Thursday, July 28, 2011

Treasure hunting

Back home, one way my fella and I like to spend a weekend afternoon is browsing through a flea market. I both love and hate flea markets. On the one hand there's the cool antique type items like phones and record players and piles of used books that look as though they've been nestled in an attic somewhere, gathering a little dust but in nice enough shape to move to a new home. And on the other hand there's the mounds of absolute junk that look as though they were finally chucked out of a smelly, dank basement and landed on a table five sizes too small to hold it all. I cringe away from the latter group but the former just keeps bringing me back.

So we decided to spend a Sunday checking out the Seoul Folk Flea Market and seeing what they had to offer. Unlike most flea markets which are open weekends only, the Seoul Folk Flea is open every day with the exception of two Tuesdays a month. The location is apparently fairly new which allows for tons of vendors so there is plenty to keep you occupied for a few hours. We made it there about mid-afternoon and surprisingly the crowd wasn't too bad so we took our time wandering for a while.
An antique Singer sewing machine! There's hope! Maybe this will be a flea market free of people's old shi-
... nevermind.
Though we do like to look through everything, we both have certain items in mind when searching through a flea market. He looks for video game related things- controllers, games, systems, etc.- while I hunt for old VHS tapes of Disney movies. And yes, my search actually is that specific. You know the ones I'm talking about, not just those tapes that come in the plain cardboard sleeves but the totally 90s Disney boxes that are big and plastic and white and awesome. Of course I already had a handful that we actually bought when I was growing up but after finding a few for cheap at this record/movie store by our college campus that we'd frequent, I got it into my head to track them all down.

So naturally, since we were at a flea market, I was hoping to find maybe a movie or two hidden among all the clocks and paintings and golf clubs but I didn't have high expectations... until we turned a corner and saw this:
A seriously amazing collection of VHS tapes in good if not great condition! They even had tapes of new movies that aren't even released on VHS in the US anymore. I couldn't even decide what I wanted. Sure I have almost all Disney movies in my collection now but these ones have Korean covers and the novelty of such small things never ever wears off for me. But of course I couldn't buy them all and I'd never have been able to choose so what we ended up buying instead was The Dark Knight. We love it because, well first because we are VHS nerds, but also because it's on two tapes and so you get the cover with Batman as well as the cover with the Joker and the title is written out in Korean and just looks badass. Plus it's not a bootleg or anything but in a legit Warner Brothers case and on Warner Brothers tapes. It came out to be about five bucks so it was a sweet deal too. I know I'll be back at this booth before I go home to bulk up my collection! 

Our only other purchase of the day was a lens protector cover thing for my new camera. It was way cheap and the seller was really helpful so I may return there as well to look for some other camera doodads. Though we didn't end up with much it was a pretty cool place and if you're on the look-out for something totally random it's worth checking the flea market for it. 

Afterwards we went to Cheonggyecheon, which is this area running through the city that was recently restored to be a sort of public recreation place. There's a long stream and walkways and so we sat for a bit with our feet in the water.
On our way back to Incheon we stopped off in Yongsan to check out a store in the I Park Mall that I knew Mike would appreciate. Except my attempts to make it a surprise were spoiled since there were signs for it everywhere but anyway:
Like a kid in a toy store. Literally ♥

After that we headed outside to the DVD booths and bought about 50,000 won worth of movies and TV shows. I didn't mean to get so many but the guy was really friendly and kept suggesting Korean movies and I just kept saying, "Okay, why not?". Plus he threw in an extra movie for free at the end and gave us vitamin drinks while we were waiting for them to bag it all. Those movies and shows kept us entertained for the past month so it was worth it. 

I'm pretty sure this day ended with pizza and a movie, which is always a good way to top things off. This was one of my favorite days from his visit because it felt just like the sort of way we would spend a day back home. I'm already looking forward to doing this again some Sunday next summer!

Trivia of the Day: Organized by the state owned Korea International Travel Company, Tourism in North Korea is highly controlled by the government, and as such it is not a frequently visited destination — roughly 1,500 Western tourists visit North Korea each year, along with thousands of Asians. Tourists must go on guided tours and must have their tour guides with them at all times. Photography is strictly controlled, as is interaction with the local population. Prior to 2010, tourists holding United States passports were not granted visas, except during the Arirang Festival mass games. U.S. citizens, journalists and citizens from other nations have also been given special permission to enter as members of the Korean Friendship Association and Choson Exchange. Citizens of South Korea require special permission from both governments to enter North Korea, and are typically not granted such permission for regular tourism except in special tourist areas designated for South Koreans. In April 2010, the first tourist trains from China brought visitors to North Korea for a 4-day tour. In June 2011, Chinese citizens were allowed on a self-drive tour in North Korea for the first time in history.

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