Saturday, 24 September 2011
The Nami Republic's Embassy In Seoul
I thought the Nami Republic signage at its ferry harbor in Chuncheon was a cute marketing strategy: proclaiming itself an independent state without having to ask approval from the UN General Assembly.
So when I visited its office in Insa-dong to reserve bus and tour tickets for Nami Island for friends flying in from Manila, I wasn't that surprised. They had to be consistent! A republic needs an embassy!
Although it has no national flag flying outside its building like the real embassies, the Seoul Embassy of the Nami Republic looked very welcoming, and full of souvenirs and Korean actors' posters minus, of course, the bureaucratic red tape.
This embassy does not issue visitor visas. Instead, it issues bus reservations for the limited seats on its daily tour to the island Republic.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to meet the ambassador; he must have been on a state visit somewhere. So, I only met the next-in-command: the lady clerk accepting the reservations.
I have visited quite a number of embassies in Seoul, but this embassy is the coziest (with cafe-like atmosphere!), the most welcoming (no security doors and reception rooms with stiff, dusty chairs) and has the best display of its cultural identity (souvenirs and a lot more)!
I must have visited Insa-dong a hundred times, and I never realized that there was an embassy sitting right in the middle!
Now, I know the place in Insa-dong which I can suggest to Winter Sonata fans who may not have the time to leave the city. This is the closest thing they have to visiting the island without having to cross the lake.
At this embassy, they can pose for photos, reserve tickets and seek political asylum while shopping for souvenirs! Ha-ha-ha!
It's on that end close to Tapgol Park, and is almost across Insa-dong's Starbucks; that Starbucks whose signage is the only one written in hangeul in the whole Korea.
But how come I didn't see any statue of General Nami at the embassy, the guy after whom the Republic was named? Hmm...O-eh yo? Why?