Seoul, South Korea

This morning I woke to a light dusting of snow on the ground. It is very cold, below zero today. Seoul is full of narrow alleys that wind around like a maze. If this were America it would be far too dangerous to wander these alleys; however, Seoul has a reputation (and Korea in general) of being safe, extremely so compared to most American cities, I think. I wandered the alleys for about an hour or so. The only people awake were busy sweeping the alleys and sidewalks of snow.

In one of the larger alleys I saw a stray dog, which surprised me because although eating dog meat here is not widespread, it is relatively common, more so than keeping dogs as pets. It might have been a stray but I think this particular dog was a pet because it was loitering near a slightly open door, behind which I could sense activity. Yesterday near the North Korean border I spotted two feral dogs, nearly pure white, outside of the entrance to what I think in hindsight was one of at least four known infiltration tunnels built by the North as a means by which to invade the South.

Yesterday I mentioned vampire deer we spotted in relatively large numbers near the DMZ. I believe they may be called musk deer, and apparently their scent glands, which according to Wikipedia are only found on adult males, can fetch upwards of $45,000 on the black market. I imagine far more of them live in South Korea as opposed to North Korea, simply because North Korea's forests have been nearly eradicated in the poor country's effort to find fuel. When you're near the border, you can tell where the North begins because the trees disappear. We were told by one of our guides that it is rare to see as many wild animals as we did, and that sometimes visitors to the DMZ see none.