As a combined graduation/birthday present, we arranged for Katie to travel to Seoul, South Korea. That might seem an unlikely destination until you understand that she is staying with a friend. Ji attended Webster Groves High School for the 2007-2008 school year. We were not her host family for that year, but as she now goes to Mizzou she frequently stays with us when she comes back to St. Louis. As luck would have it, we had just received permission from Ji's parents for Katie to stay with them when North Korea launched a missile. Reading the news reports here, we were not certain South Korea would be safe for Katie. A review of the US Department of State's website did not reveal any travel warnings for South Korea. Ji's dad is in the military, so we solicited his input. Basically he said that the Western press sensationalizes everything, and that it is perfectly safe for Katie to come over there. So I proceeded to make her flight arrangements.
She left here Saturday at 9:15, heading to Chicago where she had a 2 hour layover to change terminals and check in with Korean Air. Once on Korean Air, she had a 13 1/2 hour flight direct to Seoul. She called us early Sunday morning, fortunately waiting until 7 AM to contact us. There is a 14 hour time difference, so I appreciated not being called at 2 AM. She told me that the lady in the seat next to her fell asleep immediately and slept the whole flight. Katie was afraid to disturb her, so she didn't leave her own seat for the entire trip. Wow - bladder of iron!
In the email she sent last night she told us that Ji's dad came home from the base so he could go out to supper with them. They took her to a traditional Korean restaurant, where they removed their shoes upon arrival and were seated on pillows. She was adventuresome and tried everything that was brought to the table, including the squid and the fish served whole. Monday they were going to see the Presidential Palace. I'm grateful that she is able to email us, but if I could ask for a little more, I hope she sends along some pictures as well.