Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Seoul International Fireworks Festival

On Saturday October 13, 2007 the Seoul International Fireworks Festival was held. This is an annual event, was canceledlast year due to controversy with North Korea (as far as we heard South Koreans were afraid of being bombed by North Korea, and that the fireworks would mask the sound of the bombs.).

Jon, Krista, John, Christie (confused yet? did I mention John and Christie are also from Saskatchewan?) and Stephanie, also from Canada, took the subway from Geumjeong transfer station (Line 1/4) to Singil and transferred to Line 5 to get to Yeoinaru where we watched the fireworks from the park along the river.

We arrived 2 hours early so that we could actually make the subway and get a spot on the grass to watch the event. The subways and busses stopped running in that area for the fireworks. There were people absolutely everywhere. We started off having space around us on the grass and about 30 minutes before the fireworks started, everyone is shoulder to shoulder, basically sitting on top of each other. We have never been in a crowd of this size or density. It's like Craven x 10 or Rockfest x 3, but with everyone sitting on the ground with their shoes neatly laid out next to them! Koreans take their shoes off all the time!

Can you see any shoes in this picture, if you look hard you will see them!

There were vendors selling kites for kids and blankets to anyone that was cold or wanted something to sit down on. Krista and Christie each bought a blanket for 6000W or $6. I eventually got cold and went to go buy one as well. The young Korean male told me 7000W, and I just stared at him (can you guess what I was thinking?) I said no - they (I pointed in a crowd) paid 6000 and shoved the money in his hand. I'm not sure if everyone gets ripped off or just a male foreigner? Either way, I took my blanket and kept warm.

This is Building 63 the tallest building in Northeast Asia

Does this look crowded to you? Not to us!

If you click the picture to enlarge, and look closely, the lights on the building spell Jon!

Sooooo many Asians (and some foreigners in the mix too)! There was a 5x5 area just behind us that was open. If a group were to sit down, we'd all touching each other. Well guess what... two adults and two kids decided to sit themselves down. Krista was not impressed and basically sitting on their toes. She commented outloud on how irritated we all were (not like the ladies could understand us anyway). Twenty seconds later, they gave us food! They gave us Wagon Wheels (for those of you in Canada) and a Ho Ho / Little Debbie (for those of you in the US), an apple slice and some juice! How great was that! We were a little nicer towards them after :)

The police were out in full force to control pedestrians and traffic - and to ensure there were no riots. Police were blocking all subway entrances to ensure that people didn't flood onto the subway and hurt each other in the proccess.

Krista missed the American and Korean fireworks because she stood in line for the bathroom, for over an hour. Soju, which is drank everywhere, and even on the street was a must for handling the crowds!

Here the long line of police officers were controlling pedestrians so traffic could actually flow through the streets. The Police would block the crosswalks, and then when the light changed they would make a path for you to safely walk across the street.

Jon striking a pose with the cops controlling the entrance to the subway station. All Koreans love spreading a little peace!

This picture does not do the comedy we had seen justice. After the fireworks were over, the subway stations in the area were jam packed with people, the subway cars themselves were overcrowded. Apparently, this lady could not wait for the next subway to come so she decided to push her friend/daughter? in to the car and squeeeeeeeeeeze herself in without getting caught between the doors. It was absolutely hilarious.

This video is of the subway station (which is 3 levels underground), a view from just outside the station and another view from the grass. Soooo many people.

This video is of the fireworks. When you see the bridge, it is actually lit up with fireworks on either side that are set to look like a waterfall. It's a little too dark to really capture how beautiful it was, but you get the idea. The Koreans did a good job.

This video is of the crowded streets while we are on the way to look for food.

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