I have been in Seoul, South Korea for five weeks now and summer is officially over (though try telling the weather that). With the end of summer and the start of fall, music festival season in South Korea is rapidly coming to an end. There are only a handful of festivals left this year and many of them are far from Seoul.
Just like last week, I attended a concert for class. I am in a class about Korean popular music and one of our assignments is to attend a Korean idol music concert. A classmate invited me to go to the Incheon K-pop Concert (INK) with her to complete this requirement. She found tickets for under 2USD! Including roundtrip transportation, we spent about $8 on the concert.
Incheon is a city located about an hour and half from our university in Seoul. It is a bit of a journey, but the public transportation system in South Korea makes it easy to get there (we only needed to change trains once).
The first train we took was an airport express train. The primary international airport for Seoul is located in Incheon so there is an express train that takes you from Seoul into Incheon and then on to the airport (the airport is on the opposite side of Incheon). As I was standing on the train, I noticed a screen above some of the seats playing advertisements and short clips of information. One video caught my attention; it was about the disputed islands of Dokdo/Takeshima. The video claimed to show evidence that the islands belong to South Korea. The video served as a reminder to me of the tensions that still exist between Japan and South Korea (this particular dispute is over 300 years old). Learning about these tensions is one of the reasons I wanted to come study in South Korea.
I was not able to enroll in a political science or history course this semester which seems to be the easiest way to learn about the tense history between these two nations. Since seeing the video on the train, I have been thinking about other ways I could learn about the history between these nations.
These first five weeks I have been caught up in meeting new people, making friends, my classes, and taking advantage of all the fun things there are to do in Seoul. While I still want to do fun things and jump on opportunities to learn more about South Korea and its culture (like going to the INK concert), it is also important to remember my goals in coming to South Korea and working towards them. So, I have started a list of the historical places and museums I would like to visit to help me work towards my goals outside the classroom. I am almost halfway through my first semester here and I am disappointed that I haven’t been working towards meeting my pre-departure goals yet. But there is still time to change that.