various Seoul scenes today

Today was election day, which is an official holiday here. Government, schools, post offices, and banks are closed, but everything else was of course booming. Not a bad day to check out the city when people are afoot.

There is an ice rink set into the large green in front of City Hall. I was surprised to see the kids all wearing helmets. Note the big bin of helmets in front.



It all seemed very safe and thus very American to wear a helmet. But do kids in the US do this? I don't know. I was surprised to see it here of course because bicyclists don't wear helmets and because kids don't sit in car seats. Most of the ones I have seen are in the front seat, on their parent's lap. Easier that way to get through the windshield, I guess.

When it got dark downtown there is quite an elaborate Christmas light display going on along Cheonggye Stream for several blocks. Christmas is really impossible to escape in the center of Central Seoul (though it is bustling life as usual in the rest of the central part).


There were mobs of people, on the street and below street level at the stream, lots of TV cameras too. A touristy thing to do, no doubt, but somehow we ended up on the end of it and were compelled to walk through. Surprisingly, there were zero noticeable police, no barricades, and the whole thing was very orderly.

The light displays were corporate sponsored, so they featured corporate logos. One was sponsored by the city of Seoul. The thing I find most interesting is that the logo and the slogan are in English. This is a ubiquitous logo, it is on cabs and other places all over the city.



So many signs in the city are in English, it is fascinating. Even the subway/bus electronic cards are called "T Money Cards". Some very common places, such as convenience stores like Family Mart, only have their names in English. It is an interesting phenomenon. I will be interested to see if this is the case in Busan, where we will be traveling shortly.

As usual, Lark was a big hit and several people asked to pose in pictures with her. What they will do with this picture I can't imagine. Maybe sell it when she is President.

One cool thing were these impressively large touchscreens featuring different images of parts of Seoul.



Santa was down the street. Santa is evidently a gringo over here too.



Lark was a bit underwhelmed at her first sighting of Santa in the plastic flesh.



More interesting than the Christmas lights was this upended cow over in Jongno.



Here is a semi-permanent homeless encampment in a subway station. Note the guy's head in his home.



Here is a view from the other side, one of them had a little blanket as door.



You don't see too many homeless here like you would in DC or New York, but there are some to be sure. What you definitely do not see are belligerent, drunk, or insane homeless people, which are often the norm in the US (or all three at once).

Here was a rather arresting image I saw on a magazine for sale next to Sogang. The title is in English but the rest if Korean, so I don't know what the story is about.

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