Thursday, May 25, 2006


Hello, this is Niku and this is my first entry...a little scattered with packing, but I thought it important to give you some pre-Korea-conceptions...

It is the evening before our anticipated departure, questions and packing/repacking abound. As exciting as the journey ahead will be, this evening is more about anticipation, confusion and wonder. One of the bigger challenges will be packing light but packing the right things -- always a concern when traveling abroad.So, after many internet searches, asking every person of Korean descent and Korean traveler I've met and heard stories from (the last 2 days alone include Carol at the bank, Mike at the shoe store, Kim Abeles' husband [used to teach in Korea], a family friend also named Carol, my cousin Shahab - not to mention the plethora of students at CSUN, Yong, Jihyun, Sun), I've concluded, we are in for some hot, some temperate, and mostly humid weather mixed with a few days of drenching showers. We'll be experiencing fantastic foods full of flavor at every turn and beautiful textiles (handmade papers, fabrics, etc.).

And now for a touch of background...
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +9
South Korea borders: North (N. Korea), West (China, West Sea/Yellow Sea), East(Japan, East Sea/Sea of Japan), South (Korea Strait)
Currency: Republic of Korean Won (W)
Electricity: 220V 60HzHz

Korea was first inhabited by tribes from central and northern Asia, Korean mythology dates this at ~2333 BC and in the 1st century AD, Goguryeo, Korea's first kingdom was formed. In the next four hundred years, in the period known asThree Kingdoms: Goguryeo (N), Baekje (SW) and Silla (SE) - arts and cultureabounded and Buddhism was introduced. In the early 13th century the Mongols invaded. After the collapse of the Mongol empire, came the Choson Dynasty and the creation of Korean script. Since that time Korea was repeatedly invaded and occupied by China and Japan until the end of WWII when the USA occupied the southern peninsula while the USSR occupied the northern - the war that followed (theKorean War) lasted until 1953. By the end of war the country was officially divided and millions had lost their lives. By 1972 the south declared martial law and spent the next decade+ between this and democracy. In 1998, president Kim Dae-jung a non-conservative began to lead South Korea into economic and democratic reforms. In 2000, in order to improve relations with the north, Kim made a historic visit to North Korea to shake the hand North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, and was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Korea has a republic government with a Prime Minister/Head of Government (LeeHae-chan) and a President/Head of State (Roh Moo-hyun). Despite all the years of occupation and war, South Korea, has managed to rebuild and maintain it's traditions while becoming one of the most significant international cities -- we look forward to seeing and experiencing it!

Tomorrow, the airport... & Friday evening (after a 17+ hour travel time) we'llbe arriving at our destination. Personally, I am excited to get to know my fellow travelers and the adventure we'll have ahead.

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