I took my coworker's recommendation and went shopping for a plane ticket on Kayak.com last night. Sure enough, Kayak offers tickets that are way cheaper than anything you'll find on a more standard site like Orbitz.com. Orbitz and its ilk showed me nothing below $1000; Kayak, by contrast, offered tickets for $757 and $816. I went for the slightly more expensive option because the cheapest option would have routed me through Shanghai via some ratty, no-name Chinese airline. The ticket I purchased, by contrast, goes from Seoul to San Francisco to Chicago to DC, then back along the same route. On the way back, I've got a nine-hour layover in San Fran, but I'm pretty sure I'll keep sane by continuing to reread the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Thirty hours en route, in all.
Travel dates: departing Seoul October 14; arriving DCA (National Airport) that same calendar day, but at 11:50PM. Leaving DC on October 19 and arriving back in Seoul on the 21st, thanks mainly to that damn layover.* My brother Sean's birthday is on the 15th; the wedding rehearsal is the following day; the actual wedding is on the day after that—on the 17th. I check out of my hotel on the morning of the 18th, drive back to Fredericksburg, have dinner with a former student that evening, then depart for Korea the following day.
So that's the plan. I've got the ticket, so now I need to get a hanbok.
*The cheapest route, the one with the Chinese airline, would have taken three calendar days—another reason not to go to the bottom of the barrel. Rule of economics: sometimes, when you go to the bottom of the barrel, you get bent over the barrel.