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Journals from Yonsei University, Korea

2009-09-17 Bibimbap Taste Test

All of you who know me are well aware at how quickly I will jump at opportunities for free food. Im a college student, so it comes with the territory. Well, when I first moved into the I-House they had a signup for a free meal in Gwanghwamun, which is where a famous palace gate is. A group of about 40 students splits into two and takes buses over. Now this is my first time on a bus here and two things stick out: One is that it has air conditioning, and the other is that the bus driver drives it as if it were a taxi. A quick, crazy ride to say the least We showed up at Caf Sobahn, a New York bistro-ish kind of place, and were all surprised to find the tables set with surveys and cameras all around. Turns out we were there for a taste test by CJ group (the largest consumer group in Korea) to give them feedback on a new menu. It was not at all what we were expecting, but it was nice to be able to sample even more kinds of foods. The place was kind of pricey, because they gave each table a bottle of more expensive soju and every participant their own bottle of rice wine so in all we made out with a nice meal that most of us would never have been willing to pay for. The kind of weird part was that they had staff taking pictures and shooting video the entire time. This means that quite a few times I had pictures/video being taken of me mid-chew. At one point they started asking us to pose for shots. A favorite seemed to be of us taking a huge spoonful of rice and sticking it in our mouths and then thumbs-upping while chewing. It was kind of hilarious to see other people do it, and who knows?-- one day there might be ad campaigns with random people from the group. After dinner two of my friends and I decided to walk around a bit more down in that part of the city. There is supposed to be a really famous man-made lake, but we obviously didnt walk the right way to find it. What we did find were hundreds of policemen in riot gear. The streets were lined with police buses, with some of the officers sitting on the ground and some standing to make a corridor with shields up. One of them waved and said hello to me, but I still couldnt help feel a bit uneasy. I think maybe they were just training, but we never did find out for sure. Needless to say, we took a different path to the metro back home. Ashley Price Yonsei University Fall '09

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