Peel your eyelids open and watch the sun riseIf you’ve been reading the back page of the JoongAng Daily this week, you know what’s happening tonight for New Year’s Eve. And if you read Monday’s excellent Page 8 article by Park Soo-mee, “Greeting the dawn of a new year,” you know what Koreans like to do every Dec. 31 ― stay up all night, then watch the sun rise.
Since you’re a dutiful adherent to the “when in Rome” rule, you plan to do likewise: Regardless of what you’ll do or where you’ll be for the six to 12 hours prior, you’ve resolved to be awake and in a special location to witness Korea’s first sunrise of 2005.
The most popular place to watch the sun rise is the east coast town of Jeongdongjin, just south of the beach city Gangneung. Ms. Park’s article, featuring locales on the west coast, suggested Ouemok Village in South Chungcheong province. So if you were smart, you went to Seoul Station this week to arrange transportation to one of these places, and you and your love interest will be sitting on a beach come 6:27 tomorrow morning.
But what if you couldn’t get tickets for Sokcho? What if they were all sold out?
Or what if you have tickets, but are fairly sure you’ll get drunk this evening and miss your 10:30 train?
No need to worry. The sun also rises over Itaewon, though many an Itaewonian, all euphoric and in mid-revel at a very wee hour, has wished it wouldn’t.
So where should you go to watch the Itaewon dawn break? On a recent weeknight, I put this question to three guys who should know: the owner, the bartender and a patron at the friendliest bar on Gay Hill, Always Homme, which is open all night, every night.
Unsurprisingly, they thought the question odd. The owner, Paul, looked at me funny, then said, “Watch the sunrise in Itaewon? I don’t think so.”
But when told that if he provided a clever reply this column would plug tonight’s New Year’s Eve party at his dance club WhyNot? (across from Always Homme), Paul saw the light.
“The most beautiful place for the sunrise, naturally, will be WhyNot?” he said. “That’s because there will be so many handsome boys, and they’ll all be dancing, and all that dancing will keep you nice and warm.”
The bartender, Hyuck, said that you should watch the sunrise from the most successful business in town, because that will bring you good fortune.
“Their good luck will rub off on you,” he said. “So go to a bar that has lots of customers and makes lots of money, like Gecko’s.”
A young Korean customer, who gave his name as Emmett, suggested a hike up the mountain that sports the city’s biggest phallus symbol. “The best thing to do is just drink all night, then climb up Namsan,” he said. “That’s where you can see the real sunrise.”
Oh, and did we mention that Paul’s dance club WhyNot? will be throwing a big party tonight? It’s open to everyone, gay, straight or whatever. The cover charge is only 10,000 won ($9.60), which gets you the drink of your choice plus a glass of champagne.
There will be a big, suspenseful countdown to midnight, then lots of spontaneous kissing. There’s no dress code, Paul says, but “the sexier the better.”
by Mike Ferrin