Korea is a nation that boasts a fast growing economy and a lifestyle that brings together the old and the new. Once known simply as a quiet nation in the East, the peninsula now hardly sleeps as it pulsates with life and commerce. Numerous branch offices of international corporations and businesses as well as most western franchises can be found throughout the country with many global events taking place here annually. Despite the country’s quick transition to a modern society, Koreans still greatly value their 5 millennia of culture and history as well as the Confucian philosophy that have governed Korea since the time of their ancestors. The peninsula features so many scenic mountains and rivers that Koreans have often likened their country to beautifully embroidered brocade.
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Experiencing Seoul: The Best of the City
Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first royal palace built by the Joseon Dynasty, three years after the Joseon Dynasty was founded.
Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace was located at the heart of newly appointed capital of Seoul (then known as Hanyang) and represented the sovereignty of the Joseon Dynasty. The largest of the Five Grand Palaces (the others being Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace), Gyeongbokgung served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty.An effort by the Korean government has been ongoing since 1990 to rebuild and restore the buildings that were destroyed during the Japanese occupation. This 40-year restoration project aims to fully restore Gyeongbokgung Palace to its original form in the next twenty years. The palace also houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea.
Namsan Seoul Tower
Namsan Seoul Tower was built in 1969 as Korea's first integrated transmission tower beaming television and radio broadcasts across the capital..
Since opening to the public in 1980, it has become a much-loved Seoul landmark. The tower's main attractions include multi-colored digital art projected onto the tower at night, a digital observatory, a roof terrace, the HanCook restaurant, the n.Grill restaurant, and the Haneul (Sky) Restroom. Namsan Seoul Tower's mountain surroundings on Namsan Mountain have made it a popular place to unwind for locals and tourists alike.Seoul has a number of viewing platforms where visitors can enjoy the nighttime cityscape or gaze out onto the Hangang (River) but the tower's Digital Observatory is unique, offering an astonishing 360 degree panorama over the city, and 32 LCD screens recounting the 600-year history of Seoul. That is why the observatory is so popular and such a source of pride.Situated on top of the N Plaza, the Roof Terrace is a spacious wooden viewing deck whose exotic atmosphere makes it very popular with lovers. A recent attraction for courting couples is "Locks of Love," thousands of padlocks attached to the fence by romantic Seoulites symbolizing their undying affection.
Insa-dong, located in the heart of the city, is an important place where old but precious and traditional goods are on display.
Nowhere exudes more local and traditional charm than Insa-dong, a quaint neighborhood in the center of Seoul that transports visitors back to a time when women wore hanbok and men rode horses. With its wooden tea houses, boutique galleries and street vendors selling traditional snacks, a stroll through Insa-dong is mandatory for all visitors, especially on Sundays when the streets become traffic free and come alive with street performances, buskers and throngs of young and old who have come to experience one of Seoul’s most fascinating and creative neighborhoods. While the entertainment here is free, Insa-dong is also one of the best places in Seoul to purchase traditional Korean art, products, and other souvenirs, as it is filled with antique shops, art galleries, traditional stationery shops, handicraft shops, pottery and porcelain shops, bookstores, and art supply stores. Insa-dong is also home to many traditional restaurants and tea houses.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
DDP selected as one of the "Top 52 Places to Visit in 2015" by the New York Times and was the most Instagram tagged location in Korea in the year 2015
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry. Located at the center of the Dongdaemun area, the DDP will serve as a key venue for design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions, and other events and gatherings.Designed by world renowned architect, Zaha Hadid, DDP is the world’s largest atypical architecture. The DDP is comprised of five halls: Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. The Art Hall is the primary launch pad for the Korean creative industry. The hall is a key venue for conventions, trade shows, exhibitions, fashion shows, concerts and performances. The Museum Hall brings together Korean design and global trends. The Museum Hall is comprised of five sections: Design Playground, Design Dulle-gil(trail), Design Museum, Design Exhibition Hall, and the Design Rest Area. The Design Lab serves as an incubator for rising Korean and international creative product designers. The Design Market is a multipurpose space that combines culture, experiences and shopping. This hall is open 24 hours a day to provide added convenience to visitors of Dongdaemun Market, the town that never sleeps.The Dongdaemun History & Culture Park is the newest park in downtown Seoul. The park gives a glimpse of how the area was once used as a military training ground during the Joseon dynasty. The park seamlessly extends onto the rooftop of DDP, making it a truly unique park in Korea.
Myeong-dong is Seoul’s shopping mecca and is a must-see for tourists, but it is not just a shopping destination; Myeong-dong is also a hub of commerce, banking and culture with a daytime population of 1.5-2 million.
For shoppers there is a mixture of street stalls and retail outlets selling everything from high fashion to casual attire, as well as many Korean cosmetics stores offering high-quality products at competitive prices.Myeong-dong is very popular with international visitors and fills with Japanese and Chinese tourists during the holiday period known as “Golden Week” which takes place in spring and is called golden week due to the week-long holiday period that takes place in Japan and China. Part of Myeong-dong’s popularity stems from relatively affordable prices here, especially compared to the other shopping meccas of Apgujeong-dong and Cheongdam-dong.
Dongdaemun Market is a large commercial district comprised of traditional markets and shopping centers that covers the entire area around Dongdaemun Gate, a prominent landmark in Korea.
Dongdaemun Market is traditionally famous for its night market, this popular shopping district attracts hordes of shoppers and tourists at all times of day. Like Namdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Market sells a variety of products, but unlike Namdaemun Market, it is open 24-hours a day. The powerful appeal of Dongdaemun Market stems from the fact that you can buy everything you need at a reasonable price, in one convenient location and at anytime. Most major wholesalers and retailers are here along with specialist outlets focusing on the youth market, making Dongdaemun Market the best place to find the latest fashions at bargain prices. Dongdaemun’s famous food alley, Mukja Golmok, is also essential for anyone wanting to check out the latest trends in Korean cuisine.
Cheonggyecheon is a 10.9-kilometre-long (6.8 mi), modern public recreation space in downtown Seoul, South Korea. The massive urban renewal project is on the site of a stream that flowed before the rapid post-war economic development caused it to be covered by transportation infrastructure.
Created as part of an urban renewal project, Cheonggyecheon is a restoration of the stream that was once there before during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The stream was covered with an elevated highway after the Korean War (1950-1953), as part of the country's post-war economic development. Then in 2003, the elevated highway was removed to restore the stream to its present form today. The stream starts from Cheonggye Plaza, a popular cultural arts venue, and passes under a total of 22 bridges before flowing into the Hangang (River), with many attractions along its length.Cheonggyecheon’s turbulent history is on display at the Cheonggyecheon Museum which opened in September 2005. The museum offers visitors the chance to learn about the many changes the stream has seen, including being buried underground and being restored. The story is told with the help of a scale-model and period photographs. Admission is free.
Seoul City Wall
Excursions Along The Wall. The wall, which follows the ridges of Baegak (Bugaksan), Naksan (Naktasan), Namsan (Mongmyeoksan) and Inwangsan, the four main mountains surrounding the center of Seoul, has been constantly managed since its initial construction in 1396.
The Seoul City Wall was originally built in 1396, surrounding Hanyang (present-day Seoul) during the Joseon Period (1392-1987). The wall stretches for 18.6km along the ranges of Bugaksan (Mt.), Naksan (Mt.), Namsan (Mt.), and Inwangsan(Mt.), and stands at average height of 7~8m.The Seoul City wall consisted of eight gates which were originally built between 1396-1398, but only six remain today. The North, South, East, and West gates of the wall are known as the “Four Great Gates” (Sukjeongmun, Heunginjimun, Sungnyemun, Dongeuimun), while the Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southwest gates are known as the “Four Small Gates” (Changuimun, Hyehwamun, Gwanghwamun, Soeuimun).