Our lives begin to end the day we decide to become silent about things that matter. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mugunghwa House was founded on October 18, 2012 and is a guesthouse dedicated for grown-up international adoptees and is operated by Eastern Social Welfare Services. Mugunghwa (무궁화집), is translated as ‘Rose of Sharon,’ which is Korea’s national flower as well. The property sits on the corner of a quiet street and is surrouned by a tall security wall with an intercom system for guests as the arrive. The house is several homes down from the bustling street and has 6 relatively spacious bedrooms (remember I’m used to more proper dorm living as well as very small Korean apartments with the CouchSurfing I’ve been doing), and allows for about 15 guests at a time. There is also a living room that flows into the dining area and wraps around to the kitchen, several bathrooms are situated throughout the property, there is even a small laundry area with a washing machine with free laundry detergent available for guests that is just outside the back door from the kitchen, from this small space there is a series of stairs that lead to what appears to be either more bedrooms or even a small basement apartment. At the time I was given the tour it appeared to be occupied by two long-term guests that I received very brief introductions with. Overall the property feels very much like a your mom’s house, and it seems to be a very peaceful environment for adoptees as we learn more about our roots and have a chance to experience Korean culture.
My last night CouchSurfing with Ray was my sixth night (almost double the amount of time most hosts are willing to accept a surfer) and we’ve decided to have dinner at an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant. Even before we have left the apartment I’ve already decided that I’m going to pay for his dinner since he was such an exceptional host, plus he paid for our share of the taxi and waking up to the surprise of a McDonald’s delivered breakfast. This has nothing to say about my other hosts’ I’ve had in Seoul, because every one of them have been exceptional, Adam, Austin, and Scott, it’s just that I suppose because Ray’s schedule was more flexible that we had a chance to go out a bit more around the city. The food was amazing and we ate to our stomach’s content. He did mention that even though it’s all-you-can eat for only ₩10,100 ($9.52 each), that if your eyes end up being larger than your stomach at the end of the meal and there is a plate of uncooked or even cooked meat, they will charge your wastefulness, which I said was fair, but also wondered how many Americans found this out the hard way and failed miserably by arguing the fact. After dinner we took the subway back to the Sillim station and walked around the area since it wasn’t too cold out, we ended up sitting by the recently engineered river discussing a variety of topics. Apparently a former mayor of the city convinced tax payers that several publics works projects such as constructing sidewalks for running and biking trails that run the length of the river as well as a variety of others will benefit the entire public and bring Seoul upwards to being a major international city for tourism. This was our last conversation of the evening as we made the short walk up the street to his apartment–stating that within the next 15-years or less Seoul is on pace to be just as sophisticated and desirable as other sought after destinations such as Tokyo, Paris, and New York.