This is my third time living in or around Seoul, and you would think I would have been to all the historical sites in Seoul. Sadly, this is no the case, but fortunately I was able to check one more thing off the list yesterday. Yesterday, I went to Namdaemun (남대문).
I actually feel kind of guilty that I hadn’t ever been to Namdaemun before. I kind of figured that is has been around for 6o0 years, and it isn’t going anywhere. I mean, it has survived longer than the Joseon Dynast, made it through two Japanese invasions, and a civil war that left most of Korea completely devastated.
Sadly, I was wrong. In 2008 a 69 year-old man upset about the sale price of some of his land to developers decided to teach those developers a lesson and burn down a national monument. Wait, what? Isn’t this like being mad at the person you sold your house to, and to get back at them, you burn down the white house?
Fortunately, it is being rebuilt. Also fortunately, the Namdaemun Market is still operational. It is a market where you can buy just about anything. Want fresh vegetables? Namdaemun Market. Cheap Shirts? Ties? luggage? Socks featuring Korean celebrities? Fake Rolex? All can be found in the Namdaemun Market.
I had been bringing my backpack to work this entire time, and I had been feeling sort of out of place. I mean, if you think about it, what lawyer is complete without a briefcase. Seriously, a briefcase is named after the documents that lawyers carry around all day. I figured that Namdaemun was as good a place as any to try and pick up a bag.
I wandered around the market for a while, just taking in all the sights and sounds. Also, I enjoy it when Koreans try (in English) to get me to buy stuff. After a while, I found a bag shop that looked to have a pretty good selection of briefcases. I went in and asked to see some briefcases that I would be able to carry my laptop in.
He proceeded to show me a couple of laptop bags, but they weren’t much more professional than a backpack. I told him I worked in an office and needed something more “officey.” He then showed me a couple more bags that were very nice, explaining that these were $30-$50 depending on what I wanted. I finally asked if he had anything in leather.
He showed me some bags and I found one that I liked. I asked how much it was, and he said that he could give me a good price. Only $130. To be fair, that is a good price for a leather briefcase, but I’m cheap; I can probably count the things I own that cost more than $100 on one hand. He was telling me about how it was Korean made, and high quality, and totally worth the price. I told him I was duly impressed, but I wasn’t going to pay that much. We argued about the price for a little while, and finally, he said that he could do $50.
$50 for a real leather suitcase is a steal. But I only had $20 with me. I told him it was indeed a great price, but I’d have to come back another day, or look at other some other shops to see what I could get. He then said he could do it for $35. That is when i told him, “look, I seriously only have $20 with me!” and I showed him my wallet (pro tip: only keep as much as you want to spend in your wallet).
He started to say that if I only had $20, then I should look at the fake leather bags, and he started giving me a hard time. Finally his boss, who was eating dinner in the same room we were in said, “Just do it!”
And that, my friends, is how you get a $130 bag for $20. To be fair, this is the greatest percentage discount I’ve been able to get compared to the original price quoted, and I don’t expect that to happen every time. But still, I was pretty proud of myself.
One thing I like about WordPress is that it gives me all sorts of statistics. From the fact that I keep an Excel spreadsheet of the books I’ve read, you probably know that I like having statistics. Among the many things WordPress tells me is the number of search engine terms that bring people to my blog.
Not surprisingly, most searches are for books – occasionally I get a search for something specific to me, like “bwun,” but these are rare. The #1 search engine term that leads people to my site is…
…with 960 incoming readers (temporary though they surely are).
To give you an idea how many hits that is, the next most common term is “fablehaven,” with 360 links. From there it drops down to 184 for “the mysterious benedict society” and 183 for “diary of a wimpy kid rodrick rules.”
I can’t ever decide if I feel useful, for writing something that people were searching for information about, or irritated, because it turns out they were usually just looking for an image of the book cover. Oh well.
Welcome, either way. Enjoy your (brief) stay.