Facing Nordkorean Soldiers

Today we took a trip organized by KORIDOOR to the South- and Northkorean borderline known as the DMZ, which stands for “demilitarized zone”. The alarm went in the early morning at 5:30 am after 2.5 hours sleep. *yawn* As it was snowing it was not clear if we would be able to have a good view to Northkorea. With the tour bus we made our way to the first stop. The schedule for the tour looked like below mentioned:

07:30 : Departure from Camp Kim USO
09:00 : 20 Minute Briefing at Ballinger Hall in JSA and then tour to the JSA area
11:20 : The Third infiltration Tunnel, Dora observatory
12:30 : Lunch at a Korea Restaurant.
13:30 : Dorasan Station.
14:00 : Departure to Camp Kim USO
15:30 : Arrive at Camp Kim USO

Unfortunately we had to cancel the Dora observatory as it was still closed after the last shooting in November. We were told that this was actually the first weekend where the tour was reopend.
At the JSA area, which you can see in the picture on the left, we were allowed to enter the blue building. Within it, we were able to pass the boarder and go to the Northkorean side. But we were told to not come too close to the Korean soldiers! They are in a taekwondo position and would have had to hit us if we would not have keep the safety distance. You can find pictures of the whole tour in the gallery.
At Dorasan Station, which is the train station connecting the south with the north I got a Northkorean stamp into my passport – so lets figure out if I will have problems when traveling in future. ;)

If you would like to get a small insight of how it is like to visit the DMZ and what it is expected to be like in Northkorea I recommend you watching “The Vice Guide to North Korea“, a very interesting documentry of Americans finally visiting the crazy northern part of Korean.

2010 MelOn Music Awards

The 2010 MelOn Music Awards took place at the Kyung Hee University. All famos Korean music stars were present and performed live on the most phenomenon stage I have ever seen. Actually I should have been studying but as we were unexpectedly told about the award festival we droped our books and ran to the concert hall to find out if we can enter. Fianally – we could! An we enjoyed an amazing evening watching DJ Doc, 2NE1, Girls’ Generation, T-ara and many more. Get a small insight:

Crazy flight to Tokyo

Yesterday we started our trip to Japan. In a group of 6 people we experienced a very funny flight to Tokyo. The flight took off form Incheon. But already at the check in we took longer than usual as Kimberly had no multiple entery visa for Korea. That ended in a long discussion with the airport employee but finally it was no problem as people from Sweden do not need a multiple entery visa. Unfortunately the airport personal did not know that. After the check in we went to eat and prepared early engough for boarding – at least we thought. ;) Because it was time for the plain to leave the airport at the time when we appeard at the custom control. Therefore the airplain crew was already waiting for us und one stewardess joind us running to the gate. When we arrived at the plain everyone else was already sitting on their places – that somehow reminded me of the flight from Munich to Seoul, where we even missed the security instruction! ;) The flight itself was very nice and we even got something to eat during the 1.5 hour flight. But due to the weather conditions we had a very turbolent flight so we more or less felt like beeing in a rollercoaster and enjoyed the weired feeling falling into air holes. Finally after a safe landing in Tokyo and leaving the plain Philipp could not find his passport anymore. We knew that there was not much time left until the last possibility to get into town would be gone. Therefore we looked everywhere but could not find it. He then went back to the plane. When he came back he did not look relaxed anymore as the plane was already gone!
Luckily we had one of the last flights arriving in Tokio and the chance was hight that the plane still was somewhere on the ground. The airport personal was very helpful and within 10 minutes Philipp was smiling again. Getting through the custom control in Tokio was the next barrier to manage, and that actually showed up to be very thought. The frist problem was that Mike‘s colleague Paul, who lives in Tokyo organized the hotel for us. Therefore we did not know the address that we where especially asked for to mention on the formula. After some discussion Paul‘s phone number was enough and we thought – that was it. But no! Inga and Johannes did not appear… and not appear… and not appear. In the meantime we met Paul who already got a bit nervous because of the last bus running soon…
After several minutes Inga and Johannes stept out of the custom control with a big smile in their faces. Inga had problems entering Japan as she mentioned Paul on her form. The custom personal therefore asked her in detail who he is and what he does here. The issue was that Inga did not even know Paul and had no idea. ;)
We finally made it to our hotel, guided by Paul who told us many interesting facts about Japan and the japanese lifestyle already.

Kyung Hee University gives the all-clear

All exchange students just received the following email from the Office of International Affairs at the Kyung Hee University:

“This mail is sent on behalf of my office, OIA, to make you feel better and sate. I know the whole situation is not easy to deal with.

But anyway finally the fire is settled down, and lots of analysts said it is a provocation for NK to show off they’re still and strong even thou its leader will be changed soon.
It might have been worsen into a fight, but it didn’t, eventually and the situation seemed controlled and settled.
Therefore what OIA asks you is please don’t put yourselves in panic, don’t be over-worried. And to make sure that your parents won’t worry, please mail them you’re safe here.
Kyung Hee hasn’t been notified any alert from Korean government so it’s not a big problem to be in panic.”

Therefore it is not expected that there will be more fighting activities at the moment – neither form the North nor from the South Korean side.

North Korea is attacking us

Since today afternoon North Korea is attacking South Korea. According to my colleagues here, and what we also noticed, there have always been smaller shootings at the border. But this time the attacks are unexpectedly strong. Please read more at The Korea Herald newspaper. Accoring to my home local news web site vol.at the attack took place on Yeonpyeong island at around 14:34 p.m.

View Larger Map

The alert phase here in South Korea is high and I was just informed that some of our Korean friends were enlisted by military. There are whispering voices that say that South Korea is going to strike back tonight. – And I was trying to register for the DMZ tour for this weekend. Luckly there was no space in the bus anymore!
Today it seems as if the moods of the people is calming down. Many are still watching the situation fiecely while others think that the attackes were just pushed by media. I personally think that nothing additionally will happen and that the situation will cool down within the next weeks. But all we can do is waiting and go on as usual.

I will keep you up to date as good as possible.

Austrian Food in Korea

Who would have expectet that?! There is an Austrian butcher who runs his own Austrian restaurant “Chef Meili Deli & Restaurant” in the heart of Seoul. Reason enough for us to check the food at this restaurant in Itaewon. Ok, we were served by Koreans and the food was chooked by a German chef as “Chef Meilinger”, the popular Austrian chef is called, was not in the restaurant but the food was really delicious. Philipp meant: “I am cloase to tears.”, because the food reminded him of his mum’s food. Therefore if you are Austrian and you visit Seoul Meili’s is definately a place you should not miss. Some pictures of the delicious experience can be found here.

Advertising Award for OMICRON Lab

OMICRON Lab was honored with the Advertising Achievement Award of the NASA Tech Briefs for its half page advertising on the B-WIT 100. The award is based on a readership servey performed by NASA Tech Briefs commissioned Lion Associates. Those gave especially high scores to the OMICRON Lab advertisement for the “Readership Scores” as well as for the “Recognition Scores”.

I am very proud of the award as I was responsible for this B-WIT advertisement and I would never have expected it. Many thanks to Bianca and Baumi for the great teamwork! – Keep on Rocking! ;)

Dining at Hilton Seoul

At the 26th of October, the Austrian National day, the Austrian embassy invited us for a dinner party at the Hilton hotel in Seoul. Well until we went I did not know anything about the location, therefore as you can see at the pictures I was a bit underdressed.
The food was prepared by an Austrian chef and we had everything from Gulasch with Sp√§tzle, Sauerkraut,… to Marillenkn√∂del with Vanille sauce and Krapfen. The dinner gave us the opportunity to meet very interesting people who have different connections to Austria.
The high light were some friends of international Students who brought their Lederhosn, an traditional Austrian men’s dress. But also some Korean women were wearing Austrian Dirndel – a nice symbol for the interconnection.
To me it was really funny that I had to go to Korea in to be invited for dinner by the Austrian state. ;) We enjoyed the evening a lot!

Most amazing firework ever seen

At the 9th of Oktober there was a grat firework in Seoul, Korea’s capital citiy. It was the highlight of the Hi Seoul Festival 2010 and the most amazing firework I have ever seen! The Festival itself took place during the whole week. It is described as the “feast of fantastic nonverbal performances” and was unfolded all over the city. According to the hosts during the festival the “streets become a moving stage, a city becomes a theater. That’s the city of Seoul that Hi Seoul Festival dreams of. Nonverbal performers from all over the world come thogether in one place.” Well I didn’t see any of the theaters but the firework really made masses move as you can see on the pictures in the gallery. Especially in the subway and the subway stations it was hard to find some spot to place your feet. There was no possibility of going your own way – everyone just got pushed with the flow of the mass. I wonder how many people ended somewhere the were not expecting to go. ;) So wether voluntarily or not, the whole town ended up at the Han river park and saw an unforgettable firework. Unfortunately by watching the video clip you cannt even imagin how big that firework was. But the amazing and combination of musik, firework and lightshow made it a breathtaking event.

Actor in a Korean Cooking Show

The third biggest TV-Channel KBS was searching for some foraign students to take part in their cooking show “Korean Food Expedition”. Due to a good cooperation with the International Office of the Kyung Hee University I was one of 5 people selected. The shooting took place at two locations and was lasting for 5 hours. First we were filmed preparing Jeongol, a korean stew, on our own in a studio at Dongdemoon. The two diffenrent kind of Jeongol where realy tasty. Afterwards we went to a restaurant at Lotte World in Sincheon that is specialized in preparing traditional Jeongol. One dish we got served was made of beef bowel – and we really had to eat that *yuk*. So we had a lot of fun but in the final video there are several funny scenes missing. Finally the scenes where turned around so that the story tells that traditional korean food is not the taste of most western foraigners. The aim of the show is to find out the taste of foraingners in order to internationalize Korean food.