The train tickets from Seoul to Busan got booked today. It looks like my first Korean train ride will be on a midnight train because that was the only one available. I got on the KORAIL website as soon as I could (2pm today) but it it was still almost too late: all but two trains were sold out. Granted, this is during the Chuseok weekend, but we're taking the slower Mugunghwa train instead of the fast KTX, but it didn't matter as that many people will ride the rails over the holidays here. I can only imagine what the highways will look like.
Matt in Dong Song had given us some this bit of info: Train tickets go on sale on KORAIL's English website after they go on sale on the Korean website. Rochelle and I probably snagged two of the last seats on the train. Let that stand as a lesson learned: Have a Korean friend or associate help you book train tickets on the Korean KORAIL site because you'll have a better chance of getting the train you want. Frankly, I'm not thrilled that we're leaving at 9pm and arriving at 2:15am, but that's how it goes. It isn't for lack of trying.
Getting the tickets for the late train also prompted this problem: whether or not the our hotel would let us check in at such an hour. Generally, check-in times for Korean hotels last from 2pm to midnight, so I had to make sure we wouldn't get called no-shows. Mrs. Jeong the co-teacher provided valuable help here because she got on the phone with the motel (he didn't spoke much English) and asked him if he could hold the room for us. He could indeed do it. Problem solved. We have hotel and the train tickets now, so we're set. I'd hope to see the countryside on the way there, but it looks like that will happen on the return trip instead. Either way sounds fine.
Good luck to anyone booking tickets out there.