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« Photos Of Me Making A Fool Of Myself | Main | Korea: Getting There »
Monday
Jan262009

Korea: Where Am I Now?

When I woke up in Seoul, I was a little confused about where I was. In addition to the unfamiliarity hotel room, South Korea has a seventeen-hour time difference from Santa Barbara, and it's on the other side of the International Dateline. This means that despite leaving home on Saturday morning, when I woke up it was Monday. And of course, because my body was confused about what time it, I woke up around 5 AM. Once it got light, though, I was able to see this out of my hotel room window:



Where was I staying? That requires a brief explanation of South Korean addresses. There's a good overview here, but the short version is that Seoul is divided into twenty-five gu, or districts. These districts are further divided into dong, or neighborhoods. My hotel was in Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu. So far pretty straightforward, right? The tricky part about this is that while some streets have names (like Olympic-ro, the one in front of my hotel), most addresses are simply given as a number within a dong. (This number apparently comes from the land lot records, but my sources are little confusing on the matter.) So my hotel's full address was 40-1 Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Korea. Kind of makes it hard to find, no?

Fortunately I was staying at a local landmark: the Lotte World Hotel. The Lotte Group is one of the largest of South Korea's chaebol. Chaebol are large, family-run, government-assisted business conglomarates, similar to the old Japanese zaibatsu. To the outsider, they're companies that do everything. So Lotte, in addition to running a theme park, makes fast food (I saw a fair number of Lotterias on my trip), issues credit cards, owns two baseball teams, and operates a chain of department stores. And when you looked a little further out my window, it was easy to see where I was.



With that mystery solved, I headed off to meet one of my coworkers for breakfast.

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