A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

War & Greece

Today in Itaewon, Shane and I ate lunch at a Greek restaurant called Santorini. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy Korean food, but tasting moussaka after 4 months of mostly rice and fermented vegetables of various persuasions, is like... eating an angel or something. It cost an arm and a leg, but for the hearty bechamel and then baklava for dessert, it was an indulgence worthy of its own song and dance number. Fortunately, we were much too full to follow through as such.

The Greek kitchen is the finest on the planet and it would take a deranged Spartan serving me an uncooked, bloody goat's head on a platter to even merit suggesting otherwise.

We also visited the War Memorial Museum and gaped at the chronological triumphs of destruction, from obsidian knives, tridents and the famous Korean Turtle Ship, to jeep-toting hydrofoils and bombs the size of my apartment.

As we walked through a reconstruction of the mess hall of a Korean War era submarine, we passed a video kiosk showing images of the subs in action, and were paused not by the visuals but by a certain preposterously recognizable tune.

"How long before we hear the Pirates of the Caribbean theme?" Shane said 100% jokingly before we entered the naval history exhibit.

As it turned out, only about 15 minutes.

Just like in the footage of Samsung's robot machine-gun, the epic "Pirates" overture was here lending itself to the archival footage of the sub.

What is it with Korea and this piece of music?

Hans Zimmer should seriously talk to ROK military brass about scoring training videos to get kids more psyched about their mandatory service.

On a serious note though, walking through a war museum really struck me with the magnitude of how 50 years ago, this country was starving and decimated, and now it's standing at the forefront of developed Asia.

Walking through a model recreation of a post-war refugee camp really gave a face to Korea's frantic end-of-the-century boom of infrastructure that now covers much of the horizon in boxy high-rises. It's really quite remarkable to walk through the high-octane consumer metropolis of Seoul and think that not long ago it was in ruin after being occupied by the North Korean Army, and again shortly after by Chinese troops. All that after finally being liberated from decades of Japanese Imperial rule.

Amazing.

1 comment:

Shane Patenaude said...

The taste of Baklava after such a long break was almost enough to make me weep with joy. But the Greek see tears as a sign of weakness. That was a close one.