Hong Ho in Korea

When Heather and I went on our honeymoon last October, we stayed at my old friend's house for the latter half. Staying at a friend's house for a honeymoon does sound a little unusual, but it really depends on how well you know that friend.

Hong and I met in the 90's during a disagreement over a chess game. It's funny to think back to that time and realise it was the beginning of a long friendship. He came over to Korea for his year-end holiday and spent most of the time in Busan and Japan with our other good friend, Daniel. But he managed to pop up to Seoul for a weekend and I had the arduous task of figuring out how best to spend two nights in the concrete metropolis.

POSCO is a major Korean steelmaker and one of the classic business success stories in the country. During the festive season, they light up the streets around their headquarters in Samseong-dong. I think it's similar to something that I saw on a postcard, sometime, somewhere.

Probably Paris.

Heather thinks Hong is quiet but altogether a nice guy. I must say, he is pretty quiet around new people. After the addition of wine, he becomes noticeably more talkative. However, excessive wine tends to negate the effect.

It's all about optimum dosage.

Behind the POSCO centre is a Smokey Saloon hamburger restaurant. Although seemingly ignored by expat burger enthusiasts in Seoul, we find the burgers here to be quite good. Not brilliant, but edible and reasonably priced.

And they have real gherkins.

I ordered a burger called the Vampire Hunter, which had two pieces of bacon in an X configuration, with garlic and chilli sauce. I give it a 6.5/10, mainly for thematic creativity.

Hong had the Ambulance II, which is probably the best thing on the menu. It has all sorts of things, including two eggs and a hash brown inside. According to Zen Kimchi, there are better burgers in Seoul, but I lack the required motivation to track them down.

The snow has been fading in Seoul, which is a good thing. On campus, the snow tends to melt during the day and freeze at night, leading to slippery encounters. In the photo above, Heather is wearing the scarf that her mother knitted for her.

Hong, Daniel and I once made a clan in an online MMORPG called Lineage 2. Our group was called Confessions, and we spent many hours leveling up and generally causing havoc in cyberspace. Excessive online gaming with friends can be a lot of fun, and I disagree with the notion that it's anti-social. But I agree that it's not very productive or useful.
Lineage 2 was made by NCsoft, a Korean based developer. Hong was interested in seeing the headquarters, so we went back to Samseong-dong to have a look. Unfortunately it was closed on the Sunday, but we did get to peek through the windows at the official NCsoft cafe'.

Back in Australia, we used to drink a lot at bars and clubs near Hindley Street. My best friend Wikipedia just told me that Hindley Street has a McDonald's named as The World's Dirtiest McDonald's.

Interesting, and not entirely inaccurate. I guess they're not talking about the one on the corner of West Terrace.

Hong seemed to enjoy his short stay in Seoul, and then went back to Busan. I told Hong that if he lived in Korea, he would probably be very popular with the girls. That's because he has a broad Australian accent, unlike mine which has been corrupted by North American influences. And also because he has a nice personality, of course.
Unfortunately I'm not sure when I'll be able to catch up with Hong or any of our friend's back in Australia next.

Hopefully not too long.