Today’s tale started at Myeondong, a famous shopping district in Seoul, and ended in Lotte Market in front of Seoul Station where I visited a Korean shopping mall for the first time. I bet I would be able to write at least 5 more posts about that shopping mall, I might save that for later.
First of all, before anything started I had to try my finds from yesterday so here it is: Introducing the wonders of BB cream!
Today I really realised just how much Korea is the world’s center for beauty products, I had a hunch of it before, but today I got confirmation. It all started when we went to Myeungdong.
At first I was paranoid about having used a lot of money so I needed to get some at the ATM before I could calmly walk and enjoy the streets of Myeongdong. I thought it would be difficult to find an ATM that took foreign VISA cards, but actually it wasn’t at all: almost all banks do once you go into the bank. And that is what you get for surfing the net too much. It’s the same when you get sick: don’t turn to the internet, then you just start to believe that you have all kinds of terrible illnesses when really all you have is a cold. Oh well, all for the better then. And just in case I wouldn’t be able to find a bank for a while I took out extra money so I should have for a while.
After getting money from the bank we ended up very close to a famous Korean church. So of course we went up the hill to see the inside. When we reached the top of the hill Kiki, who had been there before, told me that the decorations where different from usual and we soon saw the many flower decorations and realised that there was a wedding going on inside. Just outside the church there were many Ajhumma’s (old Korean ladies) earing Hanbok’s (traditional Korean dresses). Then after a few more minutes we figured out that it was an open wedding so we went inside to see the married couple and the ceremony.
Nevertheless, Myeongdong was quite an amazing place. I have never before seen so many foreigner’s the same place in Korea before, it was quite crazy, in almost every shop there would be a foreigner: I started to feel slightly scared. And then I realised: I am a foreigner as well. And here I always will be a foreigner no matter if I live here for 20 years or more I will still be a foreigner in the eyes of a Korean. Kiki and I both lined up to get some beauty product samples but they told me: ‘only Koreans’ but gave a sample to Kiki, then I realised: not being asian means that I will always be a foreigner: always be an alien.
Back to Myeongdong. It is a very busy places with many many different shops both street shops and shops in buildings on all floors. It seem like there is always something going on Myeondong and it has a very cosy feel to it. We bought some fries on the street. And now all my readers are probably thinking: fries, in South Korea? did she go to South Korea to eat that kind of Western food? Well let me finish: we bought Sweet Potato fries! They are very different from normal fries and somehow taste healthier because there isn’t as much oil on them. We shared a bucket and went around Myongdong just window shopping.
Before I go on to talk about other parts of Seoul I just want to briefly talk about beauty in Korea. It is a concept that seems to be so deeply grown into their culture that it almost seems scary to a foreigner. all over subways and the city there are adds for plastic surgery (that is very popular in South Korea), it is seen as something quite normal to get plastic surgery, especially on the eyes. Korean’s have a tendency to want double eyelids (Western people like myself often have double eyelids where Asians mostly have single eyelids that make the eyes looks slightly smaller). Not only is plastic surgery big, diets are also very big. A lot of girls here are on diets even though they are already very very thin from a western perspective, they seem to seek perfectionism in all aspect but mostly in appearance. Fashion of course is also very important and the make-up industry in Korea is huge and everywhere. The BB cream that I introduced earlier, for example, has three very important and interesting things written clearly in English on the front. First of all it has sunscreen in it, what is more it is anti-wrinkling and whitening (as in makes your skin whiter if you use it a lot, think Michael Jackson in a small healthy make-up bottle) as well as anti-darkening. basically these three things mean the same thing: this product will make your skin white, very white! Being white, and almost pale, is seen as a sign of beauty in Asia but particularly in Korea. This is a very different concept from the western world where girls tend to go to tanning centers to get darker skin.
White skin, Big eyes, Tall nose, Long legs: all seem to be symbols of beauty over here. Of course all countries have different symbols of beauty so there is nothing strange in this, the strange is in the methods used by many Koreans (mainly women) to fulfill these ‘requirements’ to become beautiful. For a while I thought that there was something desperate about the way they approach beauty as a must but as I see more of Korea I am starting to understand that there is more behind it than that. It is something buried so deep inside of many Koreans that I think many of them don’t even think about it. To take a quick example I have often heard about cases where parents have saved an amount of money for their daughter and when she reaches 18 they give it to her so she can get plastic surgery on her eyes.
When I have seen more of South Korea and gotten to understand more about Korea and it’s culture I WILL elaborate on this topic, but for now let’s leave it here and move on.
First of all in a Korean supermarket there are people with taster’s at almost every corner. Most people say that you should never shop on an empty stomach well having this many tasters means that Korean people fill up their stomachs as they shop so they don’t buy too many things that they don’t need. Also in a Korean Supermarket there are always people ready to help you and give you advice on what to get.
I discovered something quite unusual in the supermarket, and something that personally alarmed me a bit: lettuce grown inside the supermarket in front of the eyes of the shoppers. I am not quite sure I like the idea but then again I see the benefit of getting completely fresh lettuce that then lasts longer because it hasn’t spent time on transportation, but is growing lettuce like this really healthy? I have my doubts.
In this Korean Supermarket (and maybe also others) you leave your other shopping bags in a box where you take the key with you as you shop in the supermarket. Even though the concept of a box to store one’s things in isn’t foreign, the idea of it being such a casual thing to do even in a Supermarket is.
And last (but certainly not least, this is the thing I’ve been dying to talk about the entire day): the Danish Seoul.
The next one is quite puzzling: Denmark Banana Milk. When thought this my first thought was: Does Denmark even have Banana milk? I had no idea what it was before I started to like and research things about Korean culture. I have been puzzled by this ever since, in any case I don’t particularly think that Denmark is known for Banana milk even if it exist.
The third one is a classic: Danish butter cookies: apparently these nice biscuits are well known all over Asia as I have had several Asians tell me that they know them from back home, the only thing is that they are more expensive here than in Denmark (and have a quite fancy packaging). But I thought it was still an intersting Danish find so I put it up.
The last one I briefly want to introduce made me laugh when I saw it: Coffee from Denmark! As though Denmark was well known for it’s coffee. No Italian coffee, just Danish coffee (and quite a lot of it) another small find I still feel puzzled by and will keep an eye on, to, maybe someday, understand it.
Anyways that is all for today: I will see you all again tomorrow, until then be well!