"Seoul: Energy in the Land of the Morning Calm" Top 5 Page for this destination Seoul by AKtravelers
Seoul Travel Guide: 3,199 reviews and 8,349 photos
Seoul is a city of contrasts. It is the heartbeat of the modern South Korean economy, but the historical capital of most Korean governments. I know people who passed through it during the Korean War who remember it as a mud-filled backwater teeming with oxen drawn carts. Yet I know it as a sophisticated city of skyscrapers and legendary (car) traffic jams. To be sure, all this change must be jarring to older Koreans, who are traditionally very conservative, but the younger generation is reveling in it! Seoul is a hopping place.
Never forget how big and international Seoul is. It has 10 million people, all of whom seem to be on the road during rush hour. Even by subway, it can sometimes take over an hour to get from one point in the city to another. On a recent trip, I discovered that there are 22 Outback restaurants -- two within 100 meters of each other.
Seoul is a comsmopolitan international capital, full of expatriates. The best place to experience this is Itaewon, the former foreigner's ghetto from the late 19th century. There you'll here Korean, Russian, English, Tagalog and French among other languages.
Despite Seoul's size, it never seems that big. It's a collection of "dongs", or neighborhoods, each with their own character. And almost all of them are filled with small shops or small restaurants that bring human-sized dimensions to this spawling megopolis.
Amazingly, all this energy and growth is happening within artillery range of North Korea. Though the situation seems less tense now, in 1994 Kim Il Sung threatened to turn Seoul into a "sea of flames" and he could have. Seoul is only 25 miles from the most heavily-armed border in the world, but you don't notice much of a military presence around the city. Many of the soldiers you see out, like this group, seem to be enjoying themselves. Military service is an obligation for all South Korean males.
Tensions between North and South ebb and flow, but right now some people are even starting to think about unification. This is something all Koreans want, but differ on how to best deal with the North to achieve it.
Rufus doesn't seem to have differences with anyone. You'll see photos of Rufus throughout these pages. His grandfather fought in the Korean War, and he was anxious to visit Seoul.
- Pros:Friendly People, Improving Tourist Infrastructure
- Cons:Horrible Air Pollution
Outside Seoul's new National Museum is an equally new pagoda garden, just opened in December 2005. However, the pagodas... more travel advice
When my mother visited Seoul in 1976, she returned with stories about kimchi jars being everywhere in Seoul -- in... more travel advice
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AKtravelers' Related Pages
Seoul Travel Guide
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- "Welcome to The Land of Big Smog"
- "Return to Seoul"
- "Seoul - My favorite place on Earth!"
- "Seoul: Energy in the Land of the Morning Calm"
- "Organized Chaos --> Seoul, South Korea"
- "Seoul, Capital of Korea"
- "Backpacking Korea in Winter / Spring"
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- 87 Photos
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- 8 Comments
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