Friday 15 July 2022

So long ago and so far away. Psy.

It's likely that, in an attempt to leave you feeling slightly less gloomy at the end of today's inevitably depressing news, the presenters will have drawn to your attention the fact that it's the ten-year anniversary of the release of 'Gangnam Style'. The YouTube views are up to 4 billion, so there's no doubt at all that you now have that catchy tune buzzing in your head, and can see Psy bouncing along to the rhythm, wrists inexplicably crossed.

The song was an instant hit, so it was no surprise to come across a huge, golden statue of those hands when I did a quick trip to Seoul in 2019. It was towards the end of my visit there, courtesy of Air NZ, who were about to start flying that route, and we'd done all the proper stuff - culture, architecture, national dress, all sorts of wonderful food, history, even a trip to the DMZ. We were finally let loose and I spent the last afternoon doing something authentically Korean - after visiting a reptile café (lizards, tortoises and snakes in cages and enclosures, more of a  pet shop-cum-coffee bar, no handling going on), prowling round a shopping mall, and getting a taste of K-pop.

The Starfield Mall - in the Gangnam district - is both huge and beautifully presented, full of tempting shops (including Uniqlo, yay!), a 16-screen cinema, an aquarium, an atrium public library with a grand piano, a gorgeous coloured glass artwork, and a stage across which a series of K-pop groups paraded in a free concert.

The big statue was outside, near a food truck called Luxury Bear - after my tour that morning through a busy food alley, where there were live eels in tanks and octopus hanging from hooks, I was wary, but it turns out they just do pizza. Then I had to go to the airport to fly home, after too short a time in Seoul - there's a lot to see and enjoy there. Would go again. One day.

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