Our second day in Seoul was where things started coming off the rails a bit. Either due to dehydration, jet lag, or a combination of both, I woke up with a sore throat. Not great. This was also the day that we had the most planned after taking it a little easier on our first day. We also started getting these emergency alerts on our cell phone the night before and they continued all morning.
The alert told us nothing (that we could understand), so after some online research we found out that Seoul was under a typhoon warning. Typhoon Lingling had hit the Philippines and Japan and was headed to the Korean Peninsula. Mike and I discussed at length what this meant and how serious this was – was it like a tornado warning in the Midwest, where you get the notification and do nothing? Or was it something more serious that we needed to plan for? Ultimately, we decided to just go explore and adjust our plan if needed.
Our first stop was Gyeongbokgung Palace. We got there when it opened and it was incredibly impressive. There were some menacing storm clouds in the sky, too, which made for some great pictures! The Gyeongbokgung Palace dates back to the 1300s but was destroyed by Japan several different times over the years. They continued to rebuild and the most recent restoration of this historic palace began in 1990.
After walking around for a bit, we wanted to go see the changing of the guards ceremony in front of the palace. We went to go ask someone where to go and they told us that they were closing at 10am due to the typhoon. They went further to say that all of the national parks in Seoul were closing early due to the typhoon. Mike and I exchanged looks and thanked the woman for letting us know. We left, since it was 10am, and tried to find more information online about the typhoon. Was it just going to be windy? Rainy? Dangerous? We couldn’t really find anything either way, but we knew we needed to adjust our plan. We had another palace and a cable car ride on the schedule and we knew neither of those would be open. We decided to venture to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which is a neofuturistically designed building. It was massive! It started raining while we were there and the wind picked up a lot, so we decided to head to the War Memorial of Korea. We figured that since it’s indoors, it wouldn’t be affected by the typhoon.
If you are ever in Seoul, go to this museum. It’s so well done and it was the first time (of many) on our trip that I realized how little I know about world history. The museum was laid out so that there were different rooms for all of the major parts of Korean history. We learned that the North vs. South division dates back to the 6th century when there were dynasties ruling in the Korean Peninsula. For Mike and I, the most interesting part of the museum was the part about the Korean War. There were so many displays honoring those who fought in South Korea’s defense, and the whole exhibit was sobering. Perhaps the most poignant part of the museum for me was The Drop. Pictures are below, but they don’t do it justice. It was a bundle of dog tags shaped as a tear drop in a circular room. When you’re in the room, you hear a water droplet and look down and a name would come “up” from the projected “pool” of water below. The names were those who perished while fighting the Korean War. It was powerful.
After we walked through the museum, we went outside to check out the exhibits. It was still very windy, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the monuments outside. Once we were done, we headed back to the hotel. I was feeling worse by the hour, so between the typhoon and my cold, this day was not what we had planned. The most important thing to me was to get some kind of cold medicine. However, I had no idea what to look for! Luckily, we went to a 7-Eleven and they had Pan Cold A, which if the name wasn’t convincing enough, the packaging definitely was!
This stuff was an absolutely magical elixir – it had all the ingredients of Mucinex, Tylenol, Robitussin, and Sudafed in a nice liquid form. You are supposed to drink one bottle every eight hours or so. By the time we were getting ready to fall asleep, I was definitely running a fever. This medicine was a lifesaver!
Overall, we had a great second day in Seoul – sure, the typhoon derailed things and it always sucks to be sick, but sometimes those end up being the best memories! The storm clouds from the typhoon made for some amazing pictures and if I hadn’t gotten a cold I wouldn’t have been able to experience Pan Cold A! Plus, Mike and I can now say that we survived Typhoon Lingling!
This monument depicts a moment during the Korean War in which two brothers, one fighting for North Korea and one fighting for South Korea meet on a battlefield.
This sculpture features two girls balanced on the ruins of weapons, tanks, and bombshells. Each holds a clock – one shows the current time and the other shows the time when the North Koreans invaded the South on June 25, 1950. There is a third clock not pictured – a plaque reads that when the North and South are reunited, that clock will depict the time when Korea is reunified and will replace the clock showing the current time in this scuplture.