We went for a walk this evening. We were walking down a typical street in Seoul, S. Korea, and I decided to take you with me. I took pictures of the businesses as we walked. I have thought about doing this before, and this evening, I finally did it. This will give you an idea what a normal street in Seoul is like.
The towels drying in front of the barber shop.
The hair shop for the women next door to the barber shop.
There was a clothes drying wrack in front of the women’s hair shop too.
The first thing I saw was the clothes drying wracks out in front of the barber shop. Men also go to the women’s hair shops, but this one specializes in men. Next to the barber shop, there was also a place for women to get their hair done, and they had their clothes drying wracks full of small towels too. These wracks are always in front of the hair shops here.
It is 7:00 Saturday evening, and the real estate agent next door is closed. About every other business sometimes is a real estate agent. (boodong san)
You always have to include the cell phone stores. There are cell phone stores on every street corner too.
There are always open doors with stairs you can go inside up or down to go to businesses. This one has Kyobo Bookstore downstairs, the largest chain of book stores, and great book stores. To one side of the door, you can see a sign that reads in Korean “Haleen.” That means there is a discount. Koreans are really into sales. It is almost like a game here, and the people fall for it and love it. There are businesses up and down those stairs. The bookstore is downstairs.
Here is another open door with stairs. If you look at the yellow sign on the top, there is a private music school here. Private schools of all kinds are very common, especially to learn English. This one could be a piano school since they have a picture of a piano, and the piano schools have several small rooms with a piano in each room where students go to take piano lessons. However, if you look at the other sign on the right, it says “Dream Studio, one on one,” and there is a picture of drums, so perhaps this music school teaches more than piano.
Here is another open door with stairs. If you look at the sign on the left, it says there is a church that meets in this building. I could have taken lots of pictures of churches this evening because there is at least one or two on every block. If you look at the sign on the right, it says you can get saxophone lessons on the third floor. The name of the school is “Airport Saxophone” because this street is just a few blocks from an airport.
Next to the entrance way that has the sign for a church, there is a cleaners. The cleaners also say they do shoes.
Next, we see a Korean “Super.” A “Super” is a small convenience store, but the call them “Super.” You can see out front that there is a freezer where they keep ice cream bars. These “Supers” are very common throughout Korea,and so are the freezes full of ice cream bars. Koreans are really into ice cream. You can find Baskin Robbins in every town in Korea.
Next, we went past a hanbok shop. A hanbok is traditional Korean clothing. If we had come during the day, this shop would have been open, and we could have seen manikins in the windows wearing the hanboks, but there are pictures here of people in hanboks.
This free standing sign says, “Nore Bang.” Nore bangs are very common. We passed many, but I didn’t take a picture of all of them. A Nore bang is a singing room. You can rent a small room with a karaoke machine, and only you and your friends go in, and you sing by the hour. Groups get together and take turns singing in the nore bangs. If you want to go, check them out first to make sure no one has been smoking in the room because it makes it hard to sing after they have smoked. Also, choose a nore bang that is upstairs, and not downstairs because the ones downstairs have dryer air, so your throat dries out. You have to be careful because not all nore bangs are created equal. If you go to a bad part of town which this isn’t, there may be call girls or drunk men in the nore bang. I haven’t seen them, but I have been told they go there in the bad parts of town. If a nore bang is a “nore yansub jang,” they have more children in them, and so wouldn’t be in the bad part of town. This one, though, because of the neighborhood, is fine.
There are always lots and lots of restaurants as you walk up and down the street, and they are always busy. Koreans don’t really cook very much. They like to go out to eat, and it is cheap. This one serves traditional Korean food. The sign at the top says “Yetnal” which means “from long ago,” or traditional.
At 7:00 on a Saturday evening, the banks are closed, but every bank has a small room that is well lit with ATM machines inside. The doors are always glass, so you won’t be in there where no one can see you which also makes it safer.
Here is a glass business next to the ATM machines.
Beauty is big business in Korea. Here is a nail salon.
Next, there is another restaurant. I didn’t take pictures of all the restaurants, but this one is special. Look on the sign at the top on the left. There is a little creature called a Tokebee. The name of the restaurant is Red Tokebee. The Tokebee is a mythical creature who runs around causing mischief. If you notice, this restaurant is closed too—at 7:00 on a Saturday evening? My daughter and I discussed it, and it is strange, but perhaps the owners want to get up early for church the next day. Churches are extremely common in Korea.
The “well being” restaurant is closed too. “Well being” food is extremely popular in Korea. It is a more modern idea. You can buy “well being” food in the grocery stores too. The “well being” food is like health food, and it is very popular in Korea.
This is a free standing ATM machine just standing in front of a store out on the sidewalk. These are in many places, and it doesn’t matter which bank you use, you can use it if you understand the Korean.
Here is another convenience store, and this one specializes in selling lottery tickets.
Another very common kind of restaurant in Korea is the pizza place. Pizza places are everywhere. The young Korean people love pizza!
And, here we have a sign for a PC bang. A PC bang is a place that is full of computers that you can rent by the hour. Lots of kids like to hang out at these places and play computer games. They are very common. When we first came to Korea and I needed email, but didn’t have a computer yet, I would visit a PC bang to use a computer and send my emails. The Korean middle school boys are notorious for cutting school and spending their days at the PC bang.
Here is something new popping up all over Seoul. They are bicycles for rent. You put money in the machine and the bike comes loose. You can rent it, but when you are done, you have to return it to the same place you rented it from.
Here is a Daiso. A Daiso is like an American Dollar Store. They are small. They are everywhere, and they have all kinds of commonly used things from makeup, to cleaning products, to crafts supplies, to paper towels, to computer paper, etc. etc. etc. They are cheap too, cheaper than E-Mart, Home Plus, or Lotte Mart, the big chain department stores, but a lot smaller, and no groceries. You also see here a motor cycle that is for delivery right in front of the picture. Lots of businesses have delivery services in Korea, and it is delivered often by a guy on a motor cycle like this. Even McDonald’s and grocery stores deliver in Korea.
This is Lotteria. Loteria is a Korean hamburger chain. It is put together just like a McDonald’s or Burger King. It is a Korean knock off. The food is palatable, but it is not quite what the big name places are. It is made for Korean taste buds.
This is Nong Hyop. Nong Hyop is “Farmer’s Bank.” There are banks everywhere. This is just one kind of bank in Korea. Banks have a lot of functions in Korea that they don’t have in America. Besides having all kinds of bank accounts including savings. you also pay your bills at the bank and pay your parking tickets at the bank. When you get paid from your job, you can’t get paid if you don’t have a bank account because they automatically put your salary into your bank account. It is not a checking account because they don’t have personal checks in Korea like we have in America. Those ATM machines I showed you earlier get used a lot. but also, you usually have a debit card or a credit card to pay for things in Korea. It is the way things are done, and they usually prefer credit cards.
As we walked around the corner, there was a school on one side and apartment buildings on the other. You could see three different crosses lit up where churches meet. It was dark out, but we could still hear the voices of children outside laughing and happily playing. On the other street, we saw a man arguing with a taxi cab driver, and that is the worst we saw. The streets are peaceful and safe. No one is afraid to let their children play outside after dark. The nore bangs and PC bangs were probably full of children too. There was life all up and down the street where we walked. We were surprised to find some restaurants closed at 7:00 on a Saturday evening because some restaurants never close in Korea. In fact, many businesses won’t close all night long. Seoul is known at the city that never sleeps, and it is a very safe, happy city. I hope you enjoyed the walk.