t know how you teachers who opt for Seoul do it. I’m not saying I don’t like the place, but I’ll be damed if I ever had to live there for a year. Hell, I’m pretty sure spending just five days there shaved a good four years off my life expectancy. Here’s a few highlights:

The district of Itaewon might as well be called foreignerville. It has got to be one of the only places in Korea where you will see more foreigners than actual Koreans walking down the street. On one of the first there, we decide to to venture into a pub to meet up with some other teachers from Busan, and the only Koreans in the joint were the bartenders and one of our group leaders from orientation. At one point, as I’m trying to enjoy some overpriced bourbon, a drunk white girl stumbles over to me and offers to make out with me for five seconds if I give her a cigarette. I contemplate dumping my drink on her before I remember how much I payed for it. Instead, I toss her a cigarette and nudge her to the side hoping that she will stumble in front of a dart being thrown by one of her British cronies.

Later, we manage to find a hip-hop club (finally) and I’m again disappointed by what I find. I don’t  mean to lecture, but if you are a gang member back in your home country, don’t bring that shit to Korea. It pissed me off to see people throwing up gang signs amongst others who were simply there to have a good time. You fuckers are the reason hip-hop gets a bad rep overseas. Enough said.

I guess you have to take the good with the bad. Yeah there’s far too many westerners in Itaewon, but the area also has some great restaurants AND I found a hair shop that could tighten up my kimchi dreadlocks. For any of my readers who are in Korea (or are coming in the future) with dreadlocks or any other natural hair style, drop a few lines in the comment section and I’ll pass along the info on how to find the place.

You want to go out in Seoul? Go to Hongdae (Hongik University area). Every month there is a club night where 15,000 won gets you into a bunch of participating venues. On one of our last nights in Seoul, we go and bounce from bar to bar (the problem with going out in a big group) in search of the crazy party scene that everyone talks so much about, and we  finally settle into club called Cocoon. Now there are plenty of clubs in Busan, but I’m quite sure none of them can match the magnitude and shear pandemonium of Cocoon. Multi-leveled, two bars, a massive stage and enough laser lights to trigger a seizure at any moment, Cocoon is a place where you need to be prepared for a long night. You think you’ve only been there for an hour until you step outside for some air and realize the sun is about to rise. It is here that I decide to test what I now call “The dreadlock factor.”

Club Cocoon

Basically the dreadlock factor is what I employ in Korea when I either need an ego boost (which I would argue we all need from time to time) or I want to take the party to the next level. Heres how its done:

Step 1:
Head to the stage or the dance floor.

Step 2:
Remove your hair tie letting your dreads fall.

Step 3:
Shake the hell out of your dreads while dancing. Headbanging is accepted.

Step 4:
Brace yourself to be damn near attacked by a drove of Korean clubbers looking to join in on the fun. For whatever reason, they love it.

My advice about “the dreadlock factor?” Use it wisely and be careful. I did it in club Ghetto in Busan and almost didn’t make it out alive. A friend of mine had to pull me out of the crowd when my dreads were almost ripped right from my scalp, scary shit indeed. The result was comparable when I did it in Cocoon, but I managed to scurry behind some friends dancing on the stage, thus avoiding any serious injuries.

The Sights
Besides the partying, there are is also some good sight seeing to be had in Seoul. I’m reluctant to place a “must see” stamp on anything because the truth is I’m not hard to please. A few markets, a couple of temples and a museum and I’m happy. We pretty much walked everywhere around the city and managed to hit most of the popular sights whilst munching on street food. While the elaborate  Gyeongbokgung Palace is beautiful, and the areas along the Cheong-gye-cheon stream are good places to people watch, I probably enjoyed hiking up to N Seoul Tower the most. In the observatory up top we caught views of  the entire city at sunset, right as everything lit up. I won’t go on and on about how to get there and how much it cost (there are plenty of K-blogs that do just that), but I will say that when you make it to the top, there’s a corn dog stand that shouldn’t be missed. Like I said, I’m not hard to please.

Seoul treated me well and I will be back to further explore, but Busan is still the better city in my opinion. After all, I didn’t see one beach in Seoul.


Kimchi Dreadlocks


13 Responses to “Celebrating Chuseok in Seoul”

  1. Light Bright September 27, 2010 at 12:35 AM #

    A corn dog stand?? LMA0 J! I was thinking like a magical view, and you said a corn dog stand! I love it! Quite the experiences, Dread lock factor being one of my favorites. Busan really has a club Ghetto?? 0MG! Crazy times there in Korea. I am happy you caught up on your entries… I could hardly wait to see what was going on overseas. Sorry Seoul wasn’t what you expected, but cheers to another city you’ve conquered!

    • Jaywoodseyo September 27, 2010 at 1:31 PM #

      Light Bright,
      There is actually a funny story tied to that corn dog stand.

      Basically, on my second round of 2 corn dogs, I manage to find some mustard at another stand that had already closed for the evening. I tell this to a few of my friends and we make our way down the stairs to grab some up. Little did we know the owner of corn dog stand no. 2 isn’t really in the business of dishing out mustard to non-customers. He comes running over screaming and flailing his arms basically telling us to move the fuck on. What do we do? One of my friends simply takes off running back up the stairs (he managed to get some mustard on his corn dogs before said merchant made a guest appearance), I quickly squirt a bunch on my corn dogs, while yet another friend of mine yells at me to hurry up so he can jack some as well. We made off like bandits robbing a stage coach–mustard bandits. I’m almost positive that on that day I heard the most Korean swear words since I’ve been on the peninsula.

      Thanks for the comment chica. I wanted to work this into the original post but it was already too long.

  2. Gerree September 27, 2010 at 7:15 AM #

    Yet another well written and entertaining blog of your ongoing adventures!! You are an awesome young man! Keep up the good work!!

    • Jaywoodseyo September 27, 2010 at 1:15 PM #

      Thanks Gerree!
      It’s good to hear that people actually enjoy reading this thing. I’ll try to keep the posts interesting and entertaining always.

  3. Sam September 27, 2010 at 8:51 PM #

    As always, a really well-structured and humorous account of your travels. I’m not sad that I skipped the hip-hop club now, although I really should have bought that corn-dog…

  4. Harvey October 15, 2010 at 11:30 AM #

    Yeah Seoul is way to crowded….. BUT! I still love Seoul! I’ve been living here for a year and half and I never get tired of this place. Do you plant to visit Seoul again? If so, here is the list of clubs at Hongdae
    http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=255773 I think there are way more clubs though..

  5. Seo December 16, 2010 at 3:50 PM #

    Very entertaining blog you have here
    I was searching online to find a shop that do dreads.
    Would you mind telling me some shops in Korea that you know of?

    • Kimchi Dreadlocks December 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM #

      Sorry for the late reply on this. I’ve been quite busy with Winter camp planning. The shop I go to is in Itaewon. Not too far from subway exit 3. Its called Ebony Hair. From what I hear, her prices have gone up, but I think she does a top rate job. email me and I can give you directions if you are interested. mr.mizzle84@gmail.com. Hope this helps. Thanks for checking out the blog.

  6. kboogie April 15, 2011 at 10:55 PM #

    You do realize that Itaewon is where the soldiers hang out from 8th Army Yongsan base, literally a 5 minute walk from there. That’s why the area is mostly Westerners. The nickname for the area is ‘Hooker Hill’, which goes back to the Korean War. Just curious what was the name of the Hip-Hop club you went to – back in the day…long, long, long time ago…it was the Ebony Club.

  7. Jose Gabriel Pinto April 3, 2012 at 2:05 AM #

    Hey dude!
    I need to re-twist my dreads.. do you know anyone, any place or any area in Seoul where I can fix my dreads? the dreadlock factor is awesome btw!

    • Kimchi Dreadlocks April 3, 2012 at 3:11 AM #

      Yeah you can to Ebony hair salon in Itaewon. There’s a woman there names Princess Thelma. Search for her on FB. She does a great job but it’s a bit pricey.

  8. Antoine Goldlocks May 31, 2013 at 6:45 PM #

    I was wondering about that shop who tightened your dread locks. Could you give me directions there? Going crazy right now, been over 3 months since i had them fixed last time.
    I liked the read BTW.

    • JayDreadlocks June 1, 2013 at 2:20 PM #

      Sorry it took me so long to reply. I’m blogging from Taiwan now and don’t often check back on this one. The place is called Ebony hair salon. The lady there does a great job, but it’s a bit expensive (or at least it was when I went). It’s in Itaewon closest to exit three of the subway station. When you walk out of the station do a complete 180 and walk to the corner take a left, walk past the Taco Bell and the at the first small street take another left. halfway down the block on the left you will see it. You can make an appointment via FB. Search for Princess Telma Powers. She is the owner. Good Luck.

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