Anyone that knows me would be aware that Singapore wasn’t my first international home — I lived in Daejeon, South Korea for six months way back in mid-2007. I traveled to Seoul several times during that period, one adventure of which I have written about previously, but that period of my life is nothing more than a blur. I moved to Korea to work as an English teacher at St. Mary’s Elementary School, Daejeon for 12 months while Anna had just begun working in Singapore, however, the only problem with that plan was that I had developed epilepsy six months earlier, the details of which I went into in greater detail in that earlier post about visiting Seoul.
I lived alone in Korea, but Anna flew over to visit me a few times so let’s take a quick look back at those days when we were almost 12 years younger and I was about 20kg lighter (You’ll notice later that we’re still wearing a lot of the same winter clothes, though):
When I look at pictures of my time in South Korea, small bits and pieces come back to me:
- I kind of remember some parts of my workplace and a few of the people I worked with.
- I recall my tiny apartment where I spent most of my time, of which I could touch three walls at the same time.
- The first time you’re unexpectedly on the receiving end of a ddong chim will always stick with you.
- I will never forget the insane level of vanity among Korean people, especially men. In fact, around half of the advertising in pharmacies for make up and skincare products featured men. I also had the mother of a 12-year-old student tell me that if she passed English, she could have a nose-job.
- Little things like the woman that worked in the convenience store beneath my apartment or the song that played in the local supermarket, Homever, come back to me.
Daejeon is also a rather small city with a population of about 1.5 million people and very few expats so I also recall people’s reactions toward me during my very first time living away from Australia; random strangers asking in their best broken English if they could take photos with me in the street. Getting laughed at when I went into a shoe store because, despite having reasonably small feet for my size, they still didn’t stock shoes that big. Or the screams when I’d have to duck to get through a doorway to teach a classroom full of children for the first time.
But it was also a difficult time because I was a stranger in a new place where I was unable to communicate with the local people despite trying to learn some Korean and also had been recently diagnosed with an unpredictable condition that left me a little nervous to stray too far from home unaccompanied in case I had a seizure.
It might seem like I didn’t enjoy my time spent living in Daejeon, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, it just didn’t occur at the best time for me. Now I’d be returning to South Korea for the first time since then, this time with Anna as she had been invited to speak at AVPRS 2018 in Seoul, her final conference of the year. I may be able to recall bits and pieces of life in Daejeon, but I have no real recollection of visiting Seoul, despite being there two or three times, however, upon later visiting Tokyo I came to the conclusion that Korea was that weird, creepy uncle of Japan that most people tend to have in their family — Even if you haven’t been to Japan, you know that there is a playful weirdness there and Korea has it too, but not as wacky, just a bit darker. Would my previous assessment of South Korea be correct? Time would tell, as would other factors such as the fact that every other time I had been to Seoul I had stayed in Itaewon, a hub for expats and hipsters. This time we would be staying in Gangnam. Yup, that Gangnam. This trip also occurred during the 12 days of Christmas and I can’t stand Christmas, particularly Christmas music. Let’s see how this goes down in the land of everything cutesy.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Our flight was at 2:00am on Wednesday morning, however, the grandfather of Anna’s sister-in-law had passed away earlier in the week so we attended the wake before getting a bite to eat at a nearby hawker centre and then went to the airport. Once there we sat in the lounge and ate a bit more free food until it was time to board our six-hour flight to Incheon Airport in South Korea.
Once we had arrived, we then had to take a cab for over an hour to our hotel, the GLAD COEX Hotel in Gangnam, Seoul, but there was one small problem; I initially thought it was just affecting me, but my stomach wasn’t feeling particularly great, as tends to happen quite regularly when we travel overseas. Maybe it was the clam soup we had at the hawker centre or the bain-marie prawn soup in the lounge at the airport the previous night, but I was beginning to bloat up big time and there were moments in the cab where I thought I was going to explode, but I made it to the hotel unscathed, thanks in part to a driver who was sitting on 150 kph (93 mph) for the bulk of the way. Now there was another setback; check-in time at GLAD COEX is 3:00pm, but Anna had requested early check-in, however, the best they were able to muster up was 2:00pm so it looked like I was going to need to release the hounds in a public toilet in the foyer. Great. Actually, it wasn’t too bad, because the toilets in our hotel, and in many locations in Seoul for that matter, were enormous, private rooms, complete with super high-tech toilets. At first I thought I had inadvertently entered the disabled toilets, but there were still two things that made me a little uncomfortable about the whole situation:
- The high-tech toilets you find in places like Korea and Japan are a little intimidating when the instructions aren’t in English and the iconography on the buttons is a little vague. You may lean over and press a button with the intention of flushing, only to get a warm, vibrating bidet to the face instead for your efforts. Also, pre-warmed toilet seats generally just feel weird, like someone else has just sat there, but it was a rather cold day and I wasn’t wearing much yet so this was actually a welcome relief.
- This toilet had an automatic door that instantly opened as soon as I approached and I couldn’t find a lock on it. Would the room know I was inside or would it just place me in full view of the hotel lobby during my most vulnerable moments as soon as anyone was in the vicinity of the stall?
It turned out I wouldn’t have to wait too long, because it seemed like my worst nightmare occurred in the women’s room. A minute or so after I entered my bathroom, I heard a squeal followed someone repeatedly apologising in the area where the women’s bathroom was and that was all the proof I needed, drastic steps had to be taken. I saw a red button on the wall on the other side of the room, however, I wasn’t sure if it triggered the door lock or the emergency alarm, but I also didn’t care at this point. Any fine would be worth paying for triggering a false distress call if the flip-side of that coin was that it was indeed a lock and I could go about my business uninterrupted so I got up, pressed it, and finished the job.
When I was done, we were checked in and our luggage was being put in a spare room, waiting for us to return in two hours when our room would be ready. Our hotel was right next to the Starfield COEX Mall, a giant shopping mall that also housed the convention centre where Anna’s conference was being held, so we went down to get some coffee and something to eat. En route I told Anna about the doors in the hotel toilet and it turned out that she was having a similar stomach problem to me and that it had been her that screamed when someone walked in on her dropping the kids off at the pool!
Upon entering the mall I realised that it was absolutely massive, complete with an enormous library as its centrepiece, but I was also hit by something else, however, in order to explain it correctly I will need to back this story up a bit…
It’s not that complicated. Allow us to enlighten you. The objective is to go as long as possible without hearing WHAM’s Christmas classic, “Last Christmas“.
- The game starts on December 1st, and ends at midnight on December 24th.
Use your local timezone, if you’d like.
(Yes, we’re European heathens)
- Only the original version applies. Enjoy the f__k out of remixes and covers.
- You’re out as soon as you recognise the song.
- Post on social media with the #whamageddon hashtag when you get hit.
While we can’t stop you from deliberately sending your friends to Whamhalla, the intention is that this is a survival game. Not a Battle Royale. So … don’t be a dick, mkay?
Now, on Thursday, December 6, Anna and I were attending a Christmas party for a handful of her colleagues in Singapore and she wanted me to collect a cake she had ordered from the Lady M store in Orchard Central Mall, located on Orchard Road, Singapore’s main shopping strip and centre of all things Christmas on this tiny island. I avoid Orchard Road like the plague, but I was certain I was going to crash and burn in WHAMageddon on that venture into town, however, as luck would have it I managed to avoid my trip to WHAMhalla. The only problem was that instead I was inundated with Mariah Carey’s 1994 Christmas album, Merry Christmas. There were stores selling kitschy t-shirts with the album cover printed on them and amongst all of the awful Christmas carols, I kept hearing the main single from that album, All I Want for Christmas is You. I can’t muster up the ability to truly put into words how much I hate that song, but if I have to hear it endlessly, the least you can do is sit through it once:
That song is just awful, I’m convinced it can give you ear cancer, but the ear-worm was now installed and I would have that shit playing on loop in my head for the foreseeable future. Ironically, someone played Last Christmas at the party and I crashed out of WHAMageddon that night, a mere six days in.
Now, almost a week later, I had finally managed to get a song out of my head that is the aural equivalent of drinking orange juice immediately after brushing one’s teeth, however, the second I stepped into Starfield COEX I heard Ms. Carey’s bells start ringing. My stomach churned, not for the same reason as it did only minutes earlier, but I would just have to bite the bullet and deal with listening to All I Want for Christmas is You, unaware that I would hear it almost endlessly during our five days in Seoul.
The Starfield COEX mall is pretty cool, yet so easy to get lost in, but we found a restaurant for lunch, had a look at some of the hundreds of shops to kill time, and then we could finally make use of our hotel room. When we got up there, our room was tiny, much like my apartment back in Daejeon, and was covered with inspirational quotes, not completely unlike the ones created by InspiroBot, a computer bot designed to churn out crappy motivational quotes, often to hilarious effect. Seriously, click that link and have a go and when you’re done, take a look through some pictures of what we had seen in Seoul up until that point:
Once we had unpacked and donned some warmer clothing, we walked about an hour to explore the main shopping and dining area. A little about Gangnam:
The Gangnam District is one of the 25 local government districts which make up the city of Seoul, South Korea. Gangnam literally means “South of the River.”
As of the 2017 census, Gangnam District had a population of 561,052. Gangnam District is the third largest district in Seoul, with an area of 39.5 km2 (15.3 sq mi).
The important business district around Teheranno (Tehran Street) runs east-west from Gangnam Station to Samseong Station and the COEX Convention & Exhibition Center-Korean World Trade Center complex. Several popular shopping and entertainment areas are located in Gangnam District, including Apgujeong, the COEX Mall and the area around Gangnam Station and Garosugil.
Cheongdam-dong is notable as an upmarket shopping area, with stores of global and local luxury brands, such as MCM Haus flagship store; Vera Wang’s third global and first Asian flagship store ‘Vera Wang Bridal Korea’; as well as French jeweller Cartier’s Cartier Maison, located on Apgujeong-ro, which is the largest in Korea and at the time of opening, in 2008, the seventh largest in the world.
The area has a large concentration of vegetarian and other upscale restaurants that serve Korean cuisine with a modern twist, namely on the main street from Bongeun Temple to Park Hyatt Hotel in Samseong-dong.
And let’s not ignore this:
The webtoon My ID is Gangnam Beauty (내 ID는 강남미인!) by Gi Maeng-gi, which is about a girl who underwent plastic surgery due to being bullied because of her appearance, was released on Naver Webtoon in 2016. Its title referred to the namesake district being called the “Mecca of plastic surgery”, with the term “Gangnam beauty” being used as a pejorative term to those who undergo the process.
Neither Anna nor myself are into high-end shopping or changing our physical appearances, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t encounter centres specialising in “Gangnam beauty.” It’s common knowledge that South Korea is the cosmetic surgery capital of the world with one in three women in Seoul between the age of 19 and 29 claiming to have gone under the knife, most often for eyelid surgery, and Gangnam alone apparently has 500 aesthetic centres! We definitely saw more than our fair share over the course of our stay in Gangnam, too:
To see how prominent cosmetic procedures are in Korea, one needs to look no further than this gif of each 2013 Miss South Korea contestant (right). This isn’t one of those racist “all Asians look the same” statements, every single one of those 20 women has had at least one procedure done, again usually eyes or nose, it’s just the Korean perception of beauty and people pay thousands of dollars to achieve it here, with the surgeons following the same formulas.
Back to Gangnam itself, we spent a lot of time walking around and checking out shops, first stopping to get coffee and a cake at Ediya Coffee Lab. Maybe it was always this way or perhaps it’s just a new fad, but there are coffee shops and cafes absolutely everywhere throughout Seoul and Ediya Coffee Lab is the pièce de résistance. This gargantuan building has parking attendants and doormen to assist you into a double-storey open-space cafe that is larger than two basketball courts on each floor. It definitely was a little pretentious and we were no doubt exposed to more Mariah Carey, but we just wanted coffee and they were the nearest place. Luckily for us there was what essentially equated to a coffee sommelier to guide us on our caffeinated journey so we pulled up a seat, ordered two different coffees and a couple of cakes.
Here’s how we saw Ediya Coffee Lab:
I drink a lot of coffee, but I definitely don’t have a very sophisticated palate for it because not once did I think to myself, “Hmmm, I think I detect a note of lemongrass.” It just tasted like nice coffee, as did Anna’s, albeit with a slightly different coffee taste. We were lucky that it was nice, too, because that place is damn expensive!
We kept walking into town and despite the fact that Gangnam is know for luxury brand stores, there are a lot of back alleys and laneways with cool independent stores and plenty of bars. Anna had also found out about a street she wanted to look at that is known for having a lot of cool shops so we walked up and down there, stumbling upon some unique items including a copy of Grabb’s Encyclopaedia of Flaps in a secondhand store, a book title that kept me amused for the rest of the night. One thing I noticed while shopping in Seoul is that a lot of brands that I hadn’t really even heard of in the past twenty years, brands such as Diadora and Champion, are still really popular and have massive stores there.
Another thing that’s really popular in Korea is stores that have a menu that consists mainly of fried chicken and beer so that was the plan after we were done looking at the shops. We found a really big one that was busy, always a decent sign that it’s going to be good, and managed to get a seat. We obviously ordered beers and some fried chicken, as well as fried chicken giblets, a dried squid, and a sea-snail and noodle salad, all accompanied by the usual Korean side-dishes and a bottle of makgeolli for Anna. One thing we didn’t anticipate, however, was the size of the portions. The food was great, but there was just simply too much for us to finish so when we had had as much as we could eat, we did our usual holiday thing and found a shisha bar to hang out in for the rest of the night:
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Anna had already gotten up and gone to the conference before I woke, but I was initially shocked to read a message she had sent me telling me it had snowed during the night and the ground was all icy. I was surprised because our room had been so hot due to us not being able to turn down the heater below about 20°C (68°F), resulting in me constantly waking up during the night, sweating. I’m also not really on the ball first thing in the morning so I forgot it was winter where we were now staying.
Anna was going to be at the conference all day, as well as having dinner with some people whom were in attendance, but the previous day I had received a message from an old friend of mine, Andy “Whitty” Whitwam, who was now living in Seoul so the plan was to meet up with him and have some drinks that evening. I also wanted to have a look at some areas near where we had been on Wednesday night, as well as explore some different parts of Starfield COEX that I hadn’t seen the previous day and look at a bunch of statues near our hotel so I put on about 20 layers of clothing, grabbed a coffee and hit the street.
One of the worst fads of 2012 was the song Gangnam Style by Psy. Not only is Gangnam Style a terrible, kitschy song accompanied by an equally stupid dance (left), it was also a fad that took forever to die in Singapore, a turd that simply refused to be flushed. I was teaching a lot of Korean kids back then and I couldn’t escape this bloated tool and his stupid “horse dance,” but it wasn’t just Korean children that were obsessed with it, people of all ages and nationalities loved it for some reason. In fact, you still see people in Singapore wearing Psy t-shirts and, as of writing this piece, the video on YouTube in the link I posted above has over three billion views! Was there something I was missing or just simply didn’t get? So imagine the groans and eye-rolls my body instinctively did when I found out there was a giant statue for Gangnam Style just down the road from our hotel. It didn’t make sense to me to spend billions of dollars for a giant, bronze statue commemorating a one-hit-wonder. Do you think in Tulsa, Oklahoma there’s an MMMBop statue in honour of Hanson? Well, it turns out that Psy is no one-hit-wonder. The 40-year-old has released 31 singles to date, eight of which have gone to number one on the Korean charts. I was going to be walking past the Gangnam Style statue anyway so I thought I’d stop off and take a look and this is what I saw:
Yup, a pair of hands. I guess there just isn’t enough bronze in the world to make a statue of Psy’s entire paunchy body so they just settled on a pair of hands that look too lean to actually be based on his own. Also, apparently when you stand on the platform below the hands, the song automatically plays, but I wasn’t going to risk it. At least they tried to spin some public relations bullshit on a nearby sign by saying something to the extent of when it’s viewed from above, the statue looks as if it is cradling the earth. Anyway, long after humanity has died off, these hands will still live on on in the post-apocalyptic wasteland where Seoul once stood, something Psy himself didn’t even want to happen. Money well spent.
As well as the Gangnam Style monument, I took in some of the other snow-enveloped sculptures around our hotel, braved the barrage of Mariah Carey once again inside Starfield COEX, and then walked into a different part of the main downtown area of Gangnam, making some impulse purchases along the way and finding more great bars and interesting stores:
I had been having problems with Facebook all day and Messenger had been the only way I was able to get in touch with Whitty until now. It simply wasn’t working, but with Anna’s help I was able to contact him and, because he had never been to Gangnam during the time he had been staying in Seoul, Whitty came over to my side of town to hang out.
When he arrived, his station was surrounded by flagship stalls for super-expensive brands, but I reassured him that the whole place wasn’t like that. We strolled around for a while, looking for a good spot to settle down, all the while trying to avoid hearing All I Want for Christmas is You. We found a regular bar to start with, grabbed some beers and a pizza, and spent time catching up for the first time since he was in Singapore about 18 months ago. When I lived in Korea, my favourite local beer was Cass Red, however, thus far I had been unable to find it on this trip, it didn’t seem particularly popular on this site with the last review for it being from June, 2017 and the previous one stating that Cass Red was “very obviously meant to lead directly to inebriation,” so I guess it probably isn’t made anymore, thus I spent my time drinking Hite.
After hanging out there we decided to find a new home for the evening and we eventually found ourselves in a Czech bar, drinking dark Velkopopovický Kozel with sugar and cinnamon on the head and around the rim at Whitty’s suggestion. It might sound terrible, but this stuff is awesome when the temperature is predicted to get down to -11°C (12°F), as it was that night:
Anna came down and joined us after her dinner, carrying the extremely heavy award she had won for her presentation at the conference. We continued to drink at the Czech bar for a few more before the three of us went back to the shisha bar where Anna and I had spent the previous night. Following that, we had to go through the hell of trying to flag taxis home, it took quite a while, but we eventually managed to pull it off.
Friday, December 14, 2018
Anna was completely booked out with her conference for the bulk of the day again so, after I woke up from another sweaty half-sleep in our painfully warm room, I had a shower and I took it easy before doing a bit more exploring, this time walking the other direction from our apartment and looking around some of the backstreets. It wasn’t going to get above 0°C (32°F) for the foreseeable future so I piled on the clothes again and tried not to slide down the street. Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened for a considerable distance at one point, with me completely unable to catch any grip. I can’t surf, ski, or skate, but somehow I managed to stay on my feet and, after a while, come to a perfect stop. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Elise Christie!
There wasn’t particularly much in that part of town so I ended up just shopping again while waited to meet up with Anna, but here are some more sights I came across:
I took the photo of Lotte World Tower, not realising that I would be having dinner there later in the evening. That’s right, we were going to be attending the AVPRS President’s Dinner in Lotte World Tower:
Lotte World Tower is a 123-floor, 555-metre (1,821 ft) supertall skyscraper located in Seoul, South Korea. It opened to the public on April 11, 2017 and is currently the tallest building in South Korea, and is the 5th tallest building in the world.
We might only be dining two-thirds of the way up the building on the 76th floor, but it would still make for a great evening. I made my way back to meet up with Anna at the conference, we boarded a bus that looked like it was designed by Donald Trump if he were younger and Asian, and soon we were on our way to the conference. Once there we were ushered to our seats and forced to sit through a Korean “cultural show” which consisted of beatboxing and Korean hip-hop. This then transformed into a stage-show, first based on a cooking programme similar to Masterchef, then in an Italian restaurant where a woman in attendance was dragged up on stage and had to nervously sit through being forced to be seduced anxiously by her colleague on a faux-date in front of everyone, all the while the sound effects were done by beatboxers, two girls stood around and tried to look cute, and spontaneous breakdancing broke out. The entertainment was pretty lame, but what was fun was looking at crowd’s reception. I can’t help but think of this as possibly one of the worst cases of reading an audience I have ever seen; The show was clearly something that would normally be aimed at adolescents or even younger, but was being performed in front of a demographic that was essentially a bunch of professors and their wives from across Europe and Asia, almost all in their 50s or 60s. To be honest, Anna and myself were probably the two youngest people in the room. Nobody else had a clue what was going on, they just stared on in a confused way and clapped out of sheer courtesy.
On the flip side, the view and the meal itself were spectacular:
After dinner we went back to the rooftop bar at the hotel where most of the guests at the conference were staying and had a few relaxing drinks, interrupted briefly once again by Ms. Carey wailing about how she doesn’t want that much for Christmas, just me. When we got back to our hotel, we mentioned how hot our room was and the receptionist’s solution was a simple one — open the window slightly, despite the fact that it had been snowing.
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Saturday was going to be a packed day and the first item on the agenda was I was to meet another old friend. If you looked at the pictures from when I used to teach in Daejeon in 2007, you’ll notice in the last photo a tall, Korean woman to my immediate left. This is Christina Eunjoo Kim, one of my former colleagues and good friends during my time there. In fact, when we were holding a reading class together, she managed to convince the entire class that I was her real brother, but I had had a lot of cosmetic surgery done, that’s why we looked nothing alike. Christina and I last met up when she visited Singapore with one of her daughters a couple of years ago and now today she was going to take a two-hour bus-ride down from Daejeon to hang out for a few hours. Her initial plan was to come down on Friday night and stay with another friend, but that fell through so Christina caught a bus to Seoul on Saturday morning just to meet up with me.
I finally slept well due to our room not feeling like a sauna so I showered and went downstairs and Christina was waiting in the lobby. We grabbed a cup of coffee each and then walked toward the main area of Gangnam to explore lunch options, eventually stumbling upon a seafood bibimbap place where we just ate and chatted. After lunch we walked around, looking at the shops back in Starfield COEX and drinking more coffee in Bricklive Cafe, a Lego-themed coffee shop, but before long Christina had to be back on the bus back to Daejeon for another engagement that night. Still, it was great meeting up:
Next on the to-do list was to have dinner with Hyewon, one of Anna’s old Korean colleagues from when they were both working in New York who is now based back in Seoul, and her husband, a cosmetic surgeon. They drove us out to a great restaurant that they had booked and, just like lunch with Christina, we sat around eating and chatting as course after course was brought out to us. A lot of the conversation revolved around medicine so while this was happening, I continued to stuff my face, especially on a grilled, fermented fish.
Soon dinner was over and we were back in their car, being driven back to our hotel, but I began to bloat up again midway through the drive to the point where it was really starting to get uncomfortable and I thought I might actually need to undo my pants. I realised what was causing the problem and I also understood that relief could be acquired by releasing a massive fart, but that is something you definitely don’t want to do in a stranger’s new, white-seated car after gorging yourself on fermented fish all night.
After what seemed like an eternity we were finally back at the hotel and I could finally take care of that matter before we went down to The Timber House, a music bar in the basement of the next-door Park Hyatt Hotel, for a few drinks on a Saturday night. You can probably already tell where this story is going. We were seated comfortably with our drinks while an entire Kylie Minogue album played in the background. Then it happened; the guy in charge of the music reached into one of many giant cabinets of records, pulled out one with a predominantly white cover with a red blob on it and I knew immediately what it was — He had grabbed Merry Christmas by Mariah Carey and went straight to All I Want for Christmas is You. I let out a rather audible groan while Anna just pissed herself laughing. Still, it was a fun night:
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Our final day in Seoul was upon us and Anna was going to spend it chairing a session at the conference, while I met up with Whitty again, this time around his ‘hood, Yongsan. I forgot what a massive, sprawling city Seoul is so I caught a train out to meet Whitty and when I found him our first port of call was an underground flea market. This flea market had some great record stores so we spent a substantial amount of time looking through those before surfacing again to take a look along the streets and try some of the street-food, first an octopus skewer and, later after Anna had arrived, a giant blow-torched, cheese-covered mussel.
Whitty and his girlfriend, Hayley, were traveling to Vietnam the following day so he, Anna, and myself went back to their place to collect their dog and take it to a dog hotel on our way to having some spectacular Korean barbecue for dinner, the first time on this trip. We then stopped off at a couple of their favourite neighbourhood bars, but none of us could have a big night, because we were all flying out the next day.
Still, it was a good day, I think I managed to completely avoid Mariah Carey for the first time since we had arrived in Seoul, here are some of the highlights:
Our trip to Seoul would soon be over as we made our way to the airport the following morning and it seemed more like visiting a country for the first time, rather than returning to a one where I used to live, but it was still incredible to be back, despite an endless barrage of Mariah Carey Christmas music that didn’t cease even when we returned to Singapore and was playing on loop in my head at times when I wasn’t physically hearing it. I just want to wrap up by saying thank you to Christina for making the effort to catch a bus all the way from Daejeon to Seoul just to hang out for a few hours, as well as to Whitty and Hayley for sharing a couple of fun nights with us.
Also, I always feel proud when Anna gets special recognition for her work, even when she never mentions it so I’ll just leave this picture I stumbled upon from AVPRS 2018 here: