Snow Day in Ilsan

It was a sunny and snowy day in Ilsan on Monday.

After a week spent in the crunchy snow and shiver-inducing temperatures of the Midwest, my winter boots got plenty of use. When it came to packing them for my trip back to Goyang, South Korea, I nearly left them behind, thinking of the snowless streets I had left behind only days earlier. Over-packer that I am, I jammed them in my suitcase just to be safe, and by Monday, I was glad to have them. Christmas day brought a light dusting of snow, leaving about 2 inches of packed powder to derail my rolling suitcase on the sidewalks, but little more than that. As I woke up, jet-lagged and groggy, on Monday, I looked out the window and thought, “Is it snowing?” And snowing it was. A lot. And the flakes didn’t just make an appearance in the morning, but consistently fell in a white flurry all throughout the day.

With a frosty blanket covering the city, people seemed to be at once playfully giddy at the novelty of all the white stuff and absolutely at a loss as to how to deal with it. By the time evening fell on Monday, 10 inches (26 centimeters) worth of little white flakes had dropped from the sky to pile on sidewalks and drape over tree boughs. When I say piled, I don’t mean neatly pushed to the side of the road or away from storefront doorways. No, apparently the Korean approach to snow is to do just about nothing to effectively disturb it. Not one plow cleared the way as cars crept by on snow-covered roads. I had one or two rare shovel spottings, but dustpans and brooms seem to be the preferred method for clearing sidewalks. It’s probably a foregone conclusion, but for those curious, I would not recommend this technique of snow removal.

Snow is hardly unheard of in the Seoul sprawl, but this much snow is apparently unprecedented. Yesterday’s storm was the worst the area has experienced since as far back as 1937, when the country began recording such data. Schools closed, flights were cancelled, and the subways had to stay open extended hours to accommodate struggling commuters. Even scooters, who weave in and out of pedestrians and oncoming traffic at such breakneck speeds I thought they might be unstoppable, were slowed to a crawl. It was a day made to be lazy and lounge around town pondering the falling snow. I’ve got my fingers crossed for more snow and with it a snow day, but record-setting storms like yesterday may not be at my beck and call. At least we were a part (alright, observer) of history for one day.

What's a person to do on a snowy day when much of the town shuts down and roads are a chaotic and mushy mess of snow? Maybe a stroll around Ilsan's Lake Park is in order. It may look tranquil enough, but don't be deceived, under all that snow is a brutally thick layer of ice. Salt schmalt. Who needs it?
I imagine this bike rental office across the street from Lake Park did not have a great day for business. Then again, it hasn't been balmy bike-around-the-lake weather for some time.
At least that basket's got something to hold.
If biking was your plan for getting around town, think again.
With biking improbable, and walking an exercise in balance on the unsalted, uncleared sidewalks, you could always go the route this person did and pull out your urban four-wheeler.
How do you pass the time on a lethargic day of snow such as Monday? Hunker down in a cafe with some brunch and a warm drink, of course. One of our favorite cafes, Madre, is a perfect place to laze away an afternoon. But bring your coat and scarf, this place, like most, doesn't have central heating and the space heaters are small.
Better bring your dustpan or broom if you want to sit down outside.
Korea seems to seize any situation that could lend itself to cutesy quality time for couples. Greg and I certainly were just one of many couples strolling around Lake Park.
As we approached Lake Park, we heard a loud whacking noise which we followed to this man, wielding a long plastic pole.
Then we saw another pole-wielding man, this one made of bamboo. Whatever could they be doing making such a ruckus while swinging long poles above their heads? Apparently whacking tree branches to shake the snow loose.
Attempting to shake snow out of trees out of Lake Park's trees struck me as strange and illogical since it was still snowing, the park holds too many trees to count so any effort to clear them all of snow was clearly futile, and lastly, why on Earth would it hurt coniferous trees to have snow in them? Necessary or not, you had to give these guys credit for determination and effort.
Umbrellas were out in full force lest any noggins should come into contact with snowflakes.
With umbrellas came umbrella prints imprinted in the snow.
Snow weights down a branch footprints trail in the distance towards one of Lake Park's pagoda. With the man-made lake frozen, which is no surprise considering its depth never appears to exceed 4 feet, people were happy to take advantage of the solid surface.
These middle-aged adults turned plastic garbage bags into sleds on the hill.
Greg atop Lake Park's biggest pagoda. All in all it was a pretty good day for a snow storm.

6 thoughts on “Snow Day in Ilsan

  1. This post just proves that you should’ve had a DSLR in your hands this whole time. Thank goodness you finally got one. Pictures look amazing!


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