Ever since moving to Seoul, I gained the joy of visiting old restaurants in my neighbourhood. To be more specific, old hanok restaurants. Jongno, the heart of Seoul, is a forest of modern skyscrapers but among those, in the back alleys, are the old hanok (traditional Korean architecture) structures waiting to be discovered.
I was happy to find a North Korean restaurant right across from my work, and then I was even more thrilled to learn later on that the restaurant was built by renovating the owner’s personal hanok home. Park Hye-sook, the lady who owns the place, is from Pyeongyang, the capital city of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The city of Seongnam is more known as popular residential area in Gyeonggi-do province. Geographically it is not part of Seoul but the city is conveniently connected to Gangnam and other parts of Seoul through Metro. When I hopped on a bus at Daejeon Government Complex bus terminal that was bound to Seongnam I really did not have much thought on where I wanted to go. It was simply the bus to Seongnam was what was available at the moment. Soon I got off in a town that I have never been before and started to venture off into the snow.
Being a Korean-Canadian, I was always fascinated by the topic of North Korea. Everyone has their own opinion and stereotype about the world’s most repressed county but the most interesting insights come from none other than South Koreans. Now that I live in South Korea, I am exposed to more news and stories about North Korea through South Korean media. After more than 70 years of separation, it seems that down here in south the neighbour up north is no more than a political tool during election season. Some younger generation feel indifferent towards issues in the north and some oppose unification while others have strong opinions toward policies against North Korea.
Few weeks ago mom and I decided to have naengmyun (냉면: cold buckwheat noodles) for lunch. She insisted that out of many naengmyun places in Daejeon we would go to a place that makes Pyongyang-style noodles. Her reason was that ever since she was young she was told that the recipe originated from capital of North Korea is the best for mul-naengmyun (물냉면: buckwheat noodles in icy broth). On the other hand, it is known that Hamheung (another city in North Korea) style is the one to go if you are craving for bibim-naengmyun (비빔냉면: buckwheat noodles mixed with spicy sauce).