Seoul

Posted on December 14, 2009

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Here are the bits and pieces of Seoul that I discovered during my stay.

DSCF2056 įrišimas A stunning panorama of Seoul from mount Ingwansan on a bright December’s day. The high-rises of central Seoul surround the 262-meter peak called Namsan with the N Seoul tower on top of it.

Building 63 092Just a few of 27 bridges over the Han river in Seoul. Seoul is also called “a miracle on the Han river” for its rise from the total destruction of the Korean war to one of the most developed and advanced cities in the world.

Suwon 029Suwon, a small city of one million people 48km south of Seoul is connected to Seoul with a subway line. It boasts a spectacular 18th century Hwaseong fortress.

DSCF1954 Dongdaemun, erected in the 14th century as a Great Eastern Gate of the Seoul fortress now gives its name to a huge market

DSCF1165 Seoul would not be Seoul without food stalls around every corner. I wonder what a North Korean refugee thinks when he first sees all this food available right on the streets.

DSCF1158 Seoul’s beauty shops use very aggressive promotion: girls like the one in the photo try to grab everyone’s attention by using loudspeakers and a promise of a “free present” upon entrance.

DSCF1079 Seoul has an impressive subway system, which makes getting around fast and easy, although the trains can be quite crowded at peak hours.

DSCF1972Flags of all nations, that supported South Korea during the Korean War in front of the War Memorial Museum in Seoul

DSCF2024 Shamanists believe that spirits need food and drink so they make sure enough is available next to a shamanist shrine at mountain Inwangsan, to the amusement of a local cat population (I spotted a few cats carrying large chunks of raw meat stolen from the shrine).

Insa-dong 018Insadong is a popular tourist district in Seoul offering a variety of souvenir shops, cafes, art galleries and tea shops. It has its own charm and feels distinctly Korean (and although Starbucks is present too, it is said to be the only one in the world with its name written in the local language).

Dongdae-mun 104The breath-taking panorama of skyscrapers at central Seoul by night.

DSCF1364 A typical small Korean restaurant in Seoul,  where food is usually very tasty and cheap and you never have to wait for your order more than 5-10 minutes.

Seoul 069Small businesses like this one thrive in Seoul. The Korean social security system is not as generous as in Europe and some elderly people have to work to make ends meet.

Myeong-dong 013 Myeongdong is a shopping district bustling with life day and night. Its a showpiece of Korean urge for everything western and modern. Myeongdong is an exact opposite to Insadong and no western brand represented here is in need to cheat by writing its name in Korean.

Chuseok 026Korean folk dance performed during Chuseok celebration in front of the National Museum of Korea. Chuseok is a Korean harvest festival celebrated in Autumn, it is a time when Seoul feels empty as a lot of Koreans return to their home towns to pay respect to the spirits of their ancestors.

DSCF1263 A newly opened monument for King Sejong the Great, who is most famous for creating Hangul, the modern Korean alphabet. This easy-to-learn alphabet enabled all Koreans to read and write.

Seoul 098If I had to choose single most defining landmark of Seoul it would be The N Seoul tower.

Insadong 023Happy buddhist monks in Seoul.

Chuseok 169Ancient relicts at the National Museum of Korea.

DSC00247Like most of the public signs in Korea, this one looks like a cartoon.

DSCF1958 US Military still maintains heavy presence in South Korea with 24,800 troops and headquarters at Yongsan garrison in Seoul. This is a sign on a fence of Yongsan garrison. Building 63 151“Dream gallery” on the 60th floor of Building 63 in Seoul with rather down-to-earth dreams:  “a good job, pass CFA, find a right husband (maybe Korean), become a more disciplined, motivated person, hopefully being able to make the right decisions in life“.

Seoul 072There are really few places in Seoul where you can still admire the old architecture, the new glass and steel buildings quickly overtook the skyline after the Korean War.

Dongdae-mun 027Finding an exact location in Seoul might be hard, even for a local or a taxi driver as most smaller streets still don’t have names and a complex East Asian address system is being used.

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Posted in: Korea