South Korea: Part II

Oh we saw and did a lot during our time touring this tourist delight. Perhaps my most favorite part of my time here was the food! Meat lovers have a lot to look forward to if visiting South Korea. Koreans definitely know how to eat. Aside from the very tasty Korean Barbecues there are many good and cheap food stalls to try. The truth is I enjoyed everything I ate and I ate a lot!

Food

We ate at several restaurants, tried various street food stalls but the place that stood out to me the most as a place worth visiting for food galore was Gwangjang Market. This place was awesome. The food selection is nice and the prices are fair, I highly suggest coming here if you are a foodie and wish to break away from sightseeing for a little while. But just like every other popular place in Seoul, expect to run into large crowds of other foodies.

Shopping

If you enjoy shopping then you’ll definitely enjoy shopping in Seoul. There are a number of worthwhile places to shop at such as: Myeong-dong Station, Namdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Market, Gangnam Station and the Coex Mall. My two favorite places on this list are Myeong-dong Station and Namdaemun Market. Myeong-dong Station is a very popular shopping area with many food stalls and restaurants, but keep in mind that this place is always busy. Just a train stop away is my favorite shopping area, Namdaemun Market, this place is great for buying fairly priced gifts and souvenirs. Don’t miss this place if you are in the mood for some shopping. 

North Seoul Tower

Within walking distance of Myeong-dong Station is Seoul’s second highest structure, North Seoul Tower. It’s an observation and communication tower. The Namsan Cable Car is the means most people use to reach the tower from the street. As you can imagine this is a very popular attraction were tourists and locals all come together to gaze at the city’s landscape especially during the evening hours when the city lights up. Expect to pay a fee to ride the cable car and another fee to reach the observation deck of the tower.

There is also a ‘padlocks of love’ section were couples wishing for long lasting love or love seeking hopefuls come to petition their hearts desires by leaving behind a padlock. The N Seoul Tower in general is a pretty romantic setting and the view from the observation deck is spectacular. It earned my vote as my favorite observation deck between the few that I experienced whilst traveling in East Asia. N Seoul Tower should not be missed, it was a fun experience for sure; expect long waiting times and heavy crowds since it’s a very popular attraction.

 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

What can I say – i’m a sucker for bright and shiny lights! I was immediately attracted to this site when I began building our itinerary. This plaza is highly praised for its unique design. It looks like a space ship or something from out of this world thanks to the unique and futuristic construction. It is part of the History and Culture Park Station. It is used as venue for art performances and exhibits.

In the rear of the structure you’ll find a LED Rose Garden that holds over 25,000 lit up roses. It’s beautiful here and a really nice way to end an evening. If you want to see something unique I highly recommend visiting DDP.

Bongeunsa Temple

Bongeunsa Temple is just across the street from the COEX Mall. It is a very active temple that truly contrasts the hustle and bustle around. It’s a tranquil place that keeps its doors open to those who wish to pray. It was relaxing to walk through the grounds and to get a good glimpse of a Korean temple. 

War Memorial of Korea

This place is truly amazing. I love going to museums while traveling to foreign countries to learn of their history. And the War Memorial of Korea does a great job at teaching its guests the grim truth of Korean military history.

The monuments and statues found on the outer grounds are largely significant each telling a story of a changed Korea. The Statue of Brothers, a South Korean soldier grasping his North Korean soldier brother in a divided Korea – stood out the most to me as it gave the first glimpse of what to expect inside the museum. There are about 100 outdoor displays, some replicas and others genuine war machines. Inside there are over 13,000 items displayed through many different exhibits each recounting different sides of Korea’s military history.

We spent the majority of the day here though we thought it would only take a couple of hours. In the end we left feeling very different than how we came. We left with a deep understanding of Korea’s difficult history that is yet to be fully resolved. Our visit here sure gave contrast and perspective to the rest of our time in Seoul. South Korea is an awesome country to visit and it has a lot to offer its guests but that didn’t come without sacrifice.

As I mentioned in my previous post we saw and did a lot. This trip to South Korea was special since it included a family reunion of sorts. It had been many years since I had seen a good family friend I grew up with and when he told me he was to be stationed near Seoul, we started making plans for a rendezvous. My wife, he and I met in Seoul and spent several days touring the city and we had a great time as you can see.  South Korea is an awesome country to visit. I would of highly considered living and teaching here if I hadn’t already chosen Japan. You can’t go wrong with visiting South Korea, this place is fantastic. Happy travels!

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