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National Theater of Korea - Seoul
National Theater of Korea The National Theater of Korea Review

I'm not a theater fanatic, but the National Theater of Korea does have an interesting history. Located in Jangchung-dong, it is said t be Asia's first federally funded and operated theater. The NTOK was established in 1950.

On Independence Day, 15 August 1974, then President Park Chung-hee was giving a speech at the theater. A North Korean sympathizer, Mun Se-gwang, entered the theater with a gun in an attempt to assassinate the President. Mun accidentally shot himself, then rushed the podium, pulling the trigger four more times. One bullet hit the podium near the President, one was a misfire, another struck the President's wife, and the final bullet hit a Korean flag on the stage. Mun was captured, but not before a student was killed in the cross fire, and the President's wife rushed to the hospital. Once safe, the President amazingly resumed his speech, then picked up his wife's belongings and left for the hospital. Later that night, the first lady, Yuk Young-soo, was pronounced dead.

The President himself was assassinated five years later by the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, and the President and First Lady were buried together in the National Cemetery in Seoul.

Address: Jangchungdan-gil 158, Jung-gu, Seoul

Phone: 82+2+2280-4114

Website: http://www.ntok.go.kr/

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Sep 3, 2014
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Changing of the Guards - Seoul
Changing of the Guards Royal Guard Changing Ceremony Review

In Seoul, the changing of the guards at the royal palaces is a major attraction for tourists. Gyeongbokgung and Deoksugung have ceremonies where Sumungun, or gatekeepers, are swapped out under the command of their leader, the Sumunjang. The ceremonies are said to replicate the changing of the guard procedures from 1469.

The changing of the guards at Deoksugung: http://www.visitseoul.net/en/article/article.do?_method=view&art_id=168&lang=en&m=0004003002001&p=03

The changing of the guards at Gyeongbokgung: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=292853

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Sep 3, 2014
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- Seoul
Seoul World Cup Stadium * * * Seoul World Cup Stadium Review

The Seoul World Cup stadium was completed in 2001 for the 2002 World Cup, which was jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan. The stadium's 64,000 spectators are covered by a unique, lightweight fabric roof covering which has an opening over the field. Though I am not a big soccer fan, I was impressed by SWCS because of the efforts taken to make it useful after the World Cup. Inside the stadium, there is a large shopping mall and great food court. Outside of the stadium are five large parks which attract people from all over Seoul on the weekends.

I was there one day wandering around the park area with no umbrella when a huge downpour began, completely out of the blue. We got soaked on our way from the hillside next to the stadium back to the subway.

Address: 515 Seongsan-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea

Phone: (02) 3707-8282

Website: http://www.lifeinkorea.com/Travel2/300

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Sep 2, 2014
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Seodaemun Independence Park - Seoul
Seodaemun Independence Park Seodaemun Independence Park Review

Seodaemun Independence Park is an impressive park just west of central Seoul that celebrates the Korean independence movements of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The park contains numerous historical attractions including, Seodaemun Prison, built in 1907; Independence Gate, completed in 1897; Yeongeunmun Gate; the Patriotic Martyr Monument; Independence Hall, a reconstructed building originally from 1407; a statue of Seo Jae-pil, a famous Korean independence activist; Korea's Declaration of Independence Monument; and Independence Square.

The park underwent a massive renovation in 2009 to allow for greater access to these important sites.

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  • Written Aug 31, 2014
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Dongnimmun Independence Gate - Seoul
Dongnimmun Independence Gate Dongnimmun Independence Gate Review

Dongnimmun, or Korea's Independence Gate, is located in Seodaemun Independence Park near the prison of the same name. It was built from November 1896 to November 1897 and was modeled after Paris' Arc de Triomphe. Intended as a symbol of the desire for Korean independence, a movement that was finally successful after World War II. Dongnimmun now marks the entrance to Seodaemun Independence Park, which underwent an extensive renovation in 2009, once again opening the Independence Gate for the people of Korea to pass.

Address: Dongnimmun, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul-si

Directions: Dongnimmun Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) Exit 4, walk 5 minutes

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  • Written Aug 31, 2014
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- Seoul
Unhyeongung (운현궁) Palace * Unhyeongung Palace Review

The small Unhyeongung (운현궁) palace is located just south of Anguk Station. Unhyeongung is famous as the birthplace of King Gojong, and the residence of his father, Prince Regent Daewon-gun. One of the major areas in the palace is Norak-dang hall where King Gojong and Queen Min were married.

Prince Regent Daewon-gun's descendants owned the palace until it was sold to the Seoul government in 1993. It took three years to restore the palace, but it is smaller than the original as Duksung Women's University occupies part of the grounds. Some of the buildings now have mannequins dressed in various styles from Korean history.

During my last visit to this palace, I watched traditional Korean dancers on a stage near the front entrance.

Entrance fee used to be around 500 or 1,000 Won, but it is free as of 2014,

Address: 114-10 Unni-dong, Jongro-Gu, Seoul, Korea

Directions: Anguk Station

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 16, 2014
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- Seoul
Jongmyo (종묘) Royal Shrine * * * Jongmyo Shrine Review

Jongmyo has two shrines, one housing the ancestral tablets for the great kings and one for the not so great kings, queens and others. Jongmyo makes for a nice hour stroll.

It was built in 1394 by order of King Taejo and expanded by King Sejong who built the Yeongnyeongjeon Hall. The original buildings were destoryed by the Japanese in the 1590s, then the entire complex was rebuilt in 1601 and still survives today. Jongmyo has 19 chambers for 19 kings and their 30 queens. Two kings are not enshrined here.

When constructed, this was thought ot be the longest building in Asia, and is still the longest building of Korean traditional construction in existence.

Jongmyo (종묘) is located across a walking bridge from Changgyeongung. Back in the old days, paying the entrance fee to one allowed you free access the other if you use this bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge has been torn down... fortunately, they are building a tunnel for the road that runs between the two sites, and by mid 2015, they will be reconnected.

Five minutes from the Jongno 3 Station, exit 8.

Directions: The front entrance is east of Jongno Station. The back entrance is via Changgyeongung.

Website: http://www.lifeinkorea.com/Travel2/77

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 16, 2014
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Bosingak (Bell Tower) * Bosingak - Bell Tower Review

Bats in the belfry? Nope, they're just my bells, baby.

Bosingak's belfry housed the Seoul city bell which was rung to open and close the city gates each day. It was originally built in 1396 at Insadong, then was move to Jongno in 1413, and rebuilt in 1440. Like everything else in the free world, it was destroyed during the Japanese invasion of 1592, then rebuilt in 1619. Destroyed twice more, this time by fire, and rebuilt twice more in the 1600s and 1800s. Destroyed again during the Korean War, the present Bosingak was completed in 1979.

Bosingak is located on Jongno which is Korean for "Bell Street", near the entrance to Jonggak Station on Line 1.

Address: 54, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Website: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264135

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 6, 2014
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DMZ - Panmungak - Seoul
DMZ - Panmungak DMZ - DeMilitarized Zone - Tours Review

ُThe most impressive building on the North Korean side of the Joint Security Area is called Panmungak. This gray, three-story structure was completed in August 1969, and it houses the North Korean JSA guards and it serves as a waiting are of North Koreans participating in talks with the South. This facility is occasionally open to the North Korean people who visit the DMZ.

When people visit the south side of the JSA, northern soldiers stand watch with binoculars. Occasionally you will also see a curtain pulled up in Panmungak so a guard can snap pictures of visitors.

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  • Updated May 18, 2013
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DMZ - USO Tours - Seoul
DMZ - USO Tours DMZ - DeMilitarized Zone - Tours Review

The United Services Organization, in conjunction with Koridoor Tours, offers numerous DMZ tours each week. For 96,000 Won per person (in 2013), you will take a bus from downtown Seoul to the DMZ. Stops include the Third Tunnel of Aggression, the Dora Observatory, Dorasan Station, Camp Bonifas, and the Joint Security Area. Some tours also have a stop for dinner at a cafeteria at the Inter-Korean Transit Office next to Dorasan Station.

The highlight of the tours is the visit to the Joint Security Area. The other stops tend to be a bit boring and time consuming, and they may feel like a waste of time if your visit in Korea is short.

The USO is located in Yongsan-gu near the National War Memorial. Located about 5 minutes north of Samgakji Station.

Phone: 02-792-3380 ext. #1

Website: http://affiliates.uso.org/korea/

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 17, 2013
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