Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What War? I'm Going On A Pasalubong Shopping!

I was quietly sipping my Cafe Mocha from the Starbucks closest to my office when the news broke out. Bang! Bang!

What?! The northern neighbors are at it again?!

Late yesterday afternoon, the hapless people at that northern island of Yeongpyeong, near the border between the two Koreas, were surprised and shocked at the artillery fire from the North that landed on their town, destroying their homes and setting their livelihood on fire. It wasn't only the sleepy island that got awakened, it was the whole news world! And as I expected, it was only minutes till news about the incident would reach home.

And I was right!

And up until the early evening, when I was doing my grocery, text messages were still coming in from friends and family from home asking how I was as they thought there was a real threat of war here in Seoul. They must have thought I was on foot fleeing and frantically running away from the artillery fire!

Not wanting them to worry, I told them I was actually at the supermarket shopping, and was at the aisle between the shelves carrying cereals and infant powdered milk. Ha-ha-ha!

And that sort of appeased their worries, especially for my mom, who, after knowing I was okay and learning I was just shopping, threw in a few more messages about what she wants me to get for her as 'pasalubong' (presents in English).

So, instead of worrying about the escalation of tension, I was rather worried about my pasalubong list, which becomes longer and longer as my flight back home draws near.

And today at lunch break, the day after the exchange of artillery fire at the northern part of South Korea, I hurried off to the duty-free shop in Myeongdong, where I saw Seoulites and tourists get on with their hectic lives (and their shopping), oblivious to the big news of yesterday.

I guess life still goes on in Seoul even with the bad news. The City has been through worst of times before, and that exchange of artillery fire would make the afternoon news, but not change the menu for dinner.

For me? It just changed my 'pasalubong' list.

So, what war? I'm going on a 'pasalubong' shopping!


  1. Hi. We are visiting Seoul come winter. Can we buy a bulk of items from a supermarket and have them in a cardboard box? I'd like to bring home a good supply of banana milk, kim and ramyeon. Would there be any problems with the customs if we do this?

  2. I don't think you'll have a problem bringing them out of Korea, but just be aware how much value you're allowed by your home country's customs when you arrive home.