Moore "Kaijin"

After travelling to the land of kimchi, K-Pop, street food and selfie-sticks, we have made our way back to our home in Japan. South Korea had been on our travel wishlist for various reasons. One, the country is home to some of the kindest people we have ever met. Two, we love Bibimbap. Three, it is easily accessible from Japan. And four, it is a culture we knew little to nothing about, which perked our curiosity.

We arrived to Busan in the late evening on September 18th and returned to Japan on the 29th. Within those 10 days, we covered many miles. Starting in Busan, we traveled (by bus) to Seoul, where we were blessed by the southern (Korean) hospitality. First, the Lees, a beautiful couple who are family friends and business partners of Jon’s parents, bought us tickets to tour the DMZ! We can now officially say we have stepped foot in North Korea. How cool is that? If that wasn’t enough, the Lees also gifted us with a beautiful hotel room and gourmet Korean cuisine. Talk about first impressions…

With the Lees before we devoured a major Korean-fusion multi-course meal
This was the first course… with many more to come…

Facing North Korea!

And the Lees weren’t the only family who went out of their way to make sure we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Jun Kang, a long-time friend of the Moores’ showed us around Seoul, introducing us to Korean street markets, college districts, Korean pizza and other local flare. We finished our day with him at his house where his parents prepared a meal of massive proportions. We tried everything from homemade kimchi to bulgogi, chicken and potato stew, tteokbokki, green salad, umeboshi and rice.

Jun and Jon

Traditional guard procession 

Palace Gate

While we were still in the North, we took a trip to Sokcho and hiked in Seoraksan National Park. Not only was Seoraksan beautiful, but our stay at the House Hostel was awesome. They let us use bikes for free which we used to explore the city’s fish market, ocean pier and taste our very first Korean fried chicken. The woman who prepared the chicken took the whole bird, cut it into pieces and tossed them into the pan, frying every single inch of that bird. The eating process turned into a fun dissection process.

Seoraksan

Makaya, probably showing some major disrespect

Korean guy who took our photo: “Kiss! Kiss!”
Us: “What if we were siblings???”
Beautiful abyss

Makaya, again, probably showing some major disrespect
Catholic Cathedral 
BIBIMBAP!

Jeonju was next on our list. We stayed at the Carpediem Hostel near the historic Hanok Village and we both agree that this was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The food in Jeonju was AMAZING, the atmosphere was authentic and the people at the hostel were so friendly. On our second night, we attended a show in the Hanok Village where we watched local talent while eating the traditional bibimbap (Makaya’s favorite). Makaya even got to participate in the show!

Henny was a priority on our list as well. We met her while she was studying at UO and her personality and friendly spirit made a lasting impression on us both. We just had to see her again. She recently landed a job in Daegu, a few hours east of Jeonju. Henny showed us around the city, took us to a beautiful lake where we sipped the most delicious bubble tea and introduced us to the more “traditional” Korean BBQ of Makchang, otherwise known as barbecued pig intestine and chicken heart. Jon managed to stomach the intestine but Makaya stuck with the heart. It was quiet the gastronomical experience! To reward our taste buds, we tried our very first bingsu dessert. And now we want it for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Henny, Jon and Kaya taking a stroll around the lake

Pig intestine and chicken heart…

hmmm…

Taste-bud redemption. BINGSU!
That moment when you devour an entire bingsu to yourself and
 look over to realize that 4 Korean girls are sharing the same one

Moving back down to Busan, we finished our trip with a night in Haeundae Beach near the famous Jugalchi Fish Market and another night in lively Nampo. Exhausted but still ready to explore, we decided to spend our last night roaming the streets of the busy Nampo shopping district, ate street food and devoured another bingsu and mochi-toast while watching young Korean girls take countless selfies, photobombing those selfies and continuing to wonder how Asians stay so slim.

Fresh fish lunch at the fish market
Fish Market!
Crabs on Crabs

Gamcheon Culture Village
Haeundae Beach 

Upon our arrival back in Japan, we were picked up by Tanoe San who lives in Fukuoka, another business partner of the Moores. He introduced us to the couple who kindly babysat our car while we were gone. They came from Korea as missionaries and live in an apartment turned church-cafe-English school. We enjoyed learning about all the things God is doing with their ministry and how resourceful they have been with that space! It is so inspiring to see God’s work through the lives of this couple here in Japan and we pray to know how we can somehow be involved.

Arriving back in Japan, we felt a sense of home. It’s funny to feel at home in a foreign country but it is a feeling we are thankful for. We are thankful for the kindness and gentleness of the Japanese people, the vast array of food options, the rich cultural history and the simplicity of our little town of Nobeoka. We are thankful for our tiny church, our K-car and the Japanese onsens that we soaked in on our way home. We have so much to be thankful for.

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