Down by the Riverside
The Riverside was busy this weekend and so were we. The warm weather this weekend brought a lot of people outside including us. We got some much needed exercise and fresh air.
We rode on the South side of the River near Gangnam. Across the River is Yongsan the place where the American Army base used to be in Seoul. In front of Seoul tower behind the apartments is the hotel that Joe Biden stayed in when he first arrived in Korea.
He seemed more interested in making business agreements than any political things in the area. It seems that mostly he enjoyed his stay here and there was no incident except right before he landed one of his boys started making trouble in the lobby. I guess that kind of thing happens. Full report from the Guardian here.
We all can't be perfect. I just enjoy the cool breeze coming off the river and the nice view. I ain't no fortunate one. We rented out bikes from Yeouido and the guy getting the bikes charges per hour. He took ten minutes to get our bikes out and the time was ticking. We brought the bikes back five minutes late and he charged us an extra two dollars for overtime.
My son told me we are not going to that guy again. There are plenty of other places to rent bikes.
In the evening we walked up the mountain on the North side of the city to get a better look at Seoul tower and to get another view. Here we are above the rive and above the city. This is our favorite mountain and one of the best places to just forget about things.
In the past only a few hikers would visit these places but now they are overgrown with yuppies. There aren't many kids running around as there used to. I guess that is good for some people, but for my son it is pretty lame. He is only in sixth grade of elementary school but most of his friends are busy studying in special after school institutes called "Hakwons". They don't have the time to hang out or ride bikes or just goof around. They are all on a schedule.
It seems that the only ones who actually have freedom in Seoul are the dogs. They are treated really well and the people call the dogs "children" and the actual human children they call "puppies". It's like the world is upside down. The dogs hand out at the park and play ground. The dogs ride in strollers while their "mommies" push them through the park. But when it comes to human children they leave them at some institute and give them a crick in the neck from studying so much.
It's not like these kids will actually get anything out of all this studying. They might get into a good school and graduate and get a lousy job at best. It would be better if kids were able to learn some social skills and just get out and play. It would do their lungs better if they got outside once and a while.
The most difficult obstacle I have in teaching classes is social problems among students. They don't know how to play or get along with others. One of the essentials of English conversations is talking to another human being. But whenever these kids meet they freak out and complain. I am considering having them complete the dialog with their pencil case rather than having to do pair work.
The other obstacle is confidence. Many lost confidence and think they cannot study English and just give up and work on other subjects.
One of my favorite subjects is lunch. We had dimsum for lunch. It's not Korean food, but it is a very good snack in the middle of the day.
After lunch my oldest son talked about going to the army. He is getting close to the point where he needs to make a decision. If he doesn't go to the army within two he then he will have to give up his Korean citizenship.
The laws may change this September and we are watching closely. His generation is the first generation with this many multi nationality citizens. Most of the multi cultural families are poorly represented. And we don't have time on our side. It's a tough decision for a kid to carry a gun or go back to live with grandma and grandpa in the states.
Sometimes it is better to be a dog.