Korean Trip: Nov 13 – 18, 2001 


On the plane from Vancouver to Seoul



Koreans are so friendly and open and nice! Young Eun Jo, this beautiful and smiling girl was sitting next to me on the flight from Vancouver to Seoul. She is a medicine student in one of the many universities in Seoul. She was coming back from a 1-year stay in Toronto to study English. This will help her get a good job in a big hospital in Korea, which is her dream. She loves Canada and wants to go back there one day. We chatted all the time, exchanged addresses and I promised to call her while in Seoul. She actually found time in that week to show me Seoul even though she hadn’t seen her parents and friends for one year and had probably plenty of other worthwhile things to do! We went to downtown Seoul with the subway and saw the trendiest Myong Dong area where young people go shopping and one can buy “real Burberry” scarves for 5 $! I must mention somewhere that all Koreans are VERY elegant and very beautiful, especially the women! I don’t have many pictures, apart from three Korean girls to prove it (you will see our tour guides as well), but take my word! 


At the conference (ICCE’2001):



It was great to meet my friends (I mean not actually old, but since long-time :-), Noriyuki Matsuda and Susanne Lajoie. I am in the middle. Don’t think that I didn’t work hard at the conference! Below are pictures from my talk and even a video (thanks to Noriyuki!!).


A video (AVI) recording of some of the questions during my talk.
(Ulrich Hoppe’s voice can be recognised quite prominently:-)




Sightseeing Day 1


A half-day tour to a folklore village, an open air museum.



 After the conference I went on two sight seeing tours. The first one was to a folklore village out of Seoul. The open-air museum shows typical rural homes in Korea and gives an idea of how people lived.

It is interesting that every house in old Korea consisted of at least two separate buildings, surrounded by wall and sharing an courtyard. One was for the man and the other was for his wife. Women didn’t leave the courtyard. Husband and wife were not allowed to see each other in daytime.

On the picture on the left you see the so-called “Bamboo wife”. Old Koreans could have one official wife, many concubines, and one “Bamboo wife”, for very hot nights. The Bamboo wife had the same status as the official wife! A son could never “borrow” the bamboo wife of his father.


All the buildings were heated beneath the floor. One or more ovens were used to produce heat, and the smoke went through a complex system of pipes under the floors of all rooms and finally went out through a chimney, which looks like a separate little tower. Depending on how beautiful and ornamental the chimney is, one could say how rich and important the people living in the house were. The palaces that we saw had very tall and elaborately decorated chimneys.

The system of floor heating is still used, even in the modern apartment buildings. Because of this, even now many Koreans live on the floor – they sleep on thin mats that are rolled out every evening, and packed back in the closet in the morning. They eat on little tables, sitting on the floor, as you will see next.


 Here are

two women

working - they seem to be ironing clothes.








A doctor and a female patient – like in China, he could only touch her hand.










Some traditional clothing…


On this picture Ruddy Lelouche, a colleague from the conference, who also came on the tours, is wearing a traditional Korean raincoat.


I thought it should be worn the other way around – like this à



A souvenir shop selling wood-carved things.




This is how a corner in this village looks.

















Just like in some European cities (and in Sofia as well, when I was 6 years old), the Koreans roast chestnuts and sell them. It is so nice to warm your hands holding a paper bag with hot chestnuts on a chilly and rainy autumn day!






This is another souvenir shop selling paper works and ceramics. What you see hanging on the wall on the right picture are Korean shoes! No doubt they are gracious, but I wonder how they managed to keep them on their feet – perhaps they glued them?



A view on the way back to Seoul. The weather is getting better, so tomorrow’s tour might result in sunnier pictures.


Please, check this page again for pictures and memories of days 2 and 3, including a full day tour to the two royal palaces and views from the city.