Today in Seoul 33: The view from behind the shades

November 16, 2016

I wore sunglasses when we first got here, out of a Colorado high altitude habit. I quickly learned I don’t really need them, not with the tall buildings, narrow streets, and the usual haze (smog), but I keep wearing them for another reason: privacy. I can see why they’re big in Hollywood. They deflect the stares, make them less intrusive. Plus they give me more freedom to do my own looking. On the way to the gym today, I noticed percentages. What percent of Koreans dress mostly in black? 85–90% I’d say, and those who wear colors are split about 50/50 between men and women. Black is also the 100% choice for eyeglass frames. What percent smokes? Hard to give a number, but it’s high — especially the men. They light up out in the street, and if there’s a designated smoking area outside a building, they fill it. I did some noticing at the gym, too. (Where I don’t wear my shades.) Sports of choice on the gym TV’s these days? Golf, especially when national hero Shi Hyun Ahn is playing. (She made a splash as the youngest non-American winner of an LPGA event in 2003, at age 19.) V-League Volleyball is big, too — men’s and women’s. Their season corresponds with college basketball’s. It looks like each team gets to have one Anglo ringer — they’re a head taller, and do a lot of spiking. And how many verses in the Korean national anthem? They were singing it at some government function today, with lots of military images playing on a big screen. There are four verses — each one ends with, “Great Korean people, stay true to the great Korean way!” It’s quite stirring — you might Google it.