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Tracing the entirety of the river are a variety of parks, bicycle paths, basketball courts and riverside cafes. It's my favorite place to hang out on a pretty day- perfect for picnicking, soaking up some sun or just going for a walk to enjoy the spectacular skyline of the city I've called home for the past five years.
What many visitors don't realize, however, is that there are a number of cruises that navigate the river and provide an entirely different perspective of the city's lights, landmarks and architectural feats. Recently, I was made aware of just how many cruise options there are. From dinner cruises to cruises that feature live performances, there's something for all tastes.
Funtastic Korea, an online ticket booking and tour service for foreigners makes it easy to reserve tickets for said cruises. Intrigued by the fireworks cruise, a ride that promises both beautiful night views and a show of lights, I reserved two tickets for my roommate, Marie, and I through the user-friendly site. I quickly received a confirmation via e-mail and printed my voucher- though its possible to save the image on one's smartphone- to receive our tickets on the day of our cruise.
We arrived at the Yeouido dock on the day of our cruise a half hour early, though 15 minutes is more than enough time to claim your tickets at the ticket booth. We had no problem getting our tickets using the voucher provided by Funtastic Korea. Marie and I then picked up some Hangang convenient store goodies (refreshments are not sold on all the boats), boarded at the terminal and headed up to the upper, uncovered deck for better views.
We regretted not getting in line earlier, as there are a limited number of seats on the top deck and missed out on the better ones. We didn't mind, though, as the entirety of the Seoul skyline could be seen from just about every part of the boat, including the lower, enclosed deck which is no doubt the preferred riding spot in the winter.
Soon enough, we were off. As we passed impressive buildings and under bridges, we were given an explanation in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese about the history of each major place we passed. It was informative and not overdone, as a good selection of contemporary, relaxing music played over the speakers in between explanations. Passengers consisted of mostly couples and families, creating a calm environment- there was no pushing or shouting and everyone seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.
About twenty minutes into the one hour ride, we stopped at Banpo Bridge to watch the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain show. Although I had seen this show before from the parks along the river, it was my first time seeing it on the river and being on the boat provided a unique perspective. There were a lot of oohs and ahhs as hundreds of tons of water spurted from the bridge, falling 65 feet into the Han, illuminated by colorful LED lights.
After the show, the boat made a U-turn and after passing the recently opened Floating Islands, the cruise attendant gave us a countdown. At zero, a boom sounded and blossoming fireworks appeared in the sky, their firey glow reflected in the water below. The show continued for about ten minutes and although it wasn't nearly as impressive as other fireworks shows I've seen in Seoul, it created a nice atmosphere and was definitely a highlight of the trip.
For the remainder of the ride, passengers were entertained by a humorous musician whose songs catered to all ages. Marie and I decided to stay on the top deck and were able to get better seats for the ride back. Although we are both long-term expats and have lived in Korea for quite some time, we both agreed that the ride only reminded us of what a beautiful city we live in and we both enjoyed seeing Seoul from the river that runs through it.
More Information: Hangang Firework Cruise
Time: Saturdays, 7:30p.m.
Price: 22,000 won/person ($22 USD)
Reservations: Book your tickets using Funtastic Korea's English ticketing service. Click here to reserve your tickets for this cruise, as well as many more.
Departure: From Yeouinaru Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), walk straight out of Exit 3 until you reach Yeouido Middle School. Turn left into the riverside park. Continue walking until you reach the water side. You should see the ticketing booth.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
I've been texting with his mother but we have problems understanding each other. My Korean is really bad, and she cannot understand a word of English. Its amazing how we can still text each other. I'm still missing him, and still feeling the same sense of loneliness as the first day when he entered military. I wonder how he is doing.
위장 means camouflage or disguise and 결혼 means marriage. In Two Weddings and a Funeral, the main characters have a 위장결혼식 to trick the world into thinking they are not queer (as you can imagine, it doesn't work out too well). The word can be translated as a marriage in disguise, sham marriage, or contract marriage.
위장결혼 are relatively common in Korea. Queercast's second episode had a segment on 위장결혼 and John Cho wrote an article on the phenomenon of contract marriages titled The Wedding Banquet Revisited.
The term recently was used in a report on sham gay marriages in the UK as a way to immigrate into the country. But it doesn't only need to be with same-sex couples; Korea Daily Los Angeles used the term in a report on fake marriages for citizenship reasons. Google image search has it connected to a lot of pictures dealing with female South-Asian brides and brokered marriages to Korean husbands.
If you don’t know H-Net, you probably should. It is a great way to keep up to date with what is being read and discussed in the humanities and social sciences. They seem to offer mostly book reviews and roundtables. I find them particularly good in my area – the intersection of history and political science. H-Net has a general qualitative bent also, so its reviews are mercifully readable.
Over the summer, they asked me to review Amitav Acharya’s book, The End of the American World Order. Here is the link to review on the actual H-Net site. I have re-printed it below. In brief, he argues that the US is in terminal relative decline, and that a world order without a domineering American role must be discussed. He sketches a few (unconvicing) alternatives.
And being the child of the 80s and its so-bad-it’s-awesome film, what image of American World Order could surpass Stallone beating the crap out of commies while draped in an American flag? Awesome! Go Rocko! I remember cheering in my seat when Rocky beat Drago. We won the Cold War and kicked some russki butt! Hah! I think I was 12. Good times, which I guess Acharya is taking away from us…
The End of the American World Order by Amitav Acharya is a punchy, trenchant critique of liberal internationalist and American hopes for a ‘sticky,’ post-American liberal world order. At a lean 120 pages, the book can be read in a weekend – a blessing in itself – and it usefully crystallizes an emergent but rather disjointed critique of the US liberal order floating around op-ed pages and universities outside the West. Unlike so many researching hegemony or unipolarity, Acharya does not believe the US will bounce back from its troubles over the last decade, does not especially want that either, and tries to sketch out alternatives to US-led order. Ideas for a ‘post-American’ world have been floating around for awhile, of course, but much of that focuses on reconstruction – trying to prop-up the US-led system with a wider variety of stakeholders beyond just the West. This is captured, for example, in the (generally failed) effort to make China and other G-20 states into ‘responsible stakeholders.’
Acharya will have none of that and so enunciates a little heard rejection of standard liberal world order prescriptions. And he goes beyond that to try to sketch alternative futures too – specifically a global concert, or much thicker regionalism. Whether you agree or not, this whole effort is very valuable. As Acharya notes repeatedly in the book, Westerners, especially Americans, tend to assume that the alternatives to a US-led world order are all much worse. Acharya calls this out as ethnocentric and narrow – Americans reading other Americans and then pronouncing to the world (p. 130, fn. 69; p. 138, fn. 6) – and it is hard to disagree with him if we look at our IR (international relations) graduate syllabi. His whole book reminds us in IR, and the western foreign policy community in general, that we really do not know as much about the non-Western world as we should, particularly given that we often suggest non-Western states should do this or that, or should otherwise happy living under American hegemony. IR is far too heavily based on modern and Western cases, and Acharya convincingly argues that this really limits our imagination for a post-American world order.
The book itself has six bite-sized chapters. This could easily be used for undergraduates. Between the introduction and conclusion, the four main chapters sketch: 1) the rise and fall of American post-Cold War hegemony; 2) the pleasing, self-congratulatory American myths about liberal hegemony; 3) the challenge of emerging states such as the BRICS or G-20 states to that order; and 4) the possibility of regionalism, specifically more coherent regional international organizations (IOs), to replace an American globalism in decline.
The argument moves quickly and covers a lot of ground. Indeed, the book’s biggest weakness is probably just how much Acharya is trying to cram into such a short volume. Many of his statements will provoke or challenge, and frequently they build on previously controversial arguments. In the end, there is such a cascade of contestable statements, one linked to another, that I imagine many IR readers will find themselves thinking, ‘hey, wait! flesh out point ABC before moving on to XYZ.’ Serious readers will almost certainly wish the book was longer.
The most controversial claim, of course, comes right off the bat – that the US is in sustained, irreversible relative decline, that unipolarity is ending as we speak, and that a post-American order will be needed shortly. Acharya clearly sees himself charting that future, but many IR theorists, not to mention just about every DC think-tanker, will stop him right at the beginning to argue that the US is not really in decline.
This is hardly the place to resolve that huge debate, but I agree that Acharya’s treatment of it is too blithe and short. He may indeed be correct – my own inclination is similar – but chapter 2, which covers this, is just 21 pages. Acharya’s primary causal mechanism is unilateral over-activity (p. 14). Unipolarity is not being undone by isolationist passivity or aggressive non-Western balancing. Instead, Acharya essentially applies Paul Kennedy’s notion of ‘imperial overstretch’: unipolar America, particularly under President Bush (II), has blundered a lot and is over-extended, provoking a lot of global resentment, damaging American soft power, and demonstrating that American hard power cannot actually change that much in tough places like the Middle East. Acharya seems to tilt toward Richard Haas’ notion of “nonpolarity”: the US may indeed have a large economy and military, but these traditional power attributes are just not that efficacious anymore. And when one looks at the US fighting in Iraq today yet again, or the chaos that ensued the ‘successful’ Libyan operation, one can see his point.
But obviously many would disagree. The book would have benefitted from a much sharper contest with writers like Joseph Nye, William Wohlforth, John Ikenberry, the Kagans, and the many others who see US power as fairly enduring. One alternative interpretation is to argue, as Steve Walt often does on his blog, that American misadventures actually demonstrate how powerful the US is. American campaigns in the Middle East are luxuries that no other state, not even China, could afford. Neoconservatives would likely argue that America is far more resilient that Acharya permits. The US has been a great power since the 1880s and has bounced back from troubles repeatedly in the past. Liberals would retort that Bush was only one president and that Obama has sought to reverse American soft power erosion.
The next big controversial argument comes in the following chapter – that US hegemony has not been nearly as benign and liberal as Americans like to think. This is almost certainly true. We can all think of bad US behavior, from the mundane, such as not signing UNCLOS while simultaneously insisting that China follow it, to the abhorrent, such as support for Mobuto Sese Seko, or Abu Ghraib. And it is also true that triumphalist American ideologues do not like to hear this. But once again, the response from neoconservatives and liberal internationalists is not hard to telegraph: Yes, the US has done awful stuff, but so have many other states, and all the challengers to the US in its great power history have been significantly more illiberal than America. Acharya would almost certainly agree that the world is a better place for the US victories in WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and the war on terror. Similarly with China in the future, I doubt that Acharya would prefer that China replace the US, even in the Asian region. Liberal hegemony may indeed be very American, reward America disproportionately, and give rise to offensive American gloating and self-congratulation, but such choices in world politics are always relative. Almost all of Acharya’s critics would say the alternatives to US power are much more unappealing.
Acharya’s response, in chapters 3 and 4, is to channel nonpolarity and argue that the alternative to the American world order is not a global hegemony of someone other than the Americans, but decentralization or perhaps multipolarity. In the place of the US world order, Acharya sees coming either a global concert – which would not just be a great power condominium, but include middle income and poor states as well – or a decentralized (‘multiplex’) world with organization coming organically from below in regional IOs.
Here again is big theoretical step guaranteed to provoke a heavy IR theory response. There is a lot of IR work suggesting that unipolarity makes the world safer, and that a global hegemon facilitates trade and growth. Acharya is aware of theories like hegemonic stability but does not convincingly refute them. He is perhaps too anxious to unseat the American dominance to see how hard bottom-up, organic cooperation among middle income states is likely to be. He does not contend with the basic game theoretic insight, for example, that more players makes coordination harder to achieve. He does not address the well-known problems of collective action. He says nothing of free-riding or buck-passing. Theories of hegemony and unipolarity posit that one state can carry these costs and help push fractious, self-seeking players toward consensus. I am extremely doubtful a global concert or regional organizations could do this; they certainly do not do so today. It is hard to imagine global free-trade, which has done so much to alleviate global poverty, surviving the regionalism Acharya foresees.
Acharya speaks hopefully of ‘open regionalism’ and ‘inter-regionalism,’ but these are weak conceptual and operational reeds. Inter-regional organizations are few, meet rarely, and are talk-shops. And the theoretical work on inter-regionalism is heavily normative. Open regionalism is something of paradox. For regions to become genuine order-bringing agents, they will eventually need rules and boundaries. Otherwise they are just talk-shops. Indeed, one can see this in Asia, which has a surfeit of IOs, but they are all shallow. APEC, ASEAN+3, the East Asian Community, and so on may indeed bring together elites to talk and pose for the ‘family photo,’ and that is better than nothing. But are these talk-shops really ready promote deep cooperation that generates real costs and benefits? Indeed, I think Acharya is missing a major point of most non-Western IOs: they are not intended to provide rules, open markets to trade, facilitate tourism, and so on. They are firstly sovereignty-reinforcement platforms for post-colonial, frequently non-democratic, elites. Sovereignty requires social recognition, so standing on a platform with other leaders and states, reinforces one’s own stateness.
Despite its many contestable propositions, Archarya’s book is easy to recommend. The volume of work in IR, both empirical and normative, supporting the perpetuation of American global dominance is overwhelming. That Acharya has written this book at all is useful in that context. He picks up and channels a non-Western critique that is out there, but few of us see due to our Anglo-American hermeneutic circle. This critique will pick up steam in the coming decades, as American relative decline continues. Within a decade, China’s GDP will exceed America’s, and the US will increasingly need to find a way to live with wealthy, capable, nationalist states from the former third world.
American power is unlikely to crack-up; the US is not Rome in the 5th century, or the Ming suddenly facing the Manchus. China’s future growth is unlikely to be as robust as it has been; demographic, environmental, and political constraints will tighten. India is decades behind. The G-20 and BRICS have not shown great solidarity. But the long-term trends nonetheless favor Acharya’s analysis. As more and more states become wealthier, stabler, and more capable, America’s room to move will contract, and the pressure to change global rules will only rise. Acharya is probably wrong today about the end of the America world order, but time is on his side.
 Robert Kelly, “Defining IR: Is it Asia’s Turn?” International Relations and Security Network, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, July 30, 2012; http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Digital-Library/Special-Feature/Detail?lng=en&id=150816&tabid=1453260368&contextid774=150816&contextid775=150815
 Robert Kelly, “Is there an Obama Doctrine?,” The Diplomat, September 22, 2014: http://thediplomat.com/2014/09/is-there-an-obama-doctrine/.
 Richard Haas, “The Age of Nonpolarity,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2008, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/63397/richard-n-haass/the-age-of-nonpolarity.
 Robert Kelly, “Agree with Heinlein’s ‘Citizens vs Civilians’? Then this US Military History is for You,” Duck of Minerva, June 24, 2013, http://www.whiteoliphaunt.com/duckofminerva/2013/06/agree-with-heinleins-citizens-vs-civilians-then-this-us-military-history-is-for-you-book-review.html
 Ethan Kapstein, ed., Unipolar Politics, NY: Columbia UP, 1999; Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, World Out of Balance: International Relations and the Challenge of American Primacy, Princeton: Princeton UP, 2008.
 I make this argument at length in Robert Kelly, “Security Theory in the ‘New Regionalism,’” International Studies Review, 9/2, 2007: 197-229
Filed under: Uncategorized
Queer Links from the Week: Korea University bans anti-gay discrimination, Seoul struggling to do the same, and Kinky Boots coming to Korea
In pop culture, Korean will have the first international staging of Broadway's Kinky Boots starting in December. O Man-seok, who will play drag-performer Lola, explains how the role is different than Hedwig (Korean). Hong Seok-cheon hits the news again in boring ways: on Witch Hunt he said calling G.NA his girlfriend is just a way to express friendship and he has been Instagramming with Actress Moon Chae-won. (Both in Korean). Seriously, googling 동성애자 뉴스 gets you some very boring news stories.
Who needs money anyway?
I generally try to prepare as little as possible in all aspects of my life. I tell others it’s more fun this way, and that I like to see where the wind will take me. But to be brutally honest, I’m hideously lazy and utterly scatterbrained. So, I find anything involving any real forethought to be way too much effort and a monumental bore.
So with that fantastic attitude, I found myself unemployed and strangely brimming with cash earlier this year. I took off on a three month trip around Southeast Asia, and while a good time was had, I fell for some of the most common scams out there.
Therefore, I’ve decided to write up a bit of a guide for other travellers to Southeast Asia intent on squandering more money than they can afford.
Here’s four easy ways to get scammed in Southeast Asia:
The “One Baht Tuk-tuk”
Tuk-tuks are amazing contraptions found everywhere in Southeast Asia and perfect for the fresh-off-the-boat tourist seeking that quintessentially Asian touch.
Look out for the pushy tuk-tuk drivers offering to chauffeur you around at an unbelievably low price. Some guys in Bangkok will even offer to ferry you about all day for as low as one Baht… that’s just 3 US cents! An offer too good to be true… and it is! These fellows will whisk you from expensive gem shop, to shoddy tailor, to flagrant tourists traps, to their friends’ ludicrously priced restaurants. While you hemorage cash, the one baht tuk-tuk driver earns a nice wad in commission.
Oh, and if you’re bags are feeling too heavy, you could always take a tuk-tuk in a busy city late at night from a guy who probably doesn’t really know where you hotel is. Then, once in motion, don’t hold onto your luggage and maybe someone on a motorbike will snatch it from you, costing you further money.
The “It’s closed”
Occasionally you will get lost; It’s all part of the travelling experience. So when you’re approached by a shifty guy who tells you that whatever it is you’re looking for is closed, you’d better believe him. It might be just a random Wednesday for you, but it’s probably Buddha’s birthday, or the monarch’s coronation, or some made-up holiday. There’s no need to actually go and ask at the official ticket counter. I’m sure your wiley new friend knows an expensive gem shop for you can spend all your money in instead.
The “Hire a broken motorcycle”
Southeast Asia might be bloody beautiful, but it is disgracefully humid. One way to get the breeze in your hair and to reach all those far flung beauty spots is to hire your very own motorcycle.
Now, the sensible traveller will give the bike they’re hiring a once over, or maybe even take a few photographs of the scratches before whizzing off. But that would save you money, and who wants to do that? And of course, you don’t need to bother with travel insurance either.
The “Luxury Bus”
In Bangkok you’ll find the odd travel agent selling tickets for luxury buses to the Cambodian border at cheapo prices. The reckless traveller should swipe them up immediately without any further research and get ready for a knee destroying ride. Who knows if the bus will actually make it to the border or breakdown on the way forcing you to buy another bus ticket. Oh what fun!
…Obviously, don’t do any of the things mentioned in this article.
While Southeast Asia is, on the whole, a very safe place to travel around, keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine. If you feel like someone is trying to scam you, decline their offer, smile and walk away.
A note from the Editor-in-Chimp: You could also read this here where it was originally published on Travel Wire Asia.
The post Four easy ways to lose all your money in Southeast Asia appeared first on Monkeyboy Goes.
I am not really sure about your weekend but mine was great, yesterday night I watched the amazing view of the Busan Firework festival, for almost one hour the sky was shining brightly.
Well to cut it short, we realized that some travelers actually opted to stay for long term, therefore we are going to have some special offer here.
This time our offer is that if you are going to stay for longer term such as more than 10 nights we are happy to give you up to 50% discounted price, The starting price will be from 134000KRW.
If you have any further question please feel free to contact us directly at 010-8033-9012 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Then hope to see you soon!!
Delicious food, good service, weird cocktails and free wine? Yes please. Where do you go to get these things? The Beastro Restaurant in Seoul, my new favourite place.
I’ve already written about the fact that Hongdae is one of my favourite areas in Seoul, and so it’s not surprising that I was excited to spend this weekend there. After spending hours exploring interesting side-streets, discovering new shops and cafes, and eating some pretty delicious food, I was one happy girl. The highlight of the trip? Finding an amazing new restaurant, The Beastro. Seeing as it’s number one on Trip Advisor, I was expecting it to be good, but it exceeded my expectations. So good was it that I had eaten half my meal before I thought to take any photos of the food, oops… so I’ll have to show you photos from The Beastro’s Facebook Page to give you an idea of their food.
I was immediately impressed with the restaurant; there was a 45 minute wait as we hadn’t booked in advance, but unlike a lot of restaurants when you’re asked to wait at the bar and so persuaded to spend more money on drinks, we were told we’d receive a free glass of wine while we waited. Well, this was a good way to instantly win me over! I was waiting for some sort of catch, or an expensive service-charge, but it never came. Nope, just a nice glass of wine… which was actually really good, not some disgusting cheap stuff. It was definitely a good start.
We were pretty hungry by the time we sat down to eat and the food couldn’t come quickly enough. Luckily, it was amazing service and so we didn’t have to wait long. The menu is quite small and select: appetizers include Salmon Rillettes, Red Pepper Soup, Kale and Ricotta Salad, and Roasted Eggplant Caesar Salad, mains are Carrot Risotto, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Roast Chicken, Pork Cheeks, Southern Fried Chicken, Hanger Steak, and Pork Belly. There are also some side dishes such as Fried Bree Wheel, Buffalo Mac and Cheese, and Chimmichurri Fries. It’s a good selection, and by keeping the menu on the smaller side, the meals are fresher and the quality that much better.
We ordered the Salmon Rillete, Southern Fried Chicken and the Hanger Steak… and all three were amazing. My boyfriend and I shared the salmon rillette and it was perfect: light and refreshing with big chunks of salmon in it. I absolutely love salmon so I was always going to like it, but it was some of the best salmon I’ve eaten in Korea.
Then, on to the mains… Now I’m not even a big steak fan, but wanted to try something different, and this meal converted me; the meat was almost buttery, it was so tasty and accompanied by an amazing gravy. I didn’t expect it to be so good, especially because it was reasonably priced at 19,000 won. My boyfriend devoured his chicken, which was incredibly juicy and tasty. The chicken came with some mashed potato and a ‘biscuit’ which I can only describe as a scone-like buttery treat.
Both meals tasted amazing, and were satisfying but not too heavy and filling (not that I would have complained if someone had given me some more, of course!). I imagine if you ordered a side of fries or mac and cheese, you’d end up very full though, as we saw both dishes being served and they looked rich and large (but delicious too).
The drinks were also winners: the cocktails have rather odd names, ‘Piss and Vinegar’ probably being the weirdest. We chose ‘Good Thymes’ which was a refreshing mix of wine, honey, lemon and thyme. It didn’t even taste alcoholic it was so sweet and light, which could have been pretty dangerous had we ordered more…
What I loved about the restaurant (apart from the food) was the service; the waitresses, barmen and chefs alike were so friendly, helpful and welcoming and the atmosphere was great. One of the chefs actually came over to advise us on our order and allow us to try the salmon rillette before we decided whether to order another appetiser which we really appreciated; there’s not many places where you’d receive such good service. It made the night even better and ensured that we’d happily go back.
So for any foodies, if you’re looking for a new place to eat, go to The Beastro! To get there, head to Hongik University Station, go out Exit 9, head to the playground, and The Beastro is on the second floor above MAC make-up shop. You can book in advance, but if you fancy a free glass of wine then maybe you won’t mind showing up and having to wait a little bit… now there’s an incentive if you still need one!
Filed under: Food, Korea, Living
© KATHRYN GODFREY