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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Allie is in South Korea ... heart and Seoul (third in a series)

Read part 5 ...

Read part 4 ...

Read part 2 ...

Read part 1 ...

Emory's largest percentage of international alumni live in Korea, thanks in part to Emory President Emeritus James Laney 94H, also a former ambassador to South Korea.

At my latest stop on multicity Asia trip, I was fortunate enough to meet more that 100 alumni in Seoul on Saturday evening, October 9, as we celebrated the naming of the James T. Laney Graduate School at Emory.

Seoul was a short flight from Tokyo at just under two hours. The first thing that I noticed upon landing at the airport was the thick, soupy smog that penetrated the air, almost like a dense cloud covering that lasted throughout the day. The city of Seoul was bustling with activity and preparation for the G20 Summit in November. I witnessed the planning first hand on Friday morning at my hotel, the first Western-style hotel built in Seoul and the host to many visiting dignitaries and foreign officials during the upcoming meeting of the nations. Check out my YouTube video about this.

While in the lobby on Friday morning, I noticed a lot of activity by officials with clipboards. A short time later, the lobby filled with smoke and the fire alarms sounded. The hotel was evacuated.

When I exited the hotel, it was surrounded by four fire trucks, multiple ambulances, and several military emergency response vehicles with weapons poised. I established a vantage spot across the street to watch the activities unfold--luckily it was just a drill. Sirens blared, pretend victims were rescued from the roof of the hotel while fake explosives were detonated, and smoke continued to fill the air. Seoul definitely takes the upcoming summit seriously and is prepared!

I met several of our local Seoul alumni chapter leaders for a traditional Korean dinner that evening. The meal was 10 courses long with my favorite dish being the jellyfish salad.

I am sure that you are wondering how jellyfish tastes. Honestly, it doesn't taste like much, is hard to eat with chopsticks and could easily be mistaken for pasta--except it is clear! Other courses included kimchi, tempura style shrimp, and a delicious fruit-punch-type drink for dessert.

My visit to South Korea may have been short, but was definitely eventful and I leave with the knowledge that our alumni in South Korea are full of pride and dedication to their alma mater, even halfway around the world!

-- Allie Hill, director, international alumni relations, EAA

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