The girls were feeling better today, and the weather was nice and warm (it hit 5 degrees centigrade! Granted, at home the same temperature would send us shivering under layers of blankets, but that’s downright balmy for winter in Seoul). So we went on a mission that we had planned for weeks.
Toy Alley in Dongdaemun.
Dongdaemun is a huge shopping district (not to be confused with Nomdaemun, which is also a huge a shopping district, but the shops specialize in different things). Dongdaemun is the place to buy hanboks (remember Lyra’s awesome Korean princess dress?), fabrics and yarns, exotic pets… and toys. There is a whole alleyway that is just toy store after toy store after toy store, and these are wholesalers who also sell to the public.
In other words, kid heaven.
Volucris knew what he wanted before we even left home, and by “home” I mean Israel.
For the others, our mission was to find something that we could not find more easily anywhere else, something iconic and Korean.
Sagitta got a stuffed Pororo.
Lyra got Ddung dolls, which are very hot here.
I read some of Ddung’s (pronounced sort of like “Tune”) marketing literature, and I wish I hadn’t. She’s shallower than Barbie. Apparently, her greatest goal in life is to be Miss Korea in the Miss Universe pageant. But isn’t she cute? I almost wish I got my own.
Did I mention the scale of toy alley? It’s like Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, it goes every which way full of every which toy. Stuffed animals, dolls, kits, stationery, crafts, locally made and imported, and even though the lunar New Year holiday was approaching, the stores were still bustling, and we were right there in the middle of it.
And even though Aquila saw every one of these toys, she rejected them all. None of them spoke to her, none of them asked her to take them home.
I reassured that we would find the right thing in Dongdaemun Market. We just had to keep looking.
She remembered the pet stores and asked for a puppy.
I remembered the story of a college buddy whose father was stationed here years ago, and how they tried to buy a puppy for a pet and the shop owner misunderstood and gave them the puppy in a package wrapped in butcher paper, and I said no.
But I knew that the right thing for Aquila was waiting for her somewhere there, in Dongdaemun. And then I realized, it wasn’t a toy. So we trekked to the other side of Dongdaemun, a few blocks away.
She’s sleeping now. They are right next to her bed.