63 City Building / Aegibong / Akhyeon Cathedral / Amisan / Angbuilgu / Anglican church / Anseong / Apgujeong / Blue House / Bosingak / Bukchon Hanok Village / Bugak skyway / Chamseongdan / Changdeokgung Palace / Changgyeonggung Palace / Cheonggyecheon / China town / Chojijin / City Hall /City tour bus / Daehangno / Deokjinjin / Deoksugung Palace / Dongdaemun / DDP / Dongdaemun market / Dongsipjagak / Dorasan station / Ehwa Women's University / Everland / Flea market
Gahoe Minhwa Museum / Ganghwa dolmen / Ganghwa History Museum / Ganghwa Island / Gapgot Dondae / Geoncheonggung / Geunjeongjeon / Goyang (Ilsan) / Goryeo Palace Site / Guksadang / Gwanghwamun / Gwanghwamun Plaza / Gwangjang Market / Gyeongbokgung Palace / Gyeongcheonsa pagoda / Gyeonghoeru / Gyeong-in Ara Waterway / Gwangju / Gwangseongbo / Hangang River / Hangang River cruise / Heyri / Hongdae Ipgu / Hwaseong fortress / Hyangwonjeong / Icheon / Icheon Termeden / Imjingak / Incheon / Incheon Landing Operation / Incheon Port / Independence Gate / Injeongjeon / Insa-dong / Itaewon
Jagyeongjeon / Jamsil Stadium / Jayu Park / Jeong-dong / Jibokjae / Jjimjilbang / Jogyesa Temple / Jongmyo Shrine / Kilometer Zero Marker / Korea House / Korean Folk Village / Korea Furniture Museum /Lamp museum / Leeum, Samsung museum of Art / Lotte World / Manisan / Mirinae / Mok-A museum / Myeongdong / Myeongdong Cathedral / Namdaemun / Namdaemun Market / Namsangol Hanok Village / Namsadang / Namsangol traditional garden / Namsan Park / National Arboretum / National Assembly / National Museum of Korea / National Theater / N Seoul Tower / Noraebang / North Gate / Northwest Gate / Noryangjin fish market
Pagoda Park / Panmunjeom / Royal Guard Changing Ceremony / Royal procession paintings
Saenamteo Martyr site / Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church / Secret Garden / Seodaemun Prison / Seongnam /
Seonjeongjeon / Seoul / Seoul Anglican Church / Seoul Art Center / Seoul Land / Seoul station / Seoul Yangnyeongsi / Sihwa Lake / Suwon
The 1st Tunnel / The 3rd Tunnel / The Bank of Korea / The Church of Martyrs / The French Embassy / The First Methodist Church / The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Gwahcheon) / The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul) / The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History/ The old Russian Legation / War Memorial / West Gate / Wolmido / Wongaksa pagoda / Wongudan / World Cup Stadium / Yangju / Yangpyeong / Yeoju / Yeongyeongdang / Yeouido Island / Yongsan Electronics Market / Yonsei University
Seoul and its vicinity
Seoul is both the capital and heart of the Republic of Korea. Originally the seat of government in the Baekje Kingdom over 1,500 years ago, the city only came into prominence in the 14th century when it became the capital of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). Once was a city of kings, Seoul has become the hub of the entire nation. Seoul is truly a city of contrasts. Seoul's special lure and charm are its palaces with its traditionally classic architecture, representing a colorful and tumultuous history of 500 years. Whether it awakes from the silence of winter's snow-laden roofs or during a busy autumn sunny afternoon, hidden paths appear among painfully silent garden walls or a bustling courtyard before the great throne room. Seoul offers a mixture of the old and the new providing ample opportunities for shopping, sightseeing or just pure relaxing. Once devastated by the Korean War (1950-1953), Seoul is a sprawling metropolis of 10 million inhabitants. The pace of Seoul is fast. It is a metropolis that never sleeps and that can overwhelm the visitor with flashy neon sign, endless shopping opportunities, bumper to bumper traffic, and streets full of people. The din and rush of traffic past modern skyscrapers seem strangely out of place as only a block away a lazy stream meanders under a stone bridge many centuries old. Without doubt Seoul is among the few cities in the world where the past and the future coexist in perfect harmony.
One hundred years before Columbus discovered America, Yi Taejo built this magnificent palace and then it has been the setting for numerous court intrigues, beginning with those of King Yi-Taejo and ending with the murder of Queen Myeongseong by the Japanese assassin. Serving the Yi royal family for two hundred years, the Gyeongbokgung Palace was burned during the Japanese invasion during the reign of King Sonjo, the 25th king of Joseon Dynasty, and rebuilt in 1867 by regent Daewongun for his second son Gojong. After Japan annexed Korea in 1910, all but 10 of two hundred buildings that once formed Gyeongbokgung Palace survived the brutal teardown. Today, more buildings are added, making a grandeur look of the past. There is Gwanghwamun, the main entrance to the palace and a watch tower in the middle of a busy intersection at the southeastern corner of the palace. Geunjeongmun gate, Geunjeongjeon, the Hall of Government by Restraint, faced south looking over the main axis of the city and was the hub of the dynastic power. Corridors of the throne hall and banquet hall were built in the pond supported by 48 granite pillars. Also there are the residences of king and queen, audience hall for foreigners. Today, a colorful ceremony of royal guard change takes place at 10:00, 13:00 and 15:00 daily except Tuesday.
Geunjeongjeon is the Throne Hall, where the king granted audiences to his officials, presided over large official functions and met foreign envoys. Geunjeongjeon is the largest and most formal hall in Gyeongbokgung. The two-tier edifice stands on a high platform reached by stone steps. The throne hall called hall of Government by Restraint. The building, which is faced south down the main axis of the city, was the hub of the capital. It was here that eight of early kings were enshrined. Geunjeong gate had three doors opening onto the raised walkway leading to the great hall. As court officials entered, civilian dignitaries used the right walk way and military officials used the left side. The central portion is raised slightly higher and was used only by the monarch, who could not walk on the same level with his subjects. Stone markers on either side of the walkway denoted the positions of the officials, with the highest rank being closer to the hall. The entire courtyard is paved with flagstones. Around the courtyard twelve rusted iron rings are embedded firmly in the stone. Other rings are attached to the eaves of the audience hall. These were used for riggings which supported the canopy over a wide area of the courtyard. In the center of the audience hall toward the rear is the king's throne. Behind the royal throne is a large painting depicting five peaks with pine trees and rivers flowing seaward. Two round circles at the top of either side of the painting represent the sun and moon, symbolic of east and west. The dragon design in bold relief in the center of the ceiling indicates the presence of the king. Whenever the king sat on the throne for official functions, incense sticks were burned in the censers located on the left and right of the hall. Wide-mouth basins, filled with water, are located at the top of the front steps to the east and the west of the hall, a symbolic gesture to ward off the fire spirit descending from heaven with a malicious intention of starting a fire.
It is a pavilion located to the west of the living quarters, on a pond with two small man-made islets. Used for many purposes ranging from receptions for foreign envoys to national examination, this hall was also the scene of the questionable court parties of the prodigal Yeeonsangun. The building is supported by 48 pillars, the inner ones are round and the other pillars square. This represents the oriental concept of square shapes symbolizing earth and the round ones representing sky and space. Sculpted animals sit atop the front railing stones on three stone bridges leading to the pavilion; this is to ward off evil spirits.
Displayed in front of Sajeongjeon hall is a sundial that was used during the Joseon period. The name "Angbuilgu" means "upward-looking kettle that catches the shadow of the sun". The gnomon, the triangular blade that casts its shadow on to the sundial, is aligned to face the North Star. There are 13 horizontal and 7 vertical lines that indicate 24 periods of seasonal change from the winter solstice to the summer solstice and tell time. It is marked with pictures of animals, rather than letters, for the sake of the common people who could not read. The first Angbuilgu was made in 1434, which measures 35.2cm in diameter and 14cm high.
Water-Powered Chiming Clock
Accurate timekeeping was one of the important duties of the monarchy. Whosoever oversees the regulation of clocks also controls routines of society, and essentially regulates the lives of the people. Hence, the clock was both a symbol and an instrument of power and control. Primitive water clock work by regulating the flow of liquid whereas sundials tell the time by the precise shadows cast across them by the sun. Both such types had been in use in Korea since at least the Three Kingdoms Period (BC 1st century ? AD 7th century), Jagyeokru, a self-striking water clock, was the earliest Korean water clock with an automatic chime system, produced by the order of King Sejong (r. 1418-1450). The clock is on display in the national palace museum of Korea in Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Located behind the queen's residence is a terraced garden with four hexagonal chimneys. The brick chimneys decorated with longevity symbols on the garden’s top terrace are to release the smoke from the palace's underfloor heating system. The chimneys are made of light-orange bricks and topped with raftered tiled roofs and four smaller chimneys. The various decorations on the chimney are imbued with symbolic meanings. The phoenix symbolizes the queen, the bat a fortune, the plum and chrysanthemum a man of virtue, and the ten symbols such as the crane, deer, herb of eternal youth, pine trees, bamboo and stone the longevity. On the bottom terrace are two stone tubs named Hamwolji and Nakhadam, which means "a pond containing the moon" and "a pond that reflects the sunset." The terraced garden symbolizes a mountain; the stone tub and pot symbolizes a lake; and the motif decorations on the chimneys symbolize the world of plants and animals. Thus, the garden of Amisan was a natural world of immortals.
It is a beautiful cluster of buildings and was a residence for the queen dowager, the most respected woman of the royal family, it contains many rooms with heated floors. The exhaust from the heating system was expelled through several chimneys that come together as one large chimney. A part of the brick wall protrudes, and the space between this section and the inner wall served as a passage for fumes. A large surface at the middle of the chimney wall was engraved with various decorative designs, most of which are the ten longevity symbols such as the pine tree, turtle, deer, and the herb of eternal youth. Above and below this were smaller spaces, on which various animals were depicted. The crane symbolizes longevity, the bat symbolizes wealth; and a deity and mythical creature symbolize protection against evil spirits. An exquisite work, this chimney mural was created to wish for the health and happiness of the elderly head of the residence; the queen dowager. On the side wall are representations of plants, and bird depicted in the brickwork.
It is a charming park with its pavilion built in the middle of the pond. The original bridge spanned the pond from the pavilion to Geoncheonggung to the north. The photographers and painters often attempt to capture unique and charm beauty around the year.
In 1873, King Gojong (rule 1863-1907) built Geoncheonggung Palace in the northern part of Gyeongbokgung to assert his political independence from his father, the Prince Regent Heungseon. This northern palace included quarters for the king and several bedrooms. A tragic chapter in Korea's history was recorded here in 1895 when empress Myeongseong was assassinated by the Japanese. The garden here had been developed as a rear garden of the concubines' quarters. Originally, Chwirojeong Pavilion stood on the islet at the center of the pond, and was replaced by a hexagonal pavilion named Hyangwonjeong when Geoncheonggung was built.
Built in 1867 by King Kojong as an auxiliary structure to the royal residence, it was used as a personal library. This library is in the traditional Chinese architectures, whereas the building to the left is Korean ones usually from right to left. Atop each end of the roof ridge is a bronze dragon signifying that royalty used this building. Colorful flowers, including water lily and plum blossoms decorates the eaves of both buildings. The stone Haetae used a guard-rail are to protect the building from the fire. To the left of the library is an octagonal pavilion called Palgak, used for the king's collection of rare books.
Literally, light of enlightenment blanket the World, it is the main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. The gate with its three arches and double-roofed pavilion was the most magnificent gate in the city and during the Joseon dynasty it completely dominated the avenue leading to it. When the gate was originally built it soon collapsed. The geomancers were consulted and it was decided that the gate fell due to the influence of the cranes. Therefore tow towers were constructed on the southeast and southwest corner wall so as to anchor the wings of the crane. Dongsipjagak, the southeast tower can still be seen as it now stands separated from the wall and conspicuous in the whirl of the city. Also besides the gate remains the twin Haetae. It is claimed that this remarkable animal can tell right from wrong and is able to destroy evil so has become a symbol of justice. The Haetae also have the ability to eat fire and this was their main function as they sat staring down the main avenue south from the palace.
Located in the middle of a busy intersection at the corner of Gyeongbokgung Palace is the last remaining watchtower. Now separated from the palace wall, it is a familiar sight. During the time of palace's construction only two watchtowers were built; the western tower was destroyed in 1908.
Deoksugung Palace (Palace of virtuous longevity)
Located in the heart of Seoul and only several blocks from the Gyeongbokgung Palace, it was originally constructed as a private residence of the royal family. With the destruction of Gyeongbokgung Palace by Hideyoshi's invasion in the late 16th century, it was used as a palace for King Sunjo. After the construction of the Changdeokgung Palace in 1610, it had been the detached palace and was not used by kings for 270 years with exception of several years by King Injo. In 1897 when King Gojong ended his one year stay in the nearby Russian legation, he refused to return to Gyeongbokgung Palace, and settled here. The name was changed to Gyeongungung. In 1907 the palace was called Deoksugung when he abdicated from his throne and his son Sunjong became the king. Attractions are Daehanmun, the main gate of the palace which was moved back from its original location in 1971. Junghwamun gate, in accordance with palace architecture, there is a stone bridge to cross after entering the palace grounds. There are three series of steps in front of the three doorways to this gate; the king used only the middle entrance. The royal dragon insignia is in the center flanked by four Haetae (fire eating monsters) on the step railings. The audience hall, originally a double-roofed building, was reconstructed with only one floor after fire of 1904. The throne chair is seen in the center. The dragon theme, symbol of royalty, is prevalent throughout the design of the throne chair. The huge incense burners located on the corners of the platform were lit during a royal audience. Seokjojeon is the art gallery designed by an English architect in 1901 and completed in 1909. Chunmyeongjeon, the King Gojong's residence, Jukjodang, the King Injo's residence, Seogeodang, the King Sunjo's residence, inner palace residences, a bell cast in 1306 to honor Queen of the first king of Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) and a statue of King Sejong who invented the Korean Alphabet Hangul in 1443. October 9 is the Hangul's day. Deokhongjeon and Hamnyeongjeon are inner palace residences in the peony gardens. The change of royal guard ceremony takes place at 10:30, 14:00 and 15:00 daily except Monday.
Royal Guard Changing Ceremony
It is an eye-catching ceremony that takes place at the both main gates of the Deoksugung Palace at 11:00, 14:00 and 15:30 except Mondays and the Gyeongbokgung Palace every hour on the hour from 10:00 until 15:00 except Tuesdays. It creates an impressive spectacle, and offers a rare opportunity to appreciate a slice of colorful culture of the Joseon dynasty. The ceremony is accompanied by a court band. On arrival of the new guard at the palace gate, each officer from the old guard and the new guard verifies the password of the day. After beating the huge drum six times, the old guard turns over the key box to the new guard. After another three beating of the drum, each piece of the plaque on which king's order were written is checked to confirm the shift command. With the third drum beating 2 times, the shift changes and both guards line up facing each other to conduct honors. Then, the guard that has pulled off the duty takes on the new duty of patrolling the palace. During the Joseon dynasty period, a government officer called Sumunjang and the royal guards were in charge of protecting the gates of the capital city and the royal palace, inspecting all visitors and maintaining a close surveillance of the palace.
Changdeokgung Palace (Prospering Virtue Palace)
Located about 1.5km east of the Gyeongbokgung Palace, it is a detached palace built in 1405. In 1592 the Changdeokgung Palace complex was completely burnt down except the main gate Donhwamun, which naturally became the oldest surviving structure of the palace by the Japanese invasion under Hideyoshi's leadership. The palace was rebuilt in 1610 with more color and with a slightly different style of architecture. From this date, 13 kings used it as their official residence, except for a limited period of time when the Gyeongbokgung Palace was restored and used by King Gojong. Renovated in 1907, Changdeokgung Palace was used by Sunjong until his death in 1926. The palace is divided into four major areas; Central palace buildings, Secret garden, Nakseonje and Seonwonjeon. Among the other attractions are private royal residences of Huijeongdang, Taejojeon, the royal infirmary, Nakseonje, the residence of the widow of King Yeongchin (1897-1970) who was the last crown price, and Biwon or secret garden. The palace and the Secret Garden are listed as UNESCO's World Heritage in 1997. Closed on Monday.
Injeongjeon is a large double-roofed audience hall, the highest within the palace compound. It is surrounded by covered corridors which lead into adjoining reception rooms. In front of the hall, 12 tablets are positioned on each side of the raised walkway, denoting the various ranks of government officials. The steps leading to the double-tiered platform are flanked with crouching stone Haetae which continues to protect this building from fire. On the roof ridges solemnly sit eight rows of clay figurines called Japsang, which guard eternally against dangers to this magnificent structure. The first image represents a sitting man, Samjangbeopsa, a priest of early China who was later deified. A monkey, pig, snake and other creatures are further back. The throne chair is in the middle of the hall. Behind the throne seat is a large Sun Moon screen with five mountains which depicts the adopted Confucian symbolism. Five happiness or five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Originally the structure was painted predominantly in red and green, the colors used by kings, but in the year that King Kojong declared Korea's independence from China the color scheme was changed to yellow, the imperial color the Emperor of Heaven. The hall itself has a high elegantly painted and gilded ceiling supported by numerous great red pillars. The entire courtyard is covered with flagstones.
East of the main throne hall is the small audience chamber, the hall of the Dissemination of Government once used for receiving civil and military officials, and later foreign dignitaries. Reconstructed in 1653, it is the only building now roofed with blue glazed tiles.
It is a private garden in Changdeokgung Palace, filled with natural hillocks, woodland paths, lotus ponds, and pleasure pavilions. It was first landscaped in 1623 and served for centuries as a royal retreat. It includes 44 buildings in different size as well as several ponds, springs, and streams. The garden was laid out in 1405 and enlarged in 1623. Throughout the year seasonal changes are mirrored in the placid ponds, while the fanciful pavilions continue to fascinate the young and the old. Buyongjeong is a graceful pavilion set by the large lotus pond, Buyongji, which is said to be fed by four springs but the springs are nowhere to be found today. This pond has a small islet, and on the west of the pond is a small tablet constructed by Sukjong (the 19th king of the Joseon Dynasty) tells of the discovery of these four springs. Opposite the lotus pond is the Osumun gate and the Juhapru pavilion. The architectural design of this gate is impressive since the heavy roof is supported only by two small pillars. Juhapru is a double storey building built by Yeongjo (the 21st king of the Joseon Dynasty). The lower floor was used as a royal library while the top floor, overlooking the spacious gardens and lotus pond spattered with colorful tints of blossoms, provided a place for entertainment and feasts. Yeonghwadang is the Lotus flower-reflecting pavilion, which is located east of the first lotus pond upon entering the Secret Garden. It was built in 1692 and was used for public examinations for positions as government officials. On the southwestern corner of the building displays a sundial. Yeongyeongdang is the maximum size under the Joseon dynasty laws, which forbade anyone other than royalty to have a house of more than 100 Kan. Built in 1828, it is the only house in the palace in the style of a private residence, where Sunjo often frequented to experience the private life. The visit is limited up to 100 people at one time of admission out of 16 departures daily and based on first come first serve. The garden closed on Monday.
The Yeongyeongdang was built in the style of a home of the Confucian literati in 1828 by King Sunjo (1800-1834), and is the only private style residence within Changdeokgung Palace. It served as an office for his son, the Crown Prince Hyomyeong, who was entrusted with running state affairs in Sunjo's stead at the age of 18. The complex was aimed at giving the young prince a taste of a rural gentry life. This house was built on the largest possible scale for the private residence of the time, on a larger scale than that of a prince's house. The king sometimes visited here to experience private life. At those times every aspect of his lifestyle followed that a man of noble birth, right down to the clothing he wore. This house is a good example of a nobleman's of and is thus a precious historical resource. Upon entering Yeongyeongdang, the visitor encounters a wide yard and the servants' quarters. After entering the Jangnakmun, a high gate in the wall, on either side are two inner gates. The men's quarters lie through the gate Jangyangmun to the right, while the women's quarters lie through the Suinmun gate to the left. There is a low wall between the quarters for men and women, and thus they appear to be two separate buildings. But, they are actually connected as one. To the east of men's quarters is an inner gate that passes through the servants' quarters and behind the women's quarters is the separate kitchen. The stonework, channels, and ponds outside Jangnakmun, and the terraced flower beds of Nongsujeong all exhibit the style of a nobleman's garden of the days.
Changgyeonggung Palace (Bright Rejoicing Palace)
Neighboring the Changdeokgung Palace is the Changgyeonggung Palace. Historians say that a Goryeo palace was constructed in the southern area of the Changgyeongwon garden, providing this site with the oldest history of Seoul's palaces. Yejong, the 16th ruler of Goryeo Dynasty became an enthusiastic botanist, gathering rare plants from all over Korea and sending them to China in exchange for many varieties not found here. It might be said that Goryeo King Yejong's dream of a botanical garden was fulfilled in the Changgyongwon garden, where a palace had been built in 1104 by his father King Sukjong. This earlier palace was first occupied by Taejo (1st king of Joseon) while the Gyeongbokgung Palace was still being constructed and also served as Taejong's retirement palace in 1419. But after this period the palace fell into disrepair. The palace was reconstructed in 1484 during the reign of Sungjong (9th king). During the Japanese invasion in the 16th century, most of the buildings were burned down. New buildings were added in 1833, but the palace lost its status as palace in 1907 and became a garden. It is now a favorite retreat for citizens. Once there was a zoo here until it was moved to Gwacheon Grand Park in the 1970s. Among the attractions is the gate at the main entrance, corridors and audience hall, Sungmun-dang, Hwangyongjeon, a residence for royal widows of the Joseon dynasty. Yeongchunhon, and Jipbokhon, these two living quarters were rebuilt in 1833. Prince Sado was born in Jipbokhon when Yeongjo was the ruler. At the age of 27 the young prince was falsely accused of insurgence against King Yeongjo and condemned to death by being placed in a rice box. Prince Sado's second son, who later became Jeongjo, was only 10 at the time of his father's death. He continued to live in Yeongchunhon even after he became the king. In addition, there are smaller pavilions, gates and library. Today the lake within the palace is crowded with tourists and across the main entrance stands the Seoul National University hospital on a low hill. Closed on Tuesday.
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Opened in November 2013 and focuses on different aspects of post-nineteenth-century art. A red-brick building with its contemporary-style structure made of ivory terracotta and glass curtain walls is the MMCA's main exhibition hall.
Constructed in 1913 as the Capital Army Hospital under the Japanese rule and had housed the office of the Defense Security Command since the 1970s, it has turned into a museum, spanning 27,264 square meters over six floors, three of them underground. The museum displays quality artworks of different subjects from famous local and international artists, showcasing Korean art to the rest of the world, and to advance Korean art via various collaborations and exchanges with international institutions. The museum combines a traditional Korean-style house of Jongchinbu, the office for royal family affairs during the Joseon dynasty and six courtyards. Other facility includes a Multi-project Hall, a Theater and more.
It is open every day from 10am to 6pm except Monday, and on Wednesday and Saturday opening hours are extended to 9pm.
The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History
The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History is a historical and cultural space for the vision and hope of Korea. Achieving this goal, the Museum provides the history of Korea from the opening ports to the contemporary era of overcoming the difficulties to achieve the today’s development, promoting the national pride and vision for the people and future generation. Located in the symbolic center of the Korean history, the Museum is the hub of the many cultural facilities in the area. It is one of the best places for the networking through cultural and historical communications. On entering the museum, there is a Rediscovering Hall featuring important historical moments in politics, economy, society, culture of Korea with cutting-edge high-tech display technology. And at the Discovery Center, children and families as well can experience Korea’s modern and contemporary history.
An excellent 4 exhibition halls are provided upstairs.
In exhibition hall 1, the display begins with the year 1876 when Joseon dynasty officially ended the seclusion policy, and features significant historical events until the liberation of Korea in 1945.
Hall 2 illustrates the birth of the Republic of Korea, the devastating realities of the Korean War, and the efforts for post-war recovery and building the foundation of the national development up to 1960.
Hall 3 shows how Korean people made their efforts to achieve the economic growth and development as well as to develop the political democracy, overcoming the hardship and difficulties.
Hall 4 outlines Korea’s growing global presence in sports, culture, and economy. At the same time, it provides the Korea’s efforts to share its experience in the international community.
Jongmyo are built to honor the ancestral spirits of Joseon kings and queens. Jongmyo often referred to Jeongjeon (Main Hall) from 1395, but nowadays Jongmyo means Jeongjeon and Yeongnyeongjeon (Hall of Eternal Peace) added in 1421 to hold additional royal spirit tablets.
Jeongjeon enshrines 49 spirit tablets and Yeongnyeongjeon with its 16 spirit chambers houses 34 spirit tablets. All but two kings, Yeonsangun and Gwanghaegun and their queens as they were ousted from the throne. But, enshrined in the 15th spirit chamber of Jeongjeon is Prince Munjo, having never ruled as he died at the age of 21. Jeongjeon is flanked on its left by Gongsindang holding the tablets of 83 meritorious subjects of the dynasty and on its right by Shilsadang shrine for gods of Heaven and Earth. The grounds were planted with a solemn dignity. No excess ornamentation was permitted, nor were the buildings meant to overawe. The south entrance gate was reserved for spirits to enter and exit, the east gate was for the king, and the west gate was for the performers of the royal ritual. Being the premier ancestral shrine in Korea, it is dedicated to the spirits of Korea's royal ancestors. On the compound are also other buildings such as Jeonsacheong, Jesil and Hyanggyocheong to help facilitate the magnificent and solemn rite of Jongmyo Jerye. The shrine is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. English guided tour admission at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00. It is closed on Tuesdays.
Built upon the site of the royal garden of Joseon Dynasty, the Blue House or Cheongwadae is the executive office and official residence of the South Korean head of state, the President of the Republic of Korea. The Korean name literally translates to "pavilion of blue tiles." The Main Building and its two annexes are covered with a total of 150,000 traditional Korean blue roof tiles. The interior of the building features modern amenities and facilities, striking a balance between efficiency, modernity and tradition. The hipped and gabled roof of the building is regarded as one of the most refined and attractive styles of Korean traditional architecture. It features lines converging at the crest of the roof in a triangle. The roof rises on a slant from the tip of eaves to join together at the crest of the roof, forming a hip. The Blue House is in fact a complex of buildings, built largely in the traditional Korean architectural style with some modern elements. The Blue House now consists of the Main Office Hall, the Presidential Residence, the State Reception House, the Chunchugwan Press Hall, and the Secretariat Buildings. The entire complex covers approximately 250,000 square meters. The President's private office is located on the second floor while the First Lady's office is on the first floor. There are several function rooms and conference halls, including Jiphyeonsil where the president meets with his senior staff or at times holds summit meetings with other Heads of State. Other rooms include Inwangsil, a reception/dining hall and Baegaksil, a private dining hall for smaller meetings. Chungmoosil is used for press briefings following summit meetings or official dinners to honor foreign dignitaries. This is also where accredited ambassadors and heads of missions present their credentials to the president.
Opened on the 1st of August, 2009, it is a new landmark of Seoul. The plaza is 34-meter-wide and 557-meter-long. The statue of Admiral Yi Sunsin stands tall surrounded by 300 fountains. The water jets move upward of 200 meters. The water fountain, called the "12.23 Fountain," consists of an 18-meter long jet and some 300 smaller jets. The figure "12.23" represents the admiral's feat during a 16th century war with Japan. The number "12" stands for the number of ships he used to defeat 133 Japanese warships, while "23" is a record of his string of undefeated battles. There are two one-meter-wide and 365-meter-long streamlets flowing next to the admiral's statue. The eastern historical waterway is engraved with major historical events from 1392, the establishment of Joseon, until now. The western one illustrates the future of Korea and Seoul. On its floor lie 617 stones recording with major events from the beginning of Joseon in 1392 through 2008. Unveiled on October 9, 2009, King Sejong who propagated the Korean alphabet in the 15th century is honored with prominent statue in this plaza. On August 16, 2014, Pope Francis beatified 124 Korean martyrs here on this plaza.
Cheonggyecheon stream had served as a center for gatherings and recreation since the foundation of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). When the founder king laid out the city, the valley was drained by a small river called Cheonggyecheon flowing eastward to the Hangang River. Several streams converged in the vicinity of the Gwanghwamun intersection to form the Cheonggyecheon. After the Korean War (1950-1953), Cheonggyecheon became an elongated squatters' village representing urban poverty. Thousands of poor people built shacks along its banks. This posed serious threats to public health, and the occasional fires along Cheonggyecheon quickly became a full-fledged flare. In the 1960s, however, the city managed to evict the squatters and began covering the stream to turn it into a broad avenue in 1967.
Piles of dirt were put into the river bed and slabs of reinforced concrete were used to cover the entire width of the river. The 5.8km-long Cheonggeycheon is a lively commercial district filled with huge arcades, commercial facilities and street vendors. Witnessed all the joys and sorrows of their lives, the stream was reborn in October in 2005 after 2 years and 3 months of restoration project.
Today, Cheonggyechon flows again among downtown skyscrapers. At the head of the stream stands a sculpture created by world-renowned artist Coosje Van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg. The idea for the exterior's spiral was inspired from a shell rising upward like a pagoda. The vertical shape creates a dynamic atmosphere, representing the restored vitality of the streams and the cultural aspects of Seoul's urban development. Looking inside, two colorful ribbons, inspired from Korean traditional dress for women, stream loosely down, one a luminous blue, the other peony red, representing a unity of the opposites in nature and human spirits.
The creek provides a great venue for a walking tour with a variety of cultural events and performances by amateur street artists, and shopping malls. Visitors stroll around the stream and lovebirds walk slowly arm-in-arm at night when the banks are lit up. No doubt the stream is among the popular attractions for all ages. Multi-lingual guided double-decker tour bus departs from Gwanghwamun building 5 times daily except Monday at 09:30, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 and 19:00. Overall the two-hour tour gives the visitors an excellent opportunity to explore 14.6km loop along the Cheonggyecheon bank.
Banchado (Royal procession paintings)
The "Banchado" is a reproduction of a painting of Joseon's King Jeongjo visit to Suwon Hwaseong. It is made up of 5,120 ceramic tiles, and is the largest of its kind in the world. The striking ceramic wall painting is famous for its size, which is 2.4 meters width and 192 meters long, and it depicts 1,779 characters and 779 horses. In 1795, King Jeongjo of Joseon dynasty, accompanied by his mother, Queen Hyegyeonggung, visited the tomb of his father Sado at Hwaseong (Today's Suwon) to commemorate his father's 60th birthday. Upon returning into Seoul, the king ordered the compilation of a volume of sketches commemorating king Jeongjo's royal progress to Suwon. This book includes paintings showing the royal procession departing from Changdeokgung Palace and crossing Gwangtonggyo bridge to Hwaseong. The most talented painter including Kim Hongdo, were commissioned to produce this piece. It fully expresses the dignity and authority of the royal court and the free-spirited and joyful mood of people. This piece is of great historical value as it is both genre painting and documentary painting on the royal court. It provides insight into the formalities, customs and composition of a royal procession of the times.
As the destination of the procession is Hwaseong in Gyeonggido province, the governor of Gyeonggido is at the head of the entourage. Minister Chae Jegong hold a temporarily authority of prime minister for this event and is seen riding a horse, escorted by military officers and royal guards. Following them are 84 special force, cavalry and infantry soldiers marching to the beat of drum. To the right and left of the procession are soldiers with clubs, and flag bears escorting high-ranking officials.
Seen at the front are soldiers, followed by eunuchs and officials responsible, keys, medical staff and other officials including civil minister. Behind them are 50 soldiers and special unit solders with standards, followed by minister of defense, and civil and military officials. At the end of the procession are 25 soldiers guarding the palanquins, some with bows and others with guns.
At the front are two government officials escorting the palanquins of princess Cheongyeon and princess Cheongseon, King Jeongjo's sister. Queen Kim Hyoui, wife of King Jeongjo did not participate in this procession. Behind the palanquins are number of government officials in the civil and military service, technical specialists responsible for medicine, lantern and candles as well as those who will make the official record of the procession.
This is the highlight of the procession. Here is the palanquin carrying Queen Hyegyeonggung followed by King Jeongjo on horseback. The royal palanquin is pulled by two horses one at the front and the other at the rear. An imposing array of court soldiers with whips is leading the palanquin, and gunmen and other military personnel are guarding the palanquin and the king. To the front and rear of the king's horse are unarmed officials, followed by horses carrying goods for the king.
Here is the minister followed by court ladies with veils and court attendants on horseback. Behind are spokesman for the king and trainers with bows on their backs. Extra horse for carrying the palanquin Queen Hyegyeonggung and horses carrying royal armor for the king follow under heavy guard. The sight of armor and seals wrapped with tiger leather is impressive. The court ladies are here to prepare and serve meals for Queen and the king.
Following the royal standard bearers is a mounted band of 51 different kinds of instruments. The painting vibrates with such energy that we can almost feel the beat of the percussion, wind and string players. Behind the band are veiled court ladies and soldiers carrying colorful standards. Next is the carriage carrying food to be served during breaks in the procession.
Here, we can see the palanquin for king Jeongjo, but king is riding the horse behind palanquin carrying Queen Hyegyeonggung, his mother. To the front are the horses carrying royal seal, a royal spokesman, a royal bodyguard with sword, and veiled court ladies, followed by 50 military officials headed by minister. Next are officials bearing royal ceremonial flags decorated with various animal designs including a lion, a phoenix, a red bird, and behind them are large flags of phoenix and dragon, symbol of the king.
Soldiers bearing flags of the blue dragon, white tiger, god of the sun and god of the moon are at the front, followed by band playing trumpet and drum. Immediately behind is a chief of the military training camp along with horses carrying royal seal, armor, and soldiers with swords, followed by 25 court guards. The painting is on 5,000 pieces of tiles.
Kilometer Zero Marker
Set in between Gwanghwamun building and the Koerana hotel, it is well established with mile markers of the major cities around Korea and the world. Listed are 53 Korean cities with distance measured by road, and 64 cities around the world in direct distance. The distance from Seoul to those cities are as follows. Addis Ababa (9,239km), Amsterdam (8,568km), Anchorage (6,076km), Ankara (7,749km), Antananarivo (10,387km), Athens (8,522km), Baghdad (7,242km), Bangkok (3,718km), Beijing (954km), Berlin (8,138km), Bern (8,872km), Bogota (14,832km), Brasilia (18,129km), Bucharest (7,939km). Buenos Aires (19,428km), Cairo (8,485km), Canberra (8,116km), Caracas (14,466km), Colombo (5,831km). Copenhagen (7,953km), Dacca (3,790km), Dublin (8,965km), Guatemala City (13,004km), Hanoi (2,738km), Harare (11,707km), Helsinki (7,069km), Jakarta (5,293km), Jerusalem (8,084km), Kampala (10,397km), Khartoum (9,333km), Kinshasa (12,191km), Kuala Lumpur (4,606km), Lagos (12,392km), Lima (16,293km), Lisbon (10,423km), London (8,871km), Luanda (12,679km), Madrid (10,002km), Manila (2,619km), Mexico (12,047km), Mogadishu (9,120km), Montevideo (19,606km), Moscow (6,618km), Nairobi (10,100km), New Delhi (4,688km), New York (11,058km), Oslo (7,730km), Ottawa (10,521km), Paris (8,976km), Pretoria (13,720km), Riyadh (7,550km), Rome (8,974km), Santiago (18,356km), Singapore (4,666km), Stockholm (7,466km), Taipei (1,483km), Tashkent (4,882km), Teheran (6,554km), Tokyo (1,158km), Ulan Bator (1,998km), Washington DC (11,172km), Wellington (10,024km), The antipode of Seoul is Montevideo, Uruguay.
It is the only temple within the old city walls of Seoul. Built in 1910, the temple was first called Gakhwangsa, but the name was changed to Taegosa in 1936. During this time, the temple became the main temple of Korean Buddhism. In 1954, after a great movement to rid the country of any vestiges of the Japanese occupation, the temple came to be called Jogyesa. The temple holds a wide array of Buddhist shrines and also contains a 500-year-old pine and a 400-year-old pagoda containing the relic of the Buddha. The main hall is an impressive wooden structure which is decorated on the outside with paintings of the Buddha's life and teachings, and has huge wooden latticework doors. Inside, the comparatively small Buddha statue is of unknown origin. The central shrine is flanked by paintings of hundreds of Buddha. They are symbolic of many Buddha in the universe. In front of the main hall, to the left, is the bell pavilion. There hang the drum, the bell, the gong and the wooden fish, instruments used to regulate temple life and call all willing sentient beings to listen to the liberating words of the Buddha which are chanted at every.
Bukchon Hanok Village
The village is located between two palaces on a large concentration of traditional Korean houses against an excellent landscape background. While much of the rest of Seoul rushes headlong into the high-tech glitz of the 21st century, the quaint neighborhood of Bukchon hangs on tenaciously to its traditional past. The sight of a number of Hanok built next to each other, sharing a wall and touching each other's eaves, will give you a glimpse into the friendly and open-hearted lifestyle of Koreans. Endless winding alleys and old-fashioned Korean traditional Hanok homes is one of Seoul's most picturesque areas - every turn yields a myriad of charming images. It is an enchantingly Byzantine labyrinth of rustic stone and clay walls, handsome wooden gates and private courtyards. It is a breathing reminder that even in the heart of the urban jungle. You can come on any given day and you will undoubtedly see couples taking photos with the surround Hanok-scape, newlyweds taking their wedding photos, and quite often television shows or ads being filmed here, too.
Located in the city center, the 4 storey building that faces the southern open space called Seoul Plaza was built in 1926 with bricks, granites and imitation stone. The style of the building is told to be influenced by the eclectic style of the Japanese Capitol. On the top facade is a clock showing local time. South Gate, South Gate Market, Deoksugung Palace, UK embassy, USA embassy, Bosingak belfry, Press Center, Cheonggyechon stream, Sejong Cultural Center, Myeongdong fashion center, Insa-dong antique shop street, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul History Museum and Lotte Department Store are among the spots within walking distance. Today, a new building is under construction next to the former city hall, which will replace it.
Seoul Anglican Church
Situated in the city center near UK embassy, is a 3 storey building of 909m². The first Bishop Cope, who came to Korea in 1890, instructed the preparation to build it, but many years passed until Mark Trollope, the third bishop, had it started the construction. The church was designed by Arthur Dixon, an English architect, and the construction was completed in 1926. The church with the red brick walls and the granite base expresses the Romanesque style and draws attention from many architects.
The gate name refers to Gate of Uplifting Benevolence. It was built at the time of the construction of the city wall in 1396. The present structure, however, was erected in 1869 and is distinguished by a semicircular wall which extends beyond the arched gateway, providing a narrow entranceway to the gate on the north side. This arrangement provided maximum protection for the gate and exposed would-be invaders to attach on several sides. This style of construction was known to have been used in the Goryeo period. It is said that at one time the West Gate had similar defensive arrangement. The gate is topped by a two-storey pavilion. The site, low and marshy, has been difficult to build on and considerable care had to be taken recently as subway lines pass under the gate.
DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza)
Construction started in 2009 and it was officially inaugurated on March 21, 2014, DDP is a major urban development landmark in Seoul, designed by Zaha Hadid, with a distinctively neofuturistic design characterized by the "powerful, curving forms of elongated structures". The landmark is the centerpiece of South Korea's fashion hub and popular tourist destination, Dongdaemun, featuring a walkable park on its roofs, large global exhibition spaces, futuristic retail stores and restored parts of the Seoul fortress. The variety of public spaces within DDP include Exhibition Halls, Convention Halls, Design Museum, Library, Lab and Archives, Children's Education Centre, Media Centre, Seminar Rooms and Sky Lounge; enabling DDP to present the widest diversity of exhibitions and events that feed the cultural vitality of the city.
The building features a shapely facade made up of 45,133 aluminum panels of varying sizes and curvatures. This was achieved using advanced 3-dimensional digital construction services, making DDP the first public building in Korea to utilize the technology. Described by the designers as "a field of pixilation and perforation patterns", the backlit facade is speckled with minute perforations that allow the building to transform from a solid entity by day into an animated light show by night.
Dongdaemun Market (East Gate Market)
Dongdaemun is a sprawling market area that has 26 shopping malls, more than 30,000 individual shops, and 50,000 manufacturers. It is the country's busiest shopping area, and possibly the most popular among Koreans and foreigners. Dongdaemun market is the Korea's largest wholesale and retail shopping district. Within the ten blocks of the market area, you will find a wonderful mix of the conventional and the modern; Dongdaemun Chain store, Doota, Freya town, Milgliore, Pyeonghwa fashion plaza, Tongin market, Dongdaemun shoes market, Shinpyeonghwa fashion center, Nampyonghwa plaza, Gwangwhui fashion plaza, Heunginsijang, Dongpyongwha market, Uno core, Chongpyeonghwasijang and more. One can find almost everything at a reduced price. Silks, clothes, shoes, sporting goods, plumbing and electrical supplies, electronics, office supplies, toys and just about everything else imaginable. Doosan Tower and Migliore are among the hottest shopping areas for teens. Here you can find the latest clothing, shoes, bags, colored wigs, CDs, inexpensive jewelry, and other fashion accessories. Dongdaemun shopping complex is mostly for the advanced fashionista, stylists and designers. You can get anything from fake fur, to leather to wools, cottons, stretch fabric with patterns, velvet and fabrics. There is a huge bead market where jewelry designers can go crazy buying beads, chains etc. for earrings and necklaces.
Founded in 1904, it is the nation’s first and one of the largest traditional markets which has always been a haven for ordinary Korean folk. Gwangjang Market is one of few markets retain traditional Korean atmosphere. You will find a wide range of products, including Hanboks (traditional Korean clothing), silk, and lacquer ware with mother-of-pearl inlay. The market has a huge number of stores that tailor hanbok at affordable prices. Otherwise, ready-to-wear hanbok is also available. There are roadside vendors hawking everything from food, fruits, vegetables to seafood, as well as new buildings offering designer fashion, accessories, colorful silks and so much more. Here, the workers and stores are plying their trade with traditional clothes in mesmerizing colors, accessories, fashion items, and folk art crafts. As you wonder through the market while enjoying your food and shopping, you will find the it sure to render the joy of adventure and exploration, discovery and collection. From the entrance of the market with its canopied walkways, you can smell the mouth-watering flavors of fried snacks. Along the alley, the street stalls selling simple and cheap treats line up, clouds of smoke billow out from the boiling pans and diverse types of pancakes sizzle on hot iron grills. There are roadside vendors hawking everything from food, fruits, vegetables to seafood, as well as new buildings offering designer fashion, accessories, colorful silks and so much more. The market remains an important center for Korea’s textile trade, with many vendors supplying bolts of cloth and clothing to the designers. There is nothing like eating market foods that speaks to an authentic and enjoyable traditional market experience. Throughout the day, but especially after dusk, the market is equally renowned as a repository of some of the city’s best, and cheapest, street food, with literally hundreds of indoor and outdoor stalls offering up delicacies. A hugely popular after-hour haunt for locals.
Officially known as the Sungnyemun, literally Gate of Exalted Proprieties, is one of the Eight Gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul. It is a formidable and iconic construct that served as the southern gate during the period of the Joseon Dynasty. It was built in 1396 as a main entrance to Seoul. In 1908, the walls removed to secure the space for the new street passing nearby. And in 1963, the gate itself was dismantled and reassembled at the present location. Most of Korean ancient gates are almost same in style with double storied roofs built on the high granite pedestal. Designated as a national treasure, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Seoul. It tragically fell victim to a fire by arson in 2008 and the wooden portion of the gate near the top was completely charred. Restoration work started in February 2010 and was completed in 29 April 2013. It was officially reopened on 5 May 2013.
It is one of the largest markets in the country and most prominent traditional open market. Opened in 1414 as a government market, it is a unique cornucopia of clothing, jewelry, appliances, dishes, folk arts and foods. It is widely acknowledged as one of the country's best tourist attractions. Unlike other market places, it is more vibrant and bustling at night than during the day. Clothing malls take up the biggest share of the market. Besides clothing, visitors can shop at large specialized areas for such items as fashion accessories, kitchenware, embroideries, handbags, glasses, and shoes. Traditional oriental foods and medicine, such as ginseng are also popular items here. The market opens at 02:00 and doesn't close until 18:00. For an average customer, between 07:00 and 12:00 is the best time to shop. The market consists of 11,000 shops that deal in 1,700 different items, and 50,000 people rely on this market. The giant south gate stands near the western entrance.
West Gate (Donuimun)
Doneuimun is the only main gate that has not been restored after being destroyed under Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945). The Donuimun (Gate of Abundant Righteousness) was erected in 1422 at the order of King Sejong. It was not the first west gate of the city. The gate replaced the Sojeonmun (West Arrow Gate) which had been built at the time of the construction of the city wall. Although the exact site of the gate is not known, it is believed to have been near Swiss Embassy. The west gate, thorough which one of the early trolley car lines had passed, was moved in 1914 to make way for vehicular traffic. The budget has been allotted to reestablish the 12-meter-wide, 12-meter-tall gate and stone structure. A historical park will be created nearby to explain the history of the gate as well as the city.
Northwest Gate (Changuimun)
The meaning of the gate name is showing the Correct Thing. According to the records, the geomancer proposed that Changuimun and Sukjeongmun are like the two arms of Gyeongbokgung Palace, and therefore no roads should be built there to damage the vein. This proposal was accepted, and thus, the two gates were closed and pine trees were planted there prohibiting passing-by. The design of the gate has a typical fortress gate tower, and is the only small gate that still has the old appearance among all the four small gates of Seoul. There are a couple of phoenixes are engraved on top of the rainbow shaped arch of fortress gate. According to a folk tale, they were actually in the shape of rooster and it was drawn on the gate since the outer landscape of Changuimun was in the shape of centipede and the rooster was the natural enemy of it.
North Gate (Sukjeongmun)
The gate name has a meaning of Rule Solemnly, which was built in 1396 at the time of construction of wall. It was moved a bit to the east to the current spot in 1504. The gate was built to complete the set of four gates in the four directions, not for the passage of the people, and kept closed except during periods of drought while Namdaemun (south gate) was closed. Sukjeongmun did not have a gate tower for a long time, and only remained a stone arch. The tower gate was added when restoration project took place in 1976.
The Bank of Korea
It is located on the busy intersection a block away from both South Gate and City Hall. It is a 2 storey building of an elegant Renaissance style with 7,875m². Designed by Japanese architect Tatsno Ginko, it was completed in 1912. During the Korean War in 1950, its interior entirely burnt down, but repaired in 1956. It is the central bank of Korea. Across the street is Myeongdong, a famous fashion center, and to the south is a south gate market.
It is a stripe of land which lies directly west of the Deoksugung Palace. Early in the Joseon period (1392-1910), the tomb of King Taejo's consort Sindeok, was located in this area and the neighboring area took its name from this tomb. The queen's tomb was moved to its present location in Seongbuk-ku in 1409, but the name remained. Several palaces were built in Jeong-dong in the 16th century but now disappeared. Sometime in the 17th century, the land was set aside as a residential district for the aristocracy. When Korea was opened in 1876, the policy at first was to keep foreigners living outside the city walls. In the early 1880s, however, the king loosened the rule and arranged for much of the land in Jeongdong to be sold to foreigners, who had begun arriving in growing numbers to staff legations, perform missionary work, and set up trade. By 1896, there were legations representing the United States, Russia, Germany, Great Britain, and France. Italy joined the other countries in 1901. The Japanese lived in other parts of the city. Most of the foreigners moved into the existing houses in the area, only slowly replacing them with Western-style homes over the next few years. Near the legations were built churches and mission schools. The organization of the Jeongdong First Methodist Church dates from 1887, although the present church was not built until 1895. Ehwa Girls' School and Baeje Boys' School were founded here in the 1880s. Many vestiges of this first foreign community are still standing. The American Embassy residence, British Embassy and the Anglican Cathedral are part of this foreign quarter and are located over the north wall of the Deoksugung Palace. The Russian legation tower may still be seen on the hill. In addition to the Russian legation, there was a Russian Orthodox church in the same compound. Archmandrite Chrysanthus Sketkovsky received a grant of land for the church from King Gojong in 1903. The church gathered followers, both Koreans and foreigners, until the Russian Revolution when missionary activities were forced to cease.
Located in the court of Westin Joseon hotel, it is an altar where kings of Joseon dynasty offered a ritual service to Heaven for the blessings of Heaven and various gods for national security and abundant crops for the people. The first historic Jecheon (Rite for Heaven) in the Joseon Dynasty was recorded as having occurred in 1398, the 7th year of King Taejo's reign, and when the dynasty declared a state of empire in 1897, the Jecheon ritual was observed at Wongudan. There was the same custom in Korea from ancient times, but it was argued that only Chinese emperors could so that the Wongudan was constructed and then removed repeatedly. In 1897 when king Gojong became an emperor, the argument was dissolved with the pride of the new empire. There are 3 stone drums with beautiful art work of carvings.
The First Methodist Church
Located in Jeong-dong, it is often referred to as Jongdong church. It is one of the oldest churches in Korea. The church is divided into two parts of old and new sections. The old church in gothic style is simple and compact and covers an area of 567m². The old church was built in 1896 and now designated as historical site. The new one built in 1979 is finished with red brick walls in accordance with the ole on e and highly praised at the time of its completion to win a 1979 Korean Institute of Architects Award. It is designed by Kim Jeong-Shik. Neighboring with Deoksugung Palace and is in the very center of the city.
The Old Russian Legation
It is a renaissance style building designed by Russian architect Sabatin in the late 19th century. Built in 1890, but during the Korean War, the building was totally destroyed except the tower. The present building was reconstructed in 1973. King Gojong with his entourage sought a political asylum here and stayed more than a year. City Hall, UK embassy and Deoksugung Palace are nearby.
It is an arch symbolizing Korea's fervent desire to remain independent of foreign powers, was constructed on the site of the Yeongeunmun, or ceremonial gate at which Chinese envoys were met by the Korean king or his representatives. The only relic of this earlier gate is two stone pillars standing in the front. The arch itself stands 14.28m high and is 11.48m across. On both sides there are inscriptions which give the name of the arch both in Korean and Chinese characters. On each side, a Korean flag is carved during Japanese rule. This was the only place where the Korean flag could be displaced. The exterior surfaces are made of granite, but the interior of the arch is of brick. The top has balustrade with corner pillars capped by finials.
It is a historical locale where many of Korean were imprisoned and tortured during the Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), and finally were killed. The Japanese need to build a prison to calm the patriots and independence leaders. The prison, built in 1908, accommodated 500 people in this single jail of 15 buildings, while the total capacity was 300 in 8 different prisons around the country. Japanese intentionally built the jails immediately close to the independence gate in Seadaemun district. Later, more jails were being built in Seoul to accommodate an increasing number of Korean patriots including students as well. After independence, the prison was renamed as Seoul jail, and served as a prison until 1987 when the prisons were moved to Uiwang city. Today, seven of them including three death chambers are preserved as a museum. West of downtown, 10 minutes by taxi or subway. Open : 09:30-18:00 (March - October), 09:30-17:00 (November - February) Closed on Monday. Open on Public holidays, but closed next day of the holidays.
Daehangno literally means the university street. It is one of the famous areas in Seoul, this street got its name because it was once the site of Seoul National University. There are numerous small theaters, galleries and exhibitions halls for dramas and artworks. In addition, many free performances are given by street performers as well as production companies. There are several small one-room theaters where you sit so close to the stage that you almost feel you are part of the play. It was once filled with student demonstrators, but it has now matured into a hub for young people and artists alike. In the southern part of the street is a park where many young people show off their artistic skills and talents. Here you can enjoy performances like musicals, singing, pantomime, comedy and dance as well. There are a variety of restaurants serving fast food, local and European dishes. In addition, many cozy cafes are around for a break.
It is a 1,500 seat theater built on 39,600m² in 1972. Aside from its clam environment surrounded with scenic view of Mt. Namsan. The appearance of this performing arts center was influenced from the traditional Korean architectural style. Liberty center, Tower hotel, Shilla hotel, Sofitel hotel, Jangchung gym, Jangchung Park and Dongkuk University are within a walking distance from the theater. It is located at the entrance of the hiking trail up to Mt. Namsan.
The Korea House was once the private residence of Park Paeng-nyeon, a scholar and politician who was one of six royal subjects during the Joseon Kingdom to be executed for his continued loyalty towards the ill-fated young King Danjong and for scheming his return to the throne in 1456. Nestled amidst the northern part of Namsan, five historic buildings blend beautifully together with the surrounding nature. Intricate in detail and richly abundant in traditional offerings, they make up what is collectively known as The Korea House. In a traditional Korean architecture, wooden frames are installed on stone plinth and roofs are covered with earthen tiles. The gentle curves of the eaves and the harmony with its surrounding nature characterize traditional Korean architecture. The main quarters of the Korea House consists of the four buildings forming a square and facing a common court. The buildings are built in the style of royal palace buildings. Three buildings in the rear garden are reproductions of detached halls and pavilions on scenic spots for reading, meditation or simple enjoyment. The Ondol rooms and wooden floors of the Korea House buildings are graced by traditional Korean wooden furniture pieces, landscape paintings and handicraft works. Restored in 1980 as a means of preserving Korean culture, it continues to remain a very popular introduction to performing arts for foreign visitors. A regular series of folk art performances and traditional wedding ceremonies are still staged.
Myeongdong is the most popular shopping area in Seoul. Department stores and shopping centers line the streets. The narrow criss-cross alleys of Myeongdong are filled with large and small stores that beckon shoppers to browse and buy cosmetics, clothes, shoes, accessories, handbags, tailor-made suits and shirts, latest design dresses, handcrafted modern jewelry, stockings, and other fashion items. Restaurants, banks, cafes, theaters, and other convenience facilities add to Myeongdong's appeal. Also located here is Myeongdong Cathedral, the first Catholic Church in Korea. In the neighboring blocks are high-end department stores filled with carefully laid-out merchandises and beneath these stores are the huge underground arcades that offer a fascinating subterranean shopping experience.
It is located in the famous shopping district Myongdong. Designed by French Father Goste and completed by Poisnel in 1898, it is the Korea's first Gothic building and an important milestone in the country's architectural history. The construction was much delayed because of the war between China and Japan, and finally completed in 1898 two years after the father deceased. The building sits on the space of 1,376m² out of total 14,421m². it is a gothic style with 69 meters long, 28 meters wide and 23 meters high. And the bell tower is 45 meters high. Myeongdong cathedral serves as the administrative seat of the Catholic church in Korea. With its history and status, it represents Korean catholic churches and is one of the well-known religious buildings in Korea. It is now designated as historical site.
Namsangol Hanok Village
Located in the heart of Seoul, the village is made up of five aristocratic residences which sit at the foot of picturesque Mount Namsan, having been moved and then restored to their original state down to the smallest detail. There are special events throughout the year and on traditional holidays, a range of folk games and activities from the Joseon period (1392-1910), such as shuttlecock, are played by both young and old. The houses and surrounding area which includes a traditional garden reflect the Confucian style of that era which emphasized austerity. The village is made up of many empty spaces and open courtyards, which rather than being a waste of space, is a reflection of an ancient Korean idea of understanding the beauty of emptiness, or perhaps that less is more. There is a residence once owned by Park Yeong Hyo (1861-1939), who was an upstanding nobleman and revolutionary known for being married to a princess, the daughter of King Cheoljiong of Joseon, and for a failed attempt to overthrow the government. As well as being intact, his house is representative of upper-class homes of that era which were characterized by elegant, geometrically square facades, and wooden floors built upon layers of holed bricks. Namsangol Hanok Village over the weekend offers a rare chance to experience an elaborate wedding ceremony. In the Time Capsule Square, located in the innermost area of the village, is a capsule containing 600 items that best represent the lifestyle of the population of Seoul in the 20th century and is buried underground for opening in 2394. Visiting the Namsangol Hanok Village is a chance to play games that will be somewhat familiar, such as seesaw and jump rope, as well as those that are new, like Yut. This is a board game that was popularly played by commoners, and traditionally on the first day of Lunar New Year. Using four sticks, each player throws them and how they land determines how many spaces one can move forward on the board. The first team to travel all the way around wins.
Namsangol Traditional Garden
An ancient name of Namsan, a symbol of Seoul and the Korean people, is Mokmyeonsan. The mountain has been called Namsan (Southern Mountain) as it is located in the south of the capital. Taking advantage of Namsan's picturesque landscape, people of traditional Korea built pavilions in each of the mountain's valleys. Namsan enabled them to enjoy a leisurely life in harmony with the nature as they wrote poems, draw paintings, and played games. In building Namsan-gol traditional garden, original terrain shape was restored and Namsan's native trees and grasses were planted. Valleys that enable natural flow of water were built whereas pavilions and ponds were restored. Five authentic traditional Korean houses that were scattered in the city were moved to the northwest of the garden. To help people understand life in traditional Korea, pieces of furniture that reflect status of people who lived in the houses were placed inside the buildings. Traditional craft hall sells works by intangible cultural assets artists and other souvenir goods. To the west of the garden water was made to flow as in the ancient days. Ancestral pavilions were built around the garden so that today's people can have a glimpse at charming and unburdened life of ancient people at Namsan. Among the interesting things displaced here is a Jigae, a device for carrying loads on the back. It is one of the greatest tools invented by the Korean people. It is usually made of pines. You need two natural wooden logs, from which a limb branches off a short length from the upper part of each log. Stand the two wooden logs upright with both inclined a top toward each other. Sticks 3-4 struts in between the two logs, and tighten them securely. Tie shoulder straps to the top and the bottom. On the part where the carrier's back is in direct contact, attached a thick straw-woven pad. When it rests on the ground, support at the strut with a wooden stick, with a split end like a pair of scissors. In the south of the traditional garden, a time capsule commemorating the 600th anniversary of the selection of Seoul as the new capital was buried 15 meters underground on November 29, 1994. The time capsule, which is shaped like the bell of Bosingak, contains 600 artifacts that represent urban landscape of Seoul, life of citizens, and the society and culture. The time capsule will be unearthed 400 years from now on November 29, 2394.
Insadong is a great place to relish Korean art and craftsmanship. Located in the back street of bustling downtown was once affectionately called Mary's Alley. A 350m-long alley is clustered with upscale art galleries and antique shops crammed with various Korean curios such as ancient earthenware, period furniture, horse-hair hats, drums, art supplies, paper crafts, ceramics, oriental paintings as well as contemporary artworks. A multitude of alleys that lead deeper into the district are small restaurants that exude a very homely feel with strong evocative of yesteryear. On weekends, the streets are usually closed to traffic and changed into a venue for frequent street festivals of with all kinds of performers and vendors selling traditional snacks, candies and gifts as well.
The park is located on the former site of the Heungboksa temple from Goryeo dynasty, which was once a headquarters of Jogye Sect of Korean Buddhism. An enormous temple was begun in 1464 when King Sejo began to experience remorse for his usurpation of the throne and the murder of his nephew, King Danjong. The temple was renamed Wongaksa, but it was destroyed in 1504 when Buddhism was being repressed in the country. The site remained in ruin until the turn of the last century when Sir John MacLeavy Brown of the Customs Service laid the area out as the first park in Korea. Being a city's oldest and most famous Western-style park, this became a favorite meeting place and was the scene of the reading of the Declaration of Independence. The park is perhaps best known in the hearts of Koreans as the site of the March 1, 1919, independence movement. The peaceful movement, which began in Pagoda Park, soon became violent. Thousands of defenseless Koreans were killed and imprisoned by the Japanese government. There are many statues and monuments in the park, dedicated to various patriots and victims of Japanese brutality and tell the story of the Korean struggles against the Japanese occupation. The site still contains a 10-storey stone tower from the temple, Weongaksa monument, the Declaration of Independence Monument and a statue of Son Byeong-hee. In recent times, the park has become a meeting place for many of Seoul's senior citizens. Young couples, hand in hand, strolls the park's few paths - chatting and giggling quietly amongst themselves as only young lovers can.
The pagoda created for the temple in 1467 and represents the last flowering of Buddhist art in Korea. The style is very similar to the late Goryeo period pagoda of Gyeongcheonsa, now in National Museum of Korea. Apparently in the Hideyoshi Invasions, some attempt was made to remove the pagoda as booty, and the top three stories were disassembled but not taken for the temple precinct. The pagoda consists of thirteen levels. The lower three levels constitute the base of the pagoda and are made of granite. The upper ten levels from the body of the pagoda and are of marble. Scenes depict assemblies of various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and other Buddhist figures.
It is in the Jongno, which is well known commercial streets. Jongno means Bell Street and is named for the great bell which hangs in the Bosingak pavilion on the southeast corner of the Jonggak intersection. The original Jongno Bell was hung by Taejo, the first king of the Joseon dynasty in 1395. King Sejong built two-storey pavilion for the bell in the early 15th century, with passage for traffic between columns of the first storey. The pavilion and the bell, like so much else of value in Seoul, were destroyed in the Hideyoshi Invasions of the 1590s. The present bell belonged originally to Hungcheonsa, then to Wongaksa, and then, after Wongaksa was destroyed, it lay by the South Gate until after the Hideyoshi Invasions. Since then it has had a checkered history. In the Korean War the pavilion was burned along with most other structures in the vicinity, leaving the bell ignominiously in the rubble for a time. In the 1950's, the bell hung in a small structure which named Bosingak, the Pavilion of Treasure Faithfulness. Today, the bell is struck 33 times on the eve of New Year.
It is the central station in Seoul covering an area of 81,000m². Located only two blocks from South Gate, it is one of the famous landmarks in Seoul along with this graceful ancient gate. Japanese constructed it in 1925. This renaissance style station had been a gateway of Seoul when express ways opened in 1960s. In front of the station are Daewoo Headquarter office and Hilton international hotel on the foothill of Namsan.
The French Embassy
It is the masterpiece of Architect Kim Chung-up, who applied to the competition for its design with 7 other French architects. The building expresses Korean spirit as in the curvilinear roof and French elegance. The construction was completed in 1962. The work presented him Seoul City Cultural Award in 1962, and French National Order of Merits with the title of Chevalier in 1965. It is on a small hill in Hap-dong, Seodaemun-ku.
East of French embassy across the street is a narrow road leading to Seoul Station. To the right side of the street stands high rise apartments and the other are occupied by business and residences. Here, in the midst of the residences stands country's first gothic cathedral. French Father Eugene J. G. Goste designed it and Chinese engineers participated the construction. The spire tower with the height of 22 meters was added in 1905 and then in 1921, the interior renovation was implemented. Again in 1976, maintenance works were done.
The 19-km Bugak Skyway was opened in September 1968, and quickly became one of Seoul's most popular driving courses. Windshield tourists will no doubt appreciate the fine views of Seoul and the surrounding mountains to be had from skyway, which links the Arirang Pass in Jeongneung with the Changuimun (Jahamun) Gate in Jongno-gu.There is a two-storey, eight-sided pavilion, sitting high atop the ridgeline of Mt. Bugaksan constructed in traditional Korean style at 342 meters above sea level. From the pavilion, one is treated to absolutely stunning views of downtown Seoul. One can clearly make out some of the capital's historic landmarks, including the royal palaces, as well as the city's more modern landmarks, such as the wide Sejongno boulevards and the steel and glass skyscrapers that dominate Seoul's skyline. It's an awe-inspiring vista of one of the world's most dynamic urban areas.
Guksadong is a shrine to a Shamanic god and the place where Kut, shamanic rites, are held. Inwang Mountain, where the shrine is located, is important to the geomancy of Seoul as the "white tiger" in the configuration of mountains protecting the capital and the auspicious site on which the shrine is located is said to be extremely powerful. The shrine was originally located on the top of Namsan Mountain, the southernmost extension of a geomantic configuration that begins with Bugak Mountain in the north but was displaced in 1925 by the Japanese Shinto shrine in a further colonization of Korea. The Guksadang is widely regarded as Korea's premier Kut-dang. Among traditionalist circles of Seoul shamans, doing a Kut at the Guksadang confers the status of a fully realized professional shaman. Today, noise complaints are a major issue for the Guksadang, where Kut must end by the late afternoon lest the monks from one of the surrounding hermitages complain, once again, to the authorities. The Buddhist establishment has assumed the management of the Seonbawi, improving the site but prohibiting the initiation Kut that used to take place on the narrow ledge in front of the spiritually potent boulder. The Seonbawi or Zen Rocks, large twisted rocks near the shrine, are considered a potent locus of prayers. They are Korea's most-worshipped rocks, just above the Guksadang. They are named for their resemblance to 2 Buddhist monks sitting in contemplation. Lay people come here to pray for conception and good fortune, and shaman initiates pray for the visions and inspired speech that will make their initiation a success. There is a Sansingak, Mountain-Spirit Shrine just behind the Seonbawi, small and independent-of-any-temple but always busy.
Seoul Yangnyeongsi is the largest traditional Korean medicine market in the country. Its location in Jegi-dong was once the site of Bojewon, a community health center during the Joseaon Dynasty that treated patients and provided free accommodation for the ill. You can sense the healing atmosphere the moment you get to the market where the bitter, subdued scent of herbs fills the air. The market covers an area of 120,000m² with more than 1,000 herbal medicine shops. The storefronts are jam-packed with goods all the way to Gyeongdong market, another well-known ginseng and traditional medicine bazaar just across the street. The strong scent of herbs comes from all directions, and fresh, quality ingredients are piled up high. There are more than 500 types of ingredients available for wholesale or retail, and the market comes to handle about 70 percent of the total domestic trade today. The herb medicine museum across from Yangnyeongsi opened 2006, and displays some 420 pieces of medical equipment and 350 different types of ingredients. Its collection includes rare varieties not easily found the general market. Visitors can get a free physical checkup at the herbal medicine experience hall, while others can try their hand at grinding ingredients in the information hall next door.
Yonsei University was born in 1957 when Yonhee University and Severance medical School were merged. The university is now composed of 15 colleges and 7 graduate schools, including 64 departments and 41 attached educational institutions. Among 50 buildings on the campus are included the buildings of the 1920's such as the Stimson Hall, the Underwood Hall and the Apenzeller Hall. The five storey main library designed by Kim Jongsoo is notable among the recently built ones.
Ehwa Women's University
Opened in 1886 with the small Korea style school building on Jeong-dong, the school moved here in 1919. The university is now composed of about 30 buildings which occupy a total space of 176,400m². Among many buildings the two storey main hall designed by Chinese architect, and five storey auditorium building, which was constructed in a long spanned period from 1955 till 1967.The total campus area is 561,000m² and total enrollment of 17,000 students.
Young people often head down to the Hongik University area, popularly known as Hongdae, for a night of fun, dancing, drinking and partying. No wonder since Hongdae is synonymous with dance clubs and live music bars, especially the exciting "Club Day'' event that takes place on the last Friday of every month. In the 1980s, Hongdae only had art galleries, studios and bookshops near the entrance of the university. But in the 1990s, dance and music clubs sprouted up, many of which were originally artists' ateliers that were transformed into clubs. The live music clubs also helped nurture the independent music scene, giving a venue for young musicians to perform. Successful Korean rock, punk and hip-hop acts like Nell and No Brain were "discovered'' while they were performing in the area's clubs. On weekends, market opens from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. University students and young artists set up makeshift stalls around the park, selling their unique arts and crafts. There's a lot of stuff to see and buy, such as handmade earrings, rings and necklaces, stylish clothes, embellished sneakers, dolls, bags, hats, household items and other accessories. This is the perfect place to find cute items to give as presents or handicrafts to decorate your home. Unlike Insa-dong and Cheongdamdong, Hongdae is one place where art is not just in the galleries but also on the streets. Even the buildings and walls around Hongdae are decorated with graffiti and bright-colored murals. After all, one person's graffiti can be another person's idea of street art. "There are around 20 art galleries and alternative spaces in Hongdae. These galleries are not like the mainstream galleries in other parts of Seoul. Unknown young artists are given a chance to show their works''. Since 1993, Hongdae has always hosted its annual street art exhibition during autumn. It will be exciting to see fresh and innovative art works by young artists, many from Hongik University, at the exhibition. Seogyodong Street No. 365 is a legendary street in Hongdae, which was once filled with art studios and workrooms. Now, the street is home to many small boutiques selling clothing, shoes and accessories, as well as old-fashioned Korean restaurants. This street is very symbolic for the artists in Hongdae. The old buildings used to be workshops of many artists, but now many of these have been converted.
Seoul's flea market has its origins in the Hwanghak-dong flea market, originated in the early 1950s when secondhand goods dealers put various items on sale. The Hwanghak-dong Flea Market, like its name is full of rare goods which people can see only in the old country houses. Whiskey bottles, stands, gas-burners, hairdryers, small speakers and old shoes. This market used to be a place for collecting antiques from all over the country. The goods dealt in this place are from antiques, used furniture, household appliances, watches, jewelry, piano, camera and various clocks to tools and the number of stores reaches almost one thousand or so. There are many old shops as much as they carry out old articles. Hwanghak-dong grew into a center for secondhand goods. There is another market in Sinseol-dong, not far from Cheonggye Stream. To celebrate the new site, the market gave itself the name Seoul Flea Market. The market has some 894 shops in its two-storey site. Seoul Flea Market is located about 100 meters away from Exit 9 of Sinseol Station on subway line No.2. The market opens every day of the year, from 10 a.m. through 9 p.m. Items dealing in the market includes small electronics, tools, daily necessity, jewelry, interiors, accessory, stone works, potteries, musical instruments, clothing, folk art crafts, and antiques.
Itaewon is a major shopping district, which is located not far from downtown, and caters to the tastes of foreign shoppers. 500m-long-street is packed with around 1,200 shops half of which dealing cloths, 150 leather goods shops, 150 shoes shops, 50 custom tailors and many other items. There are a wide range of accommodations nearby including the Grand Hyatt, the Capital, the Hamilton, the Crown and the Holiday Itaewon. In addition, restaurants serving German, Italian, Indian, Pakistani, Swiss, Thai, Chinese and Japanese dishes are concentrated here. People here speak good English and Japanese as well. Itaewon is truly a bargain hunter's paradise.
Korea Furniture Museum
The Korea Furniture Museum provides a glimpse into a Korean tradition and also culture, featuring a number of Hanok houses with some 2,000 pieces of Korean wood furniture. The facility is the most comprehensive private museum of its kind and is dedicated to provide insight understanding into traditional Korean lifestyle. Yet, the architecture built in traditional Korean style, is a striking feature that simply cannot be missed parallel to the furniture collection. Display rooms categorized by type and era of the furniture are on the basement levels, while the ground floor expo explains how the furniture was placed in its original settings within a Hanok. The tour of the house offers more than just taking a peek into the lifestyle of upper-class people of the Joseon period. One can learn about the size and proportion of Joseon furniture which are calculated in accordance with the size and proportion of windows and walls of private residences. Chagyeong is well introduced to one of the residences. Chagyeong literally means ‘appropriative landscape’ or ‘borrowed scenery’, refers to a design method which uses or appropriates distant scenery as a part of my own landscape by positioning the building and windows for the view. Reservation is required, however, the rules of visiting this museum are very tight. English speaking guided tour is available from Tuesday to Saturday at 14:00 and 16:00. Sunday, Monday and national holiday closed
Located in the south of downtown Seoul and very close to Itaewon, the war memorial features excellent exhibitions of various historical records and relics of patriotic ancestors who fought gloriously to protect the country from numerous foreign invasions in the Korean history. The grounds and the exhibits are massive and showcase a wide range of aircraft, armor and ships. You will learn more about Korea’s military history as well as the UN’s key involvement. This monumental museum was designed in part on the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. It was opened on June 10, 1994 in order to pay respect to the meritorious services of those who lose their lives to protect the nation and to hand down such patriotic spirit to the descendants. It includes an international roll of honour of Korean War dead with over two million names, a hall of memory and reflection, an international gallery and some fantastic contextual dioramas that will give the scholars a useful and comprehensive introduction to the Korean War. The main building houses seven permanent exhibition halls - Memorial Hall, War History, Korean War, Expeditionary Forces, Armed Forces, Large Equipment and Korean Defense Industries. The war memorial displays approximately 13,670 items including armaments, relics, and others collected from many countries around the world. The Memorial Hall occupies central of the hall and is the space for pay homage to the great spirits and achievements of the national war heroes who protected the nation from many trials and foreign invasions. It is a 30m-tall dome structure containing sculptures, mural paintings, and relief works under the themes of defense of the fatherland, of surviving great national trials, and of the unity, prosperity, and eternal peace of the Korean people. The War History Hall maps out the prehistoric age, the Three Kingdom ear, the Goryeo dynasty, the Joseon dynasty, the Daehan empire and the Japanese colonial periods, and displays old military records, historical relics, uniforms and descriptions of military organization. The Korean War Hall vividly displays photographs, dioramas, articles, and records telling the whole story of the modern tragedy ranging from North Korea's invasion, the counterattack, the intervention of Chinese forces, to the truce, with a portrayal of wartime life styles. It offers an indirect experience of the Korean War to the post-war generations. The Expeditionary Forces Hall displays a wide range of real records related to the activities and achievements of the Korean armed forces in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and in peace-keeping operations. The Armed Forces Hall shows viewers at a glance the development of Army, Navy, Air Forces and Marine Corps, including their weaponry, uniforms and trainings. It also has a huge outdoor technology park displaying aircraft and tanks from the Korean War to the present day and is an ideal location to provide orientation to a study of the Korean War and the role of UN forces in it. The Statue of Brothers is based on the dramatic true story of two brothers who met each other on the battlefield from opposing sides during the Korean War. It symbolizes brotherly love transcending ideology. The hemispherical shape of the pedestal symbolizes the grand unity and harmony of both Koreas while the crack in the center of the hemispherical pedestal, which is 18m in diameter and 11m in height, symbolizes the divided nation. The statue reflects the wish for peace and unification.
National Museum of Korea
National Museum of Korea showcases artifacts from the origins of Korean society, allowing you to experience Korea's unique culture that has evolved through time. The museum contains over 310,000 pieces in its collection with about 15,000 pieces on display at one time. It displays relics and artifacts by chronological order, Prehistory and Ancient History Gallery, Medieval and Early Modern History Gallery, Calligraphy and Painting Gallery, and Sculpture and Crafts Gallery. Reopened at its current location in downtown Seoul in October 2005, the National Museum of Korea is the Asia's largest museum and the sixth-largest in the world in terms of space. The museum stands on 295,000m² of land, featuring a main building and extensive gardens. The museum building is 424 meters long and has six floors above the ground, with its oblong design based on the walls of Korea's ancient fortresses. On entering the soaring glass-roofed central atrium, you are greeted by a 13.5m-high 10-storey stone pagoda from the 14th century. This pagoda was illegally smuggled out to Japan, but in 1918 it was fortunately returned and was restored in Gyoengbokgung Palace, but difficult to be conserved because of acid rain and weathering. So it was dismantled again in 1995 until the National Museum of Korea housed it at the 'Path to History' when reopened in 2005. After the historical tour at the ground floor, you will see and experience the beauty of Korean arts on the second and third floor through a wide variety of artworks and cultural properties. The unprecedented gathering of the outstanding artifacts will provide you with an opportunity to appreciate the superiority and delicacy of Korean ancient sculptures, paintings and arts of all types. The National Museum of Korea is deeply committed to offer diverse programs aiming to enable visitors to make full use of own historical knowledge learned from schools, which normally follows chronological order. In addition, the museum employs cutting-edge technology. A digital navigation system guides visitors through the museum, and mobile gadgets like MP3 players and PDPs help visitors explore preferred courses and get information about the artifacts. The Museum is closed on January 1 and Mondays.
Carved in 1348, this 13 meter-high, ten-storey pagoda is unusually made of marble, distinguishing itself from other pagodas of Goryeo origin. The three-tiered platform holds the first three stories of the pagoda. They are all cross-shaped with each part going out in the four directions. The next seven stories are square. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and flower designs are sculptured on them. From the fourth storey up, each storey has railings and hipped-and-gabled roofs, suggestive of a wooden building with a tiled roof. The eaves of the roofs appear to have been influenced by the wooden architecture of the period. The pagoda is one of the finest examples of Korean stone work and is of high artistic value. It is now on display in the national museum of Korea.
Leeum Samsung Museum of Art
Sitting on the gentle slope of the Namsan Mountain and flanked by a vista of the Hangang River, Leeum provides a unique environment to house the comprehensive collections of traditional and contemporary art of Korea . The Museum will be a nexus of culture, linking important nearby cultural facilities including the National Museum in Yongsan and the National Theater on the Namsan Mountain. This new cultural destination will give the area an expanded cultural presence in the city. Dedicated to being the foremost Museum in Korea to bridge the country's artistic heritage with its contemporary art practices, Leeum is an ever evolving and dynamic institution committed to establishing the finest permanent collections and temporary exhibitions in the country. Opened to the world as a repository of art and culture, it is committed to create a dialogue between Korean and foreign art. Three buildings make up the composite complex. MUSEUM 1 is devoted to the exhibition of traditional Korean artwork. MUSEUM 2 showcases modern and contemporary works by both Korean and foreign artists. Finally, the Samsung Child Education & Culture Center supplements the two Museums by contributing to the cultural education of our future leaders. This new cultural complex was designed by three internationally acclaimed architects, Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas. The three buildings exist in harmony with each other, though each piece has its own uniqueness. These architectural works are designed to accommodate the past, the present, and the future of art and culture. Reservation is required for visit. Closed on Mondays.
Gahoe Minwha Museum
It is a small museum featuring hundreds of folk paintings, shaman paintings and talismans. Minhwa were painted for decorative purposes for both royals and commoners during the Joseon period. These paintings, which were often done on cloth, paper or silk that is stretched across folding screen canvases, reflected the lives, thoughts and expressions of ordinary people and featured symbols of wealth, happiness and health, as well as the struggles of everyday life. Many of these paintings include depictions of mythological creatures, various animal figures and nature. The most common scenes include tigers, fish, birds, flowers and mountain ranges. Minhwa were frequently used for superstitious purposes in the hope of bringing virtue and protecting a family and household from evil spirits. The exhibitions in this quaint museum are both artistic and decorative minhwa, some of which are simple and plain, while others are lively and vividly colorful. And aside from the aged cloth, some of the paintings have a New Age essence to them, despite being hundreds of years old.
Seoul Art Center
The Seoul Arts Center is an architecturally impressive complex of theaters and exhibition halls that are constantly and concomitantly in activity the whole year round. The Center is a showcase for the cultural sophistication of a Korean society that is proud of its cultural tradition. Consisting of the Music Hall, the Calligraphy Hall, the Art Gallery, the Arts Library and the Opera House, the complex presents concerts and exhibitions of all genres. The Opera House, characterized by a traditional top-hat-shaped roof and a lower section which resembles a person sitting with crossed legs, is the compact embodiment of the entire Center. The first and only opera house in Asia, a seven-storey building with one floor underground and six above the ground is composed of the Opera Theater for operas, the Towol Theater for plays, the Jayu Theater for more experimental productions and backstage. The Opera Theater houses 2,300 seats. It has a main stage sprawling over 660m² of floor space, three completely partitioned stages, two supplementary stages and a three-level orchestra pit with capacity of 100 people. In the Korean garden and symbolic plaza, outdoor performances are held, enabling visitors to enjoy sophisticated culture and arts in the natural setting. Being a comprehensive cultural and art complex, and is an essential focal point of Korean culture and arts, great local and international concerts, operas, ballets, painting exhibitions and other attractions are always in function at any moment of the year and frequently places the visitor at loss on which of the not to be missed spectacles to choose.
Yongsan Electronics Market
Opened in 1987, the market has enjoyed a great reputation for electronic goods. Both locals and foreign tourist are flocking to this market, which is now the largest of its kind in Asia. Yongsan Electronics Market is a great area to shop for a gadget freak. Located by the Yongsan subway station, the market has well over 3,000 shops in 22 different buildings. They sell electronic products and house ware goods ranging from computers, stereos, T.V, refrigerators, washing machines, lighting, audio systems, cameras, cellular phones, and general electronic gadgets. Lighting (Building 2 and 3), Computers and Electronics stuffs (Building 4 to 7), Electric appliances and electronics department store (Buiding 9 - Jeonja Land), Computers and Electronics stuffs (Building 10 to 13), home appliances and computers (Building 17 and 18), Audio and Communication (Building 21 and 22). Closed on Sundays.
Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
This is the center for the Orthodox Christian community in Korea. Greek soldiers in the Korean War (1950-1953) took an interest in the languishing church, and helped to revive it. The church became a Greek Orthodox church and moved to present location in 1965. In 1976, the Greek government donated money for the construction of the bell tower in memory of Greek soldiers who died during the Korean War. The building was solemnly consecrated in 1978. The Orthodox church in Korea, although initiated by the Russian Orthodox church, has since the Korean War been associated with the Greek Orthodox church. The interior of the church is gorgeous, unquestionably one of the most magnificent church interiors in Korea. All of the woodwork, the chandeliers, the pulpit, the bishop's throne, the altar screen, are beautiful examples of woodcarving in the Orthodox tradition. Examination of the altar reveals delicately carved figures of phoenix, fish, and various Byzantine style but the lettering has been done in the Korean not the Greek alphabet. The church also has many attractive banners and other embroidery work. An unusual feature of this church is a baptismal pool sunk into the floor and covered over.
The Church of Martyrs
It is the very location where dozens Catholics including nine French priests were martyred in 1866. Located on Choldusan (Beheading Hill), a rocky cliff overlooking the north bank of the Hangang River, is an imposing modern church commemorating the martyrdoms of Korean Catholics during the persecution of 1866 to 1871. Dedicated in 1967, the church includes both a memorial church and a museum of artifacts relating to the persecution. The shape of the roof is said to be in imitation of the traditional Korean horse hair hat don by nobles. In the court stands the statue of Korea's first priest Kim Taegon (1822-1846) who martyred in 1846. The church is built up on several levels on the great rock outcrop. The upper level is the actual sanctuary which is simply furnished. Underneath the chancel, there is a circular chamber set into the very peak of the rock. Set into the wall of the crypt is a row of marble tablets with the names of six of the martyred French priests and ten Korean Catholics who died in the persecution. Pope John Paul the second visited this church in May, 1984, and 103 martyrs were canonized by the Pontiff in a public ceremony on Yeouido isle. It was the largest such ceremony ever held at the only time that a canonization had been outside Rome.
This island is not particularly historic, nonetheless it plays a significant part in the life of modern city and contains some of its most notable and important structures. The island was a sandbar in the middle of the Hangang River which came to be used by Japanese colonial authorities in the 1930s as a military airport. Later it became the site of the first post-war civilian airport. Apartment housing was first developed here as it is in the center of the city geographically and socially. The island is dominated at its western end by the massive National Assembly Hall, which was moved here in the mid-1970s, Full Gospel Church, which is possibly the largest in the world and 63 building is one of the Korea's tallest modern buildings. Among the attractions, is an enormous aquarium displaying a wide variety of fishes. Today, most of the banks, securities business and broadcasting stations are largely centered here and became the business and finance center. The middle of the isle was once served as an airport, but now is a huge park with lovely paths in the woods. Hangang River cruise boast leave the Yeouido pier and they are busy carrying passengers to the Olympic Stadium and the World Cup Stadium.
National Assembly Building
Located on the Yeouido isle about 8km south of downtown, it is a six storey building completed in 1975. The massive copper dome with its diameter is 63.4 meters covers the structure, and is surrounded with four side galleries created by 24 tall stone pillars which reach the ceiling of its top floor. The building sits on the area space of 81,444m². The main hall is equipped with simultaneous interpretation system, and its exterior walls were finished with granites and the wide open space around the building makes it prominent and more symbolic as the legislative organ of a nation.
63 City Building
Proudly standing on the eastern corner of the Yeoudo isle, the 63 Building has become one of Seoul's more popular tourist destinations and the perfect place for family outings on weekends since its opening in 1985. Besides being a tourist and architectural attraction, the building contains many different attractions and amusements for Seoulites and foreign visitors. Two of its more popular attractions include an aquarium and a 25-meter wide screen in the IMAX Theater. By far, one of the more interesting attractions located here is the 63 Aquarium, the largest indoor aquarium in Korea which houses around 20,000 marine animals in a miniature submarine world of tropical jungles, temperate forests, and arctic zones. There are a number of shows that are put on daily including the Harbor Seal Show and the Fish Feeding Display. Despite its small size, the aquarium provides rather cozy and intimate experience. Next to the aquarium, another popular attraction is the IMAX Theater. Of course no trip to 63 Building would be complete without a visit to the observation deck on the 60th floor. On clear days you can see as far as 50km away, including Incheon.
Noryangjin Fish Market
Opened in 1927, it is a large-scale wholesale seafood market, serving an average of about 15,000 customers every day. All kind of fresh fish brought in from deep-sea fishing vessels are sold here at both retail and wholesale. Bastard halibut, flounder, sweet fish, yellowtail, sea bass, sea bream, rock bream, jacopever, mackerel, fat cod, mullet, gizzard-shad, puffer, shark, eel, squid, octopus, cuttlefish, red drum, sheath fish, snakehead, abalone, clam, shells, mussels, shrimp, crab and sea cucumber are some of the fishes sold here. The market opens year round and provides 48% of fish supplies to Seoul and its vicinity. Auction is from 01:00 until early morning except Sundays. Sliced raw fish is a great treat. You point to what you want and whisk it off to a nearby restaurant where they prepare it for you with all the fixings - sesame leaves, bean paste, garlic and sliced chili peppers.
Mt. Namsan occupies a space of nearly 3,000,000m² in the heart of Seoul, rising 265m above sea level with a communication tower on its top. The park provides a great venue for hiking, jogging or just to relax. It is also a home to over 600 different kinds of plants and dozens of bird species. The park facilities include the Public Library, the National Theatre, and the Botanical Garden. There is a historical site, Bonghwadae, a beacon tower that in the past was used for signaling. The fire on the beacon signaled that the enemy troops were coming. Namsan Park can be reached from a number of entry points. There is also a cable car taking visitors atop at the base of the N Seoul Tower. At the corner of the tower base is a time capsule that will be opened in 2485.
N Seoul Tower
N Seoul Tower rising up from the pine-dotted summit of Namsan is visible from almost anywhere as you travel in the capital city. N Seoul Tower was Korea's first integrated communication tower, transmitting TV and FM radio signals for the metropolitan area since it was constructed in 1969. Nearly 50% of the people in Korea benefit from its antenna for various local and national FM and TV broadcasting stations such as KBS, MBC, and SBS. Since opened to the public in 1980 as a hybrid recreational and cultural complex, the tower has become the symbol of Seoul and has played a role as the city's most recognizable landmark and popular tourist attractions. Seen from the streets below, the tower is Seoul's own North Star, guiding you through the night. The tower for the first time on the 15th of October 1980 accepted the visitors. The tower itself is 236.7m high, but as it stands on top of Namsan, it rises to about 479m above sea level, thus allowing visitors to enjoy a great panoramic view of Seoul. The best time to appreciate the city's beauty is to come here after sunset as the views during the day may be obstructed by weather and pollution. With Seoul lit up all around you, with red, pink, green and yellow orbs of neon pulsating in the night, you are guaranteed to have truly magnificent experience from above its crowded streets. There is a revolving restaurant high up in the air serving European cuisine, providing 360 degrees of panoramic view of Seoul. A Korean restaurant offers the traditional flavors and flair of Korea with a stunning view to match.
Saenamteo Martyr site
Located immediately by the Hangang River banks, where the railroad crossed to the north side of the river, is one of the four Roman Catholic martyr sites in Seoul. This sit is of particular importance because the first catholic missionary, Father Chou Wenmu, two French bishops Imbert and Berneux, and three French priests, Fathers Chastan, Maubant and Breteniers were all martyred here as well as many Korean catholics. The memorial is erected here in 1957, and the church in 1984.
Apgujung is affluence in abundance. Having long since earned its rightful reputation as being that of a "money magnet,'' the area has never lost its momentum and remains a dwelling teeming with exuberant displays of immeasurable wealth. And as the summer days only continue to grow hotter, the relentless pursuit for the latest trend plays out throughout its streets from well within the bordering, protective walls of glamorous, riverside high rises. Flanked by boutiques of every imaginable aesthetic embellishment and with enough clothing stores to rival its neighboring counterparts, Dongdaemun and Myeongdong, just north of the river, a walk down the area's heralded "Rodeo Drive'' will find one marveling at the sheer scale of fashion sense spilling out from the long line of luxury outlets, as aficionados dizzily spring for the latest fabric. Undisputedly, Apgujung is a playground for those wishing to be seen, and a quintessential hub to come, mix and mingle with celebrities, successful entrepreneurs and the like. Nowhere else in the huge, metropolitan sprawl will a quick jaunt sweep you into a spiraling vortex of mind numbing beauty. Suffice it to say, if anyone in Apgujung hasn't at one point in his or her life scrawled the experience of modeling onto their resume, then they're well on their way to doing so. If it's the nightlife you're after, the pace is never too frenetic. But, rest assured, the atmosphere never loses its charge. Evenings on the strip are awash in a welcoming sea of glowing lights, as the warmth of neon lit venues blend in with streams of European cars cruising by almost at a crawl, craving attention. Every wine bar, cafe, and restaurant is at maximum capacity, and the faint chorus of laughter and playful conversation reverberates from bustling patios, the city's players, undeterred, in full swing. Apgujung is still well worth a peek for the few who have yet to witness never ceasing appeal.
It was the site of 1988 Summer Seoul Olympics. The complex includes a main stadium accommodating more than 100,000 people, velodrome, gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, and baseball playground. The opening and closing ceremony of both 1986 Asian games and 1988 Olympics were held here in the main stadium and drew world attention. It is located by the southern bank of the Hangang River and can be accessed by subway in 45 minutes from downtown. Or by cruise boat from Yeouido in an hour.
World Cup Stadium
The uniquely designed Seoul World Cup Stadium has instantly become one of the city attractions. Located in Sangam-dong in the west of downtown Seoul is the center of much attention after hosting 2002 World Cup Opening Game. Seen from the above, the outline of the stadium resembles a huge Korean traditional shield kite soaring up in the sky. 206m x 243m in size, it has 6 floors with one basement level. The stadium covers an area of 155,946m² with the seating capacity of 64,677 and a parking of 2,525. Here, a Korean and a Turkish team played a semifinal game in 2002, and the world watched it.
It is one of the largest indoor theme park in the world. The adventure begins from the basement floor, with an ice rink large enough to accommodate several hockey teams. Two floors of restaurants, pubs and toy stores separate the skating area from the amusement park. With all the natural light, planted flora, vendors, and realistic sets, it is easy to forget you are inside a building. As a miniature monorail circles the park, mock hot-air balloons run rails attached to the ceiling and a roller coaster appears from behind the Swiss Chalet, the illusion is complete. At parade time, rollerblading fairies zip through the crowd firing confetti guns, Jack chases Jill, toy soldiers dance in unison, and ladies-in-waiting waltz with pony-tailed lords. A band of Asian Santa marches around playing 'Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer' during the Christmas season as soap bubble snowflakes float down on the heads of schoolchildren. Magic Island is outdoors and across a causeway connected to Lotte World. This secondary park, built above a small lake, is home to 15 'thrill park' designed to appease extreme sports enthusiasts. The most famous is Gyro Drop. Riders are strapped around a huge pole that slowly rises 70 meters into the air and then careens back to earth with enough speed to generate a two-second free fall before harmlessly resting back on terra firma. Aside from Adventure World and Magic Island , there are squash courts, a bowling alley, swimming pools, a shooting range and the folklore museum.
The amusement park is divided into five different theme areas, each catering different age groups. But World Plaza is for everyone. Marquee shows are held on Fountain Stage, named for the geysers of water surrounding the performers, while night-capping laser shows and firework displays are also an exciting part of World Plaza. Korean Culture is the idea behind Samcheolli Land. Traditional snacks such as Pajeon, delicious rice-flour pancakes mixed with vegetables, and Galbi, grilled meat wrapped in lettuce, are served to hungry visitors. Tomorrow Land is dominated by brightly colored roller coaster tracks snaking and bucking into the air. Black Hole, the longest roller coaster in Korea, is a four-minute ride that leaves everyone shaking. The latest addition is Sky X; after being strapped to a harness vertically, you are raised 55 meters into the air and dropped. The rest is sheer nightmare. Obviously all of these rides are for teenagers and adults. Fantasy Land is the place for tots. There are half-pint roller coasters, mini bumper cars, and game arcades. A four-storey playground has slippery slides, trampolines with padded walls, tubes to crawl through, cargo nets, and plastic ball pools. It is a child's rat race, and the kids simply love it. Within a walking distance from the park is the National Zoo and the Contemporary Art Museum, so plan on spending a full day here.
With the total length of 514km, the Hangang River (Hankang) is the main source of water for Seoul and its vicinity, and is important to the city as both natural and recreational resource. Two branches of the river converge and flow through Seoul, bisecting Seoul into two almost equal halves - the northern part of the city is a focal point for culture and history, while the southern part is well known for its business district. The Hangang River is home to many kinds of fauna and flora, with more than 580 species of 106 flora families. About 35 kinds of migratory birds can be seen along the Hangang River including wild ducks, spotbill ducks, mandarin ducks, whooper swans, white tailed sea eagles and kestrels. The Hangang River provides a great escape with cooling winds and refreshing environment. The night views of the Seoul city lights create a dreamy effect. The ferry cruise departs from four points along the Han, the most of which is Yeouido which is less than just a five-minute walk from the Yeoinaru station on Subway line 5. As the sun goes down, the Hangang River becomes a romantic place with light aglow. Taking a river cruise offers an evening cruise presents a particularly dramatic view of the night skyline. The parks, sport facilities, playgrounds, bike trails are well established along the river for anyone to enjoy.
Hangang River Cruise
The Hangang River is a central part of the city's landscape along with the parks, apartment complexes, and skyscrapers that line the banks. While the river can be enjoyed many ways from sailing, water skiing, wind surfing, and boating, one of the more popular ways to enjoy the river and its river front areas is a Hangang River cruise. Since 1986, cruises along the Hangang River have been one of the more popular tourist attractions to enjoy the riverfront sites and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Today, two of the cruise companies have several boats that ply the waters of the Hangang River. The boats depart from four piers conveniently located along the river in Chamsil, Yeouido, Nanji, and Yanghwa which make one-way or round-trip tours from one hour to an hour and thirty minutes. As boat cruises come and go, the ones along the Hangang River with their unrestricted views of Seoul and the river front areas along the river are a great way to see and appreciate the size of the and magnificence of the city, not to mention its economic development which spawned the familiar phrase "the Miracle of the Hangang River." Over one million travelers have had the chance to experience the pleasure of touring the Hangang River. But don't expect to be dazzled by too many sights unless you consider row after row of apartment buildings. Nonetheless, there are some familiar landmarks along the way including the 63 Building, the Seoul World Cup Fountain (in operation from April 1 - Sept. 30) and off in the distance N Seoul Tower and Mt. Bukhansan. On a dinner cruise, treat yourself and your loved ones. Feast on a Korean dinner as the band on board entertains you. This will be a memorable night on board one of Seoul's most luxurious restaurant boats relaxing in modern comfort and dining like King on a variety of Korean dishes. As you cruise slowly along the Hangang River you will pass.
City tour bus
The Hop-on, Hop-off city tour bus gets you around the city, and gives you the maximum opportunity to discover Seoul at an affordable cost and in a limited time. If there is any stop you have been to already, you can always change the course. The tour bus provides recorded audio guide service in five different languages including English. The tour departs at 09:00 in every 30 minutes interval from there on, and currently two departures for the night view tour in front of Koreana Hotel. Please make sure departure times as they vary depending on season.
(1) The Palace
Bus departs Koreana Hotel and stops at the following points.
Deoksu Palace, Cheonggyecheon Square, KTO (Korea Tourism Organization), Samilgyo Bridge, Jogyesa Temple, Antique Shop Street, Changdeok Palace, Daehangno (Youth street), Changgyeong Palace, Insa-dong, Blue House (Presidential residence and office), National Folklore Museum, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Gwanghwamun.
2) City Cruiser
Bus departs Koreana Hotel and stops at the following points.
Deoksu Palace, South Gate market, Seoul Station, USO, Yongsan Station, National Museum, War Memorial, USA Army Base, Itaewon (Shopping street), Crown Hotel, Myeongdong (Fashion and shopping center), Korean Folklore Town, Sofitel Ambassador hotel, National Theater, N Tower, Grand Hyatt hotel, Tower hotel, Silla hotel, East Gate Market, Daehangno (Youth street), Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Insa-dong, Blue House (Presidential residence and office), National Folklore Museum, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Gwanghwamun.
(3) The Night view drive
Bus departs Koreana Hotel and stops at the following points.
Deoksu Palace, Holiday Inn hotel, N Tower, Cheonggyecheon Square.
This one does not offer as many stops as others do, but it is a great opportunity to see the bustling night view of Seoul. You will get to see the National Assembly Hall, illuminated bridges of Yanghwa, Seongsu, and Hannam. You will also stop at Namsan Mountain for a superb view of Seoul. Finally, the bus takes us to Cheonggyecheon Square, where you can catch a glimpse of a Seoul's nightlife.
Double-decker tour bus with multi-lingual audio guide service departs from Koreana Hotel five times every day at 09:30, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 and 19:00 except Monday. Around two hours of tour gives you an excellent opportunity to explore the 14.6km long loop along the Cheonggyecheon bank. The bus stops once at Cheonggyecheon Museum, displaying the stream's historical changes, as well as the life and culture of the city's residents in the old days during the Joseon dynasty.
They are Korean version of health spas with a few added kicks and cultural differences, equipped with sauna, hot tub, pool, workout room and massage therapy. One of the specialties of the jjimjilbang in Korea is the sauna rooms or "hot rooms.'' Typically made into the shape of an igloo or clay hut, these rooms range in temperature and theme and bare a great resemblance to the sweat lodges and smoke rooms of native Americans and other indigenous cultures. That is with a Korean twist. The rooms are full of rock salt, coal, jade, clay pellets, crystals, wood logs, and other materials. The aim of these rooms is to sit and sweat and let your stresses melt away. There are varying degrees of temperature to the rooms ranging from the highest that is well over 70 degrees Celsius, to a much more laid back environment where you can just relax in a moderately warm room. Another notable feature of the jjimjilbang is the bathing area. Depending on the size of the jjimjilbang you'll find a large or moderate bathing area. There are different kinds of tubs to sit in and soak away the day. Similar to hot rooms the tubs are filled with different kinds of minerals and range in temperature. From freezing cold water to extremely hot water you can pick your tub of choice. The jjimjilbang is a great respite for anyone in Korea. This social aspect of visiting the bath-houses is what makes it such a wonderful, mildly addicting, Korean cultural experience.
Bring your own toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, soap, body or face cleanser, and most importantly a Korean essential toiletry called Ddaemiri, a scrubber that you used to take off the dead layers of skin on your body.
Having the courage to do it and /or face it. First, do not freak out or panic. This is not exactly like going to your local pool or health club, where you can wear your bathing suit or have your own personal shower with a curtain, but rather just the opposite.
Allow yourself plenty of time. When you arrive, you should leave time at the door. This is a place to relieve stress and tension-unhurriedly. Two or three hours is adequate time, which gives you enough time to scrub, soak in the hot and cold tubs, and sit in the steam rooms or taken a nap. Too much time the sauna has adverse side-effects such as fainting or dehydration than normal because of the hot temperatures, your skin develops dry patches or becomes prune-like.
In general, two small towels are given to you; one is for you to take in the sauna, either to wrap your hair in or to sit in the hot or wet sauna. The other one, you should save, for drying off before going to the changing room. Make sure to dry off well when you go back into the changing room.
Wash your stool and washbasin before using them, and again after you are done.
Shower or scrub before entering the hot, steam rooms or hot and cold pools of water.
Save your spot. When you are done washing and want to move from your stool or washbasin, make sure to leave your stuff where you wash, that way your place is saved and no one will take it, but it is not always a guarantee.
Do not hang your laundry such as bras or underwear inside the hot, dry/steam rooms. There also may be a risk of having them stolen or lost.
Try putting some salt on your body inside the salt rooms. Salt is supposed to help detoxify you, which actually increased the heat of your body and used to your face or near your eyes and use in moderation.
Rinse with cold water by pouring a bowl of cold water over you first when you leave the hot, dry room or hot, wet room, and then enter the cold pool. If can be too much of a shock to your body system if you do not do this.
Try scrubbing your neighbor's back if asked (mostly in reference to women). Sometimes, someone may ask you to scrub their back since it is difficult to reach and scrub by yourself. In this case, the polite thing is to accept. It is also considered polite to have the favor returned. At this time, if you like, you can have your back scrubbed, but you may refuse. If it is your first time, just give it try.
Lastly, observe closely your surroundings, you will learn a lot more subtle etiquette than the general rules posted. Do not worry too much whether you are doing something wrong or not because Koreans will generously tell you what you are doing wrong.
Noreabang is one of Korea's favorite pastimes - essentially equivalent to Karaoke box in Japan. At a Noraebang which translates to "singing room", there's still a good chance of embarrassing yourself, or you can be as crazy as you want to be, but only among friends. You pick up songs and sing your little hearts out. People actually come to practice songs for their next outing with their office mates. Generally, they are usually set up like recording studios, with a series of soundproof rooms on either side of a long hallway.
Seoul and its vicinity
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Located in Gwacheon, the museum was established to present to the public a desirable direction for the Korean art and its culture, and to promote cultural development. It serves as a place of new opportunities for artists, and lifelong social education for citizens. The permanent exhibition at the museum consists of 500 artworks arranged throughout the museum by period and trend based on the currents of art history.
Circular Gallery and Central Hall-International Contemporary Art
Arranged according to the flow of the 20th century contemporary art, the artworks of world renowned artists such as Paik Nam June, a pioneer of video art, Bill Viola, one the of world's greatest video artists alive, Chuck Close, a hyper-realist, and Bernard and Hilla Becher, representatives of modern German photography are on display in this area. Located at the center of the museum, the Ramp Core is 13.8m in diameter and spirals upward to a height of 22.8 meters, in a vast space lit by skylights. Viewed from above, it is clear that the Ramp Core is the centerpiece of the museum. It also plays the role of a gateway as well as a connecting passageway to all galleries in the museum.
Galleries 3 and 4 - Modern and Korean Art
The flow of modern art can be seen all at a glance within these galleries located on the second floor. Gallery 3 features special permanent works as well as collections focused on figurative paintings. In Gallery 4, various works of contemporary Korean abstract art such as Abstract Expressionism, Art Informal, works of lyrical abstraction and geometric abstraction, optical paintings and monochrome paintings, etc. are on display.
Galleries 5 and 6 - Contemporary Korean Art
The Gallery 5 houses a collection of modern and contemporary Korean drawings and photographs. In the Gallery 6, a special exhibit on art donated by artists and an exhibit on contemporary Korean crafts are on display.
2nd and 3rd Floor Corridors
The 2nd floor corridor displays abstract paintings and sculptures from the 1980s to the present. And under the theme of Daily Life, and Daily People, the 3 rd floor corridor has been arranged with paintings, drawings, traditional Korean arts, and photographs from after the 1990's.
This section of the museum provides educational programs on art and exhibitions for children who visit the institution. The artwork of children who have participated in the education programs are also exhibited here.
Open Air Sculpture Garden
70 works by both Korean and foreign sculptors have been arranged outside against the backdrop of the Cheonggye and Gwanak Mountains. Visitors can appreciate the works as the scenes of nature change according to each season of the year.
Located 35km west of Seoul, this busy port city, Incheon marked the first accepted entry of Westerners into Korea by singing of Korean-American Amity and Commerce in 1882. In 1883 with an opening of the port, the first concession system started. Today's Jayu Park and its neighboring area were the concessions of British, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. But, the issue of existence of the concession of each country was raised even as imperialist Japan put Korea under their colony in 1910, and eventually abolished the common concession in 1914. Incheon acquired its first modern bank, a sub-branch of Japan's Dai-ichi Bank. It was the second modern bank office to operate in Korea. In February 1884, the first submarine cable connected Incheon with Japan, providing a vital link between Korea's own nascent telegraph system and the global network. It is interesting to note that the telegraph line between Seoul and Incheon became operational slightly later, in August 1885. Nowadays it does not sound that important, but back in the 1880s the ability of the electric telegraph to send messages instantly was a miracle. Incheon was also the first place in Korea to acquire a telegraph connection with the outside world. Incheon was also where the first Korean hotels appeared, catering to the demands of foreign merchants. In 1866 the Korean court came to blows with French because of the persecution of Christians in Korea, which resulted in the execution of nine French priests. In 1871 American ships attacked this harbor twice to avenge the General Sherman incident. The first railway was connected to Seoul in 1899. During the Korean War, Incheon became the site of the most spectacular landing in modern warfare. Incheon, perhaps, was not the best possible place for a port, since tides are exceptionally high in that area, and the numerous islands created additional stress for navigators, but the convenience of its location outweighed the other considerations. Today, Incheon international airport, opened on March 29, 2001, became the air traffic hub in the Far East. Expansion plans for the airport area include establishing a Free Trade Zone, International Business District and Special Economic Zone. Incheon still sprawls up and down the low hills with as yet no downtown concentrations of tall buildings to constitute the civic center. A 21.38km-long Incheon bridge links Incheon International Airport and New Songdo City, a eco-friendly and international trade center on Incheon's outskirt. Incheon offers endless things to see and do and is the type of place one can visit over and over again all the year round. The perplexing question of where to start can be dealt with by opting for a tour and there are a couple of programs catering for different needs and tastes.
The City Tour highlights include Wolmi-do, Jayu park, Sinpo Shopping Town, Chinatown, Yeonan Harbor and Incheon Port. Sinpo Market was the first daily market to open in Korea. It was formed after the opening of the Incheon Port in 1883 as new goods and foreign visitors began arriving from overseas. Various foods are sold at the market, but the most popular is the dak-gangjeong, fried chicken pieces coated with a sweet and sour sauce. It is common to find throngs of people lined up to buy a bowl of dak-gangjeong at the market.
Of the significant attraction is Dapdong Cathedral standing on low hill. It is where Priest Willem of the Paris Foreign Mission celebrated the first mass in Korea on the 1st of July, 1889. This Gothic church, designed by Father Coste of Parisian Missionaries, was built later in 1897. The red bricks are major materials and it is characterized by the sharp dome at the center and both sides of upper tower, as well as, the porch and arch windows. Another attraciton is Naeri church that was opened in 1891 by missionary Henry G. Appenzeller marks the first chapel of the Methodist church in Korea.
Other attraciton includes Heungryunssa. It is an active temple dating back to the 14th century providing a glimpse into the Buddhist culture. Unfortunately, the temple was lost to fire during the Japanese Invasion of Korea (1592-1598) and was left unattended for 340 years. Today, much of its ancient glory has been lost, but what the remain is still beautiful. The temple also operates a meditation center and a Manbuljeon, a hall that enshrines thousands of Buddha. Though the view from the temple is eye-catching at any time of day, the view at twilight is particularly stunning. Temple stay is also available, and you can experience a traditional monastic life.
The Incheon port is the second largest to the port of Pusan in traffic volume and capacity. It is an artificial port with its lock gates. The tidal difference here is more than 10m. With the construction of new lock gate in 1966, the port can accommodate the vessels up to 50,000 DWT to berth directly in the inner harbor. Incheon was merely a sleepy fishing village when the port was opened to the outside world in 1883. But now Incheon is the center of regional traffic. The scheduled boats serve passengers to the Chinese ports; Dalien, Tienjin, Yinggou, Dandong, Lianyunjiang, Qinhuangtao, Qingtao, Shidao, Yentai, and Weihai.
It is the country's first western style park built on the 69-meter-high Ungbongsan Mountain. It was built in 1888 to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the opening of Incheon port to the outside world. In 1883, this small mountain area was a concession of United States, United Kingdom, China, German and Japan. The park, located on Mt. Eunbongsan, boasts a scenic view of downtown Incheon and the Incheon port. Jayu Park with General MacArthur's statue which was erected in 1957 to commemorate his heroic efforts as the commander in chief of the United Nation's forces during the Korean War, is home to the memorial which commemorates the centennial anniversary of the signing of the 1882 Korea - U.S Security and Trade Treaty, marking 100 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and the United States.
Wolmido has played a role in history and was notably the site for the Incheon Landing Operation during the Korean War (1950-1953). In 1989, a reclamation project connected it to the mainland. Now, the Woldmido, an island 4 kilometers in circumference located about a kilometer off the coast and 1km west of the Incheon station, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Incheon. The view of sunset is gorgeous. The 840m-long coastal street is divided into 4 sections of meeting area, performance area, culture and art area and folk music area. An annual festival features traditional Korean dancing and singing, and sea parade. The waterfront, also known as street of culture was established along the beach where visitors can enjoy a meal or relax at one of the many cafes and restaurants. One can vegetate and watch the sea gulls or visit the amusement park situated nearby. Here you can shout all you want, buy helium balloons and watch other people. At night, Wolmi-do changes its facade and mood when the 10-meter-tall light pillars and rainbow-colored fountains are switched on. The cruise tours to the neighboring islands are available here. From the pier at Wolmido, ferries serve passenger to Yeongjongdo in 25 minutes, where the Incheon international airport is located.
The Chinatown was formed in the late 19th century, when Incheon was first opened its port to the outside world. Shortly after the opening of the harbor, numerous Chinese immigrated to Incheon and formed this community and the Chinese consulate was established a year later. Until the 1940s, the Chinatown was one of the largest and most dynamic commercial areas in Incheon. The Chinese trading houses here dealt in everything from Chinese silk to Oriental medicinal herbs. Chinatown also became known for its authentic Chinese cuisine. It is smaller now but, its Chinese characteristics and the aura of its heyday are still preserved.
Incheon Landing Operation
The high-risk operation Chromite was launched on the shores of Incheon on September 15, 1950. 75,000 soldiers and 261 battleships sailed north from Jejudo to the West Sea. U.S. intelligence officials arrived in Incheon beforehand to relay reports to the headquarters. UN troops arrived on Wolmido at 06:31, ready to begin their attack. Based on the original plan, they were one minute late. Soon after, the smell of gunpowder and smoke permeated the entire island of Wolmido , and the attack began. The North Korean troops were too taken aback by the unexpected blow to counterattack. As a result, UN troops were able to seize the entire island by 08:00. From the commanding post in Mount McKinley, General MacArther was watching the successful results of his plan. A violent battle raged on in downtown Incheon the night of the 15th, but by dawn, the North Korean troops were forced to retreat. From the operation, the death toll for UN forces was 20; the death toll for the North was over 1,400. The U.S. Marine Corps seized the Gimpo airport and moved warplanes over from Japan to Gimpo. Seoul was reclaimed on the 28th, after 2 weeks of intense battling. But, Seoul was no longer the city it used be. The Incheon Landing, far from Nakdong Rvier Front Line in the Busan Perimeter that UN and ROK Forces were desperatevely defending, allowed the UN and ROK Forces to go from defense to offerse at the Busan Perimeter, and totally turned the tide of Korean War. Gerneral MacArthur could gain the cooperation and coordination of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps commanders, despite their belief that the Incheon Landing Opration was nearly impossible because of difficulties with tides and many obstacles. Even last inch of the city was ravaged and war-stricken. The North Korean soldiers had ruthlessly killed all those who stood in their way.
Incheon Landing Operation Memorial Hall is a great representation of the events that happened over 60 years ago. The hall features documents that speak to Korean War, military uniforms of South and North Korea during that time, miniature dioramas of the operation, and weapons used in the Korean War. There are many visual exhibits, one of which in particular shows all three beaches; the green, red, and blue. The exhibit had lights that corresponded with each key action of the operation. The memorial also contains an outdoor exhibition space, performance stage, and observatory from where there are views of the sea and the sunset.
Gyeong-in Ara Waterway
This waterway is the Center of Logistics, Culture, and Tourism. The first encounter with the Gyeong-In Ara Waterway is very much anticipated. When Korea's long-cherished dream becomes a reality, the beauty of the vital and culture oriented eco-friendly waterfront spaces will be revealed. The Gyeong-In Ara Waterway, initiated as the Gulpo River Floodway, is an 18km-long canal which connects Seoul and the coastal city of Incheon to the Yellow Sea. This boat tour provides a chance to see 15 various bridges including the landmark of Ara Waterway, i.e., Si-Chon extradosed bridge, Baek-Seok cable-stayed bridge, Mok-Sang arch bridge and Gyeyang box girder bridge etc. A bikeway is well established along the waterway and the view is especially captivating in early April, when the cherry blossoms adorn the landscape.
Suwon is an ancient fortress city 48km south of Seoul. It is a walled city of one million people. In the heart of city sits Hwaseong fortress. The master plan of Suwon was first drawn up in 1794 by King Jeongjo for his deceased father who had been installed as crown prince, but became the victim of a court conspiracy and was unjustly condemned by his father to be smothered in a rice bin. The construction of the fortress was not only based on King Jeongjo's filial piety. The king also conceived the fortress as a new capital and as a southern base for the nation's politics and defense. One of the Suwon's great events is the royal parade that falls on every 8th of October. The royal carriage under the escort of the commanders and officers in the costume of the Joseon dynasty of thousands of volunteer citizens fills the street making it the world's largest parade. Suwon is harmonized between traditional culture and contemporary civilization, including a world heritage Hwaseong, one of the best castle architectural art, and tourist attractions in and around the city. Suwon is also well recognized for its Galbi, beef rib barbecue.
It was built in 1794-1796 during the reign of King Jeongjo, the 22nd ruler of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). Though it is relatively small in scale, Hwaseong has been recognized by experts as the best structure of its kind built ever built. The four gates of Paldalmun (south), Janganmun (north), Changnyongmun (east), and Hwaseomun (west) majestically stand in the four cardinal directions. Both the north and south gates are topped with two-storey wooden pavilions, while those of the east and west gates respectively, have only one storey. The four main gates are shielded by a semicircular chemise built of brick and flanked by gate guard platforms on either side. The fortress has a total perimeter of 5.74km and encloses an area of 1.3㎢ of both flatland and hilly terrain with well over 30 buildings including gates, watchtowers, command posts, arrow-launchers, fire bastions and beacon towers. The fortress is an excellent place to learn some of Korea's long history, see beautiful natural surroundings, and get a lot of exercise all at the same time. It is not so strenuous that it can't be enjoyed by all ages.
The fortress has multifunctional design as a military, political, and commercial center, making it very unique indeed. Hwaseong Haenggung sits inside the wall. It was a temporary palace where the king sought refuge during war and found rest during times of peace. The Hwaseong Haengung is the largest of all temporary palaces in Korea, used by King Jeongjo and the kings who followed. Of the most frequented points are Seobuk Gongsimdon watch tower for its architectural beauty. It is a 3-storey stone brick structure built on the side of the fortress wall. There was a hole in the wall which allowed sentries to keep an eye out for the events outside the walls and, also, to shoot guns from. This is a structure unique to Hwaseong Fortress- no other fortress or castle wall has anything like it. Facilities include Hwahongmun flood gate with its half-gabled and half-hipped roof and seven sluices at its base, Soejangdae, the commander post set on the highest point of the whole fortress. Paldalmun Gate stands in the middle of the main road through the complex. the sentry post perched on the edge of the turret, the beacon tower, which possesses five chimneys to create different smoke signals. The smoke from one chimney indicates that all is well, while the smoke from two chimneys indicates that the enemy has been spotted. Three chimneys are used when the enemy is approaching, and a fourth fire is stoked if the enemy has made their way into the city. The fifth fire is lit when active combat with the enemy has begun. There are sentry posts, a crossbow platform, a gate guard platform, an observation tower and secret gates leading down to the dark labyrinths. An exquisite pavilion is located on a hill that overlooks a lotus pond surrounded by beautiful willow trees. Below the pavilion sits northern floodgate, a stone bridge with seven arched sluices topped by an elegant open pavilion and brick-built parapet. During the construction of Hwaseong Fortress, it was mandatory for its builders to insert carved nameplates carrying their own names into the walls. There are nameplates present at Changryongmun Gate, Hwaseomun Gate, and Paldalmun Gate with the names of the foreman, stoneworkers, and more. This practice ensured quality work by assigning blame to the builders if a problem with the wall arose. The nameplate at Changryongmun Gate is the most visible. The fortress has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its architectural and historical significance.
Korean Folk Village
Located 35km south of Seoul is the open air living museum which recreates the life-style of several centuries ago. Set in a natural environment occupying approximately 980,000m², visitors can experience the authentic atmosphere with over 260 traditional houses reminiscent of the late Joseon Dynasty including various household goods from the different regions. All these features have been relocated and restored to provide visitors with a general view of Korean food, clothing, and housing style of the past era. A wide assortment of residential structures, from the straw-thatched cottages of commoners to the 99-room mansion of the noble class including Dongheon, a central building in which local authorities conducted public affairs, has been re-created to help illustrate the diversity of traditional Korean culture. The structures are good examples of housing styles once owned by peasants, farmers and government officials. The Korean Folk Village , peopled by real artisans and craftsmen dressed in traditional Korean costumes, is a functioning community displaying how things really were. It is the place where artists and artisans ply their trades. Here you can see numerous workshops and handcrafts recreating the traditional scene; pottery, baskets, winnows, bamboo wares, wooden wares, paper, brass wares, knots, fans, musical instruments, iron wares and embroidery are practiced. The Korean Folk Village offers various performances as well, including folk music and dance, tightrope acrobatics, traditional weddings, traditional teeter-totter, and seasonal cultural and art performances, as well as many other events. Traditional Korean life also comes alive with a treasure trove of household goods and furnishings from the different regions found in each of the homes. Of special interest is the Ondol floor heating system which was used to heat homes during the harsh Korean winters as well as the ubiquitous Jangdokdae storage containers found outside all buildings. Usually outside of a home to bask in the sun, the jars normally contain soy sauce, fermented soybean paste, thick soybean paste mixed with red pepper. Other highlights of the village include exciting performances by the Farmers' Band in the performing arena. The acrobatic spins by some of the performers as they race around the arena are always a big hit with the audiences. An equally impressive acrobatics tightrope act, or Jultagi, designated as the Intangible Culture Property #58 that dates back to the Three Kingdoms era (57 B.C.- A.D. 668) as well as a traditional wedding ceremony and an acrobatic see-saw routine are held in the morning and in the afternoon. The traditional marketplace located at the rear of the village features a number of food stands where visitors can sample the exotic flavors of Korean cuisine including such popular culinary delights Pindaetok, a Korean-style pancake that goes well with Dongdongju, an alcoholic beverage made from rice.
Located 30km south of Seoul is the country's largest amusement park. The park is home to over 40 heart-pounding rides and attractions. It has three theme parks; Festival World which is equipped with more than 40 theme attractions and a zoo offering a fascinating opportunity to safari the games. At 'Herbivore Safari' visitors can get up close and personal with the safari's giraffes, elephants, and ostriches. Open year-round, Everland has different attractions to complement Korea's four distinct seasons. Snow buster, a series of bobsled and sleigh riders, opens in winter, Everland is also known for its gorgeous flower arrangements and beautiful gardens, which have been year-round fixtures since the Rose Festival in 1985. Nearly two million tulips bloom in Holland Village in spring, bikinis abound during the sweltering summer heat at Caribbean Bay, the largest water-park sparkling with the excitement of tropical seas and shores. On Fantastic Express, a roller coaster that features a double barrel-roll followed by a double loop. Of the 40 rides in Everland almost half are in Magic Land. A spin through Safari Land is a must regardless of your age. Buses coast through this park of lions, tigers, zebras, giraffes, and bears. Everland is enjoyed from the giant Ferris Wheel in the center of the Park. The Festival World holds a variety of events celebrating the beauty of each season. The festivals of Tulip, Rose, Musicals, Fall and Winter. Full of exciting attractions and entertainment, Everland is one of the most popular places in Korea for families, friends, and couples. Souvenir shopping and dining also add the pleasure of the visitors. Hoam Art Museum, set on a picturesque hill next to Everland, offers a comprehensive glimpse to the history of the Korean art with its 15,000 collections. In addition, a walk through the tranquil garden brings visitor an added pleasure.
Located in Nungwon-ri in Yongin city, the museum displays over 400 oil lamps and candlesticks in chronological order. They are also arranged according to their usage, whether they were used in main rooms, guest rooms or kitchens. The museum has four floors above and one floor underground. The underground floor provides plenty of rooms for various cultural events including stage performances, art exhibitions and symposiums.
A four-kilometer-wide strip of land runs clean across the Korean peninsula from east to west, dividing two Koreas. Although an Armistice came into effect in July 1953, the two Koreas are theoretically still at war. The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) extends for 2km on either side of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL). The 27 July 1953 Armistice Agreement established the DMZ along the approximate line of ground contact between the opposing forces at the time the truce ended the Korean War. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and the east end lying north of it. This 4 kilometers-wide strip of land straddling the 250Km long Military Demarcation Line (MDL) serves as a buffer zone between South and North Korea. Both the South and North Korean Governments hold that the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) as only a temporary administrative line, not a permanent border. Despite its name, DMZ is the most heavily militarized and fortified border on the planet. The Northern Limit Line, or NLL, is the de-facto maritime boundary between South and North Korea in the Yellow Sea and the coastline and islands on both sides of the NLL are also heavily militarized.
Panmunjeom is commonly referred to as JSA (Joint Security Area). In accordance with the Armistice Agreement between the U.N and communist forces, Panmunjeom became the headquarters of the Military Armistice Commission. After 765 talks between the U.S, North Korea, and China the Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953, and it has been the longest case to cease fire in history. The JSA is an 800 meter wide enclave, roughly circular in shape, bisected by the Military Demarcation Line separating South and North Korea. It is an outside administrative control of South and North Korea. The UN and North Korea sides each operate 6 guard posts. The JSA has been the site of numerous major events since its establishment, the first of which was the repatriation of POWs. From August 5 to September 6, 1953, under the name Operation Big Switch and Operation Big Swap, both side prisoners were repatriated, at their free choice of destination, here. The U.N.C. returned 75,823 POWs (70,183 Koreans, 5,640 Chinese); the Communists repatriated 12,773 U.N.C. POWs (7,862 Koreans, 3,597 Americans, 946 British). It was also the locale of the return from North Korea into the free world by 82 crew members of the U.S Navy ship Pueblo on December 23, 1968. On August 18, 1976, the cold calculating aggression of the North Korean communists reached shocking proportions when two American military officers were hacked to death in cold blood with axes in a surprise attack here. It was around 10:45 A.M. when some 30 North Korean soldiers, led by their lieutenant, approached a UN work team consisting of 5 Korean Army members, 6 U.S. servicemen, and 5 Korean workers. They were trimming popular tree in the area south of the Bridge of No Return near Guard Post No. 3 on the UN side. They commanded the UN side not to cut the trees, but the UN team said the work had been prearranged through appropriate measures. An argument began, and a North Korean slapped a U.S. officer on his cheek, then told him he would be killed if he continued to cut the trees. The quarrel continued, and suddenly 30 more North Koreans rushed to the scene from their guard post, wielding axes. As a result, two U.S. officers, Captain Arthur Bonifas and Lieutenant Mark Barret, were hit by the axes and died on the spot, and 9 other members of the UN work team were seriously wounded. The North Koreans also destroyed 3 trucks and a guard post on the UN side. After the incident U.S. President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger strongly protested to North Korea in a statement, and the U.S. commanding post in Korea placed its troops on combat-ready status DEFCON 3. In the meantime, the U.S. began to relocate a fighter-bomber squadron and a marine unit from Okinawa to Korea, while ordering 2 carriers, Ranger and Midway, to move into Korean waters. At 7 A.M. on August 21, the UN commanding post, after placing its troops on a status of imminent war conditions DEFCON 2, finished the tree-trimming work. On August 21, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, as the supreme commander of the North Korean People's Army, sent a written apology to the head of the UN command. The talks between the UN command and North Korea began from September 1 and agreed to draw a line dividing the JSA into the south and north, and to take independent responsibility for maintaining their respective area. House of Peace provides facilities for non-military and civilian meetings between two Koreas, and Freedom House for South-North contacts, meetings and Liaison Office with South and North Korea. Panmungak of North Korea stands across the border about 80m north of South Korean Freedom House. The building serves as offices for North Korean guards and is also used to hold propaganda activities. The security forces from the both sides staring each other down across the border. There is a Military Armistice Commission Conference Room where the border cuts a path right through the center. The visitors may walk around the room and can hop from South to North if they wish. Not far from this conference room is located a hilltop where one can look out and see North Korean observation posts, the site of the July 27, 1953 armistice that ended Korean War, 72 Hour Bridge leading the North Koreans into the JSA, North Korean propaganda village, Gijeong-dong where the world's largest flag (30m x 14m) hangs on a 160 meter-tall flagpole. Closer to where you stand, grassy area at the fringe of a forest are short white posts and a rusty old sign marking the border. A little way down the hill is the site of the Axe Murder Incident. A memorial monument that speaks to the tragic incident is set up on the round platform marking the murder site. Next to the site is The Bridge of No Return, middle of which runs through the Military Demarcation Line. Korean War Prisoners crossed this bridge at their choice of destination. If they choose to cross, they would never be allowed to return, hence the name. A Soviet journalist named Vasily Matusak was on a tour from the other side and he defected to the South on Nov. 23, 1984. Thirty Korean People's Army troops chased him across the Military Demarcation Line and there was a 40-minute firefight that ended with one Southern and three Northern soldiers were killed. Despite the turbulent past, both sides continue to meet at the Conference Room. Panmunjeom provides visitors with one of the best opportunities to understand the situation, the tensions, and the reality of the South and North Korean division. In gazing the Bridge of No Return and Axe murder site, you will be profoundly impressed at the stark reality and immense tragedy of divided Korea.
The 3rd tunnel
It was discovered on October 17, 1978, 4km south of Panmunjeom, after a thorough scientific research aided by the testimony of Mr. Kim Busung, who was a surveyor in the North Korean army and joined this tunneling, but later defected to South Korea in 1975. It is one of the several underground tunnels dug under the DMZ by North Korea. A 1,635m-long tunnel, only 52km away from downtown Seoul, it is a vivid hint of re-infiltration. As is often the case with them, they denied its construction, claiming that it was dug by South Korea to attack the North. However, the dynamite holes all point toward the South. The tunnel is designed at a three thousandth angle with northern side lower than southern side, so that water does not stagnate inside tunnel. This finding, along with other clues, clearly affirmed their construction. The tunnel was constructed in the granite bed 73 meters underground. It has an average width and height of 2 meters. The total known length of the tunnel is 1,635 meters, 435m of which are found in the South over the Military Demarcation Line. The tunnel, if used by armed forces, would allow about 30,000 soldiers to infiltrate into the south in the matter of one hour. The visitors can walk up to as close as 170 meters from the Military Demarcation Line. However, a person who suffers from a weak heart, claustrophobia, or has difficulty in breathing must not enter into the tunnel. At the entrance, there is a piece of work representing the people's hope to realize peace and the unification of Korean peninsula. The arches over the sphere represent the Seoul-Sinuiju railway that will extended into Europe. The divided sphere symbolizes a lasting cold war vestige - the divided Korean peninsula. Statues surrounding the leaning halves are elements that work together to reunite the Korean peninsula. A shuttle tram and interception tunnel was built, offering easy access to the tunnel. Visitors are not allowed on an individual basis, it is necessary to book a DMZ day trip through tour operators.
The northernmost station in South Korea on the Gyeongui Line at which Dorasan and the barbed wire fence of the Southern Limit Line can be viewed. Following the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, the Gyeongbu Railway Line, which used to run between the two Koreas, was restored. Dorasan station, which is located within the Civilian Control Line, was opened, and in 2002. President Kim Dae-Jung and President George W. Bush visited here together in 2002 and sent a peace message to the North. Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave a peace lecture here. Near the station is Dora observatory, the northernmost observatory in the South that allows tourists to get their closest glimpse of North Korea. Here, visitors can view full expanse of Demilitarized zone including North Korean propaganda village, Gijeongdong, where the world's largest flag (35m x 28m) hangs on a 160m-tall flagpole. In 2007, the German rock band Scorpions visited here to offer earnest wishes for peace and unification.
The 1st Tunnel
The first underground tunnel designed to invade the South was discovered on November 15, 1974, about 8km northeast of Gorangpo. It is a 3,5km long tunnel constructed 45m below the ground, 1km of which are found in the South over the Military Demarcation Line. It has an average width of 90Cm and height of 1.2m. The UN headquarters called for a joint investigation of the tunnel, but the North refused, claiming that they had nothing to do with it. North Korean phone lines and records detailing plans to invade the South were found in the tunnel.
Located about 50km northwest from Seoul and about 7km south of the Military Demarcation Line, Imjinkak is a remnant of the Korean War (1950-1953). This is a place where visitors contemplate the tragedy of the Korean War and the national division that followed. It was built in 1972 to console those who had to leave their homes in the North. At the Mangbaedan altar provided on the courtyard displaced North Koreans pray for their ancestors. Located nearby is the Freedom Bridge. It is a foot bridge only, 83m-long and 4.5m-wide, which was built 8 meters above the ground. It is a locale where 12,773 Korean War prisoners walked to freedom. The bridge now serves as a place of remembrance for families who are separated. South Koreans tie bright colored ribbons covered in messages to the bridge, messages for their family members in the North, or in memorial of family members who died in the North. Nearby is a railway which once ran into North Korea. A locomotive engine is on display by the bridge. This rust out 15m-long engine is a symbol of the tragic history of the divided Korea. Since it got derailed by bombs during the Korean War, the freight train was finally hacked and destroyed thus disabled transporting military supplies by the enemy. The engine was neglected for nearly 60 years in the DMZ at Jangdan station. More than 1,000 bullet holes and its bent wheels speak to the devastation of the war. There is a collection of stones from 86 battlefields in 64 countries known as the Peace Stones that have witnessed suffering and grief of war. There is a memorial monument that is erected in recognition of the sacrifice of the seventeen members of the diplomatic mission. They were killed at the at the Martyr's mausoleum in Rangoon, Burma in a savage massacre by North Korean terrorist bomb squad on October 9, 1983. The seventeen levels of 17 meter monument symbolize the number of those whose lives were lost in this tragedy. Other exhibits include tanks and planes that were used in the Korean War. Imjinkak is truly a symbolic spot for all the Korean for the peaceful unification of the country. Not far from the Imjingak is unification village of Tongilchon, a home to 133 families and a total of 493 residents. It is in the northern area of the Civilian Control Line, and the people who live there are exempt from tax and military service. The soybeans and ginseng are among the specialties of this village.
Heyri, about an hour ride from Seoul, is a small village formed by artists in 1998. Today, it is a home to 380 artists including writers, painters, sculptures, movie directors, architects, musicians, and journalists, etc. The entire town is full of artistic activities around the year. Heyri is a favorite venue for art lovers and photographers, with numerous galleries, museums and interesting looking houses. Various exhibitions and performances are carried out every year, beckoning fans to come and enjoy art.
The Ganghwado, located 50km west of Seoul, has been the prominent location in much of the Korean history. Ganghwado is a fascinating island that is often called a microcosm of Korean history. But, due to its strategic location, Ganghwado has historically been one of the first targets of many foreign attacks particularly in the late 19th century when Korea unsuccessfully sought to maintain its status as a "Hermit Kingdom". Ganghwa is also known for Dolmens, which are simple burial chambers, erected over the bodies or bones of Neolithic and Bronze Age worthies. They are generally classified in the table-type and the go board-type. In the former, four stones were positioned to make the walls of a box and were capped by a stone which lay on top of the supports. The latter is characterized by underground burial with stones that supported the capstone. In Ganghwado about 160 Dolmens are mostly populated along the Goryeosan mountain edge in the area of Bugeun-ri, Samgeo-ri, and Osang-ri. Ganghwado is the fifth largest island in Korea, formed by 11 inhabited and 17 uninhabited islands.The Ganghwa Bridge and Chojin Bridge link the island with the mainland. It has historically been the focus of many foreign attacks on the Korean peninsula due to its geographical importance. In the 19th century, the island was the scene of Korean battles resisting the military forces of France and the United States. Several fortresses are rebuilt to commemorate these battles. Another very important aspect of this island, and Korean history in general, is Buddhism. The Jeondeungsa temple which was found in 381 AD by the Goguryeo monk Ado, is an active Buddhist temple, providing a glimpse into the Buddhist culture. In 1299 when a queen donated a jade lamp, the temple was renamed the Jeondeung temple or the Temple of the Bequeathed Lamp. The island is also famous for ginseng. Ginseng has historically been considered an empowering medicine and an aphrodisiac in Korea. Five to six years are required to raise the plant to maturity, while great care and expertise are needed in its cultivation, thatched straw-roof lean-toss are erected in long rows to protect the tender plants from too much rain, wind or direct sunlight. Ganghwa Ginseng Center is the largest wholesale market in the island for all kinds of Ginseng products being sold directly by the farmers. A root shaped like a man, ginseng may be bought unprocessed, dried, powdered or even candied. The visit to the ginseng market is short but memorable. The island is also well known for its dolmen or megalith. There are more than 150 dolmens only in Ganghwado.
Dolmens usually consist of two or more undressed stone slabs supporting a huge capstone. It is generally accepted that they were simple burial chambers, erected over the bodies or bones of Neolithic and Bronze Age worthies. Earth mounds (barrows) would have covered them, but these would gradually disappear as a result of weathering. In East Asia two main groups have been recognized, classified according to their form: the table type (the northern type) and the go-board type (the southern type). The first is an above-ground construction: four stone slabs are set up en edge to form a box or cist and a large capstone is laid on top. In the second case, the burial chamber is constructed below ground, with walls of slabs or piled stones; the capstone is supported on a number of stones laid on the ground. The so-called "capstone" type is a variant of the go-board type in which the capstone is laid directly on the buried slabs. Dolmen tombs, found throughout the world but most often in Northeast Asia, are typical megalithic remains of the Bronze Age. Reminiscent of Stonehenge in England or Moai Statues on Easter Island, some 36,000 of Northeast Asia's 40,000 odd dolmens tombs are concentrated in Korea. The dolmen tombs, made over 3,000 years ago, serve as a reminder of the county's ancient culture and reveal the burial customs and megalith worship of the prehistoric age. Ganghwa dolmen located 6km south of the town, is one of the very important historical relics for the study of northeastern Asian dolmens.
Some of the significant Dolmens are as follow.
Daesan-ri Dolmen. Less convenient to access, it is worth a visit. This table-type Dolmen has 3 supporting stones and the scale of the capstone is 3.8m long, 2.6m wide and 50cm thick. Its major axis is oval shaped and the edge seems to be considerably underground and the lower supporting stone has fallen.
Ganghwa Jiseokmyo Dolmen. This 53-ton capstone of 6.4 meters long, 5.2 meters wide and 1 meter thick rests on two sturdy supporting prop stones. This prehistoric dolmen including many others in Gochang and Hwasun has been registered by UNESCO in December 2002 as a World Heritage for their archaeological value. And about 500m away at the foot of the low hill contains 14 Dolmens, Bugeun-ri Dolmen Group.
Jeomgol Dolmen. Sitting on the roadside at the end foot of the mountain ridge, it is a typical table type Dolmen with an oval shaped capstone of granitite. Its major axis lies from north to south and it gets thinner as it goes up. Relics such as stone arrowheads were unearthed here in 2009.
A little further on at the fork, well over 30 minutes easy hike gets you to the Samgeo-ri Dolmen Group, where nine table-type Dolmens scattered along down the ridge of the mountain in the back of the village. Sacred blood on the capstgone and querry found here could be a critical clue of Dolmen construction.
And a short distance from the Jeomgol Dolmen is Sinsam-ri Dolmen that can be seen from the roadway.
After a considerable hike from the main road is Osang-ri Dolmen Group where 12 Dolmens both large and small are centered on a low hill retaining their perfection intact. Here, comb patterned pottery pieces of the Neolithic Age, a chipped stone wares, polished stone wares, stone arrowheads and mandolin-shaped daggers of the Bronze Age were found in ealry 2000.
Located on the top of Manisan on Ganghwado, Chamseongdan is a large stone altar that was originally built in the 24th century BCE. According to legend, the founder of Korea, Dangun, built it himself, and made sacrifices here to the heavens. Based on perspectives of round heaven and square earth, the altar has its bottom square with its top round. The altar is still being used on 3 October, National Foundation Day. In addition, this is the place where a sacred flame for national athletic events is ignited. The trail is pretty steep. Most of it is covered with trees and sheltered from the sun. You will experience dirt paths, rocky paths, climbing up and over large rocks, having to hold on to ropes to avoid falling down cliffs, and the typical Korean mountain staircase. Well over one hour ascend gets you to the 495m summit from the base.
The trail is pretty steep. Most of it is covered with trees and sheltered from the sun. You will experience dirt paths, rocky paths, climbing up and over large rocks, having to hold on to ropes to avoid falling down cliffs, and the typical Korean mountain staircase. Once you get high enough, there are a few great view points to stop on top of flat, smooth rock surfaces and admire the scenery. At the top of Manisan is located a stone altar which appears to have its bottom square with its top round. The altar is still being used on 3 October, National Foundation Day. In addition, this is the place where a sacred flame for national athletic events is ignited.
Ganghwa History Museum
Composed of two ground floors and one underground, it is an excellent facility that familiarizes visitors with the entire spectrum of Korean existence, from the mythical foundation of Korea to the opening port to the outside World. Displayed on the first floor is the commander's flag of General Eo Jae-yeon (1823-1871). During the western disturbance in 1871, the American forces took this flag to the U.S. Housed in the museum of the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, it was brought home in 2007. Next to the flag is one of eight bronze bells, which was built in 1711 by monk Sainbigu. The "Draft for the Korean-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce", which was prepared by Lee Hong-jang in 1882, recalls the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement. Among the items on display are the relics from the prehistoric age to the modern day of Ganghwa including those from the royal tombs of Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), as well as collections from traditional Buddhist temples.
The word Dondae refers to a small military stronghold equipped with cannons. Gapgot Dondae with eight cannons, guarded the Ganghwa strait during the Mongolian invasion (1232-1270), and it was the initial defense line of the island. In 1644, it was positioned as the Jemuljin garrison and the fortification project began - the work was finished in 1679. Cannons from the later Joseon dynasty still can be seen in the outpost, bearing witness to the harsh struggle to protect the country.
It is the Korea's first Anglican Church, which is a notably unusual church with Western, Korean, Christian, Buddhist and Confucian influences. This church was consecrated by the first Bishop Charies John Cofe in 1900, and named for Saint Peter and Paul. A royal architect let building work. Since then, several renovation works have been done, but it preserved the original form. The site of this building resembles the Ark, demonstrating this church's image of Salvation. Based on the Korean traditional mode, this rectangular shaped church (7.2m x 18m) applies the Basilica style to its placement and interior, representing the mix of Korean and western architectural beauty.
Being one of the Ganghwa fortresses, it was the scene of some of the fiercest battles particularly in 1871. The American army attacked Korea with about 1230 soldiers. It was August 1866 when the U. S, merchant ship, General Sherman, sailed up to Daedong River for trade, believing that it was sailing up Hangang River to reach Seoul. The ship was grounded as the tide went out, and the crew aroused indignation of the governor of Pyeongyang and the local inhabitants with their misconducts. The ship was burnt and the crews were all put to death. The second disturbance came in 1871, when the US government, which has refused to send a joint expedition with the French to Korean in 1866, ordered its minister in China to launch military action against Korea in order to receive an apology from the Korean government for the destruction of the General Sherman and to sign a treaty. As a result, Commodore John Rodgers, commander of the U.S. Asian Squadron was sent to Korea. Arriving in May 1871 with five warships, the American troops attacked the fortifications on Ganghwa Island and captured one of the forts after killing 350 Korean troops with only light casualties on their side.
Set in the southeast of Ganghwa Island, the garrison was established in 1656. This fortress has been the site of several historic battles - the French campaign led by Admiral Pierre-Gustave Roze in October 1866 in a revenge of Catholic persecution, the April 1871 invasion by the American Asian Fleet under Rodgers for an apology of the damage of the General Sherman, and August 1875 battle with the Japanese ship Unyomaru, asking for opening the port, which finally led Gnaghwa Treaty with Japan in 1876. This was the Korea's first modern treaty, signed under the foreign pressure though. The marks of cannon balls on the fortress stones and one surviving old pine tree witnesses the spectacular result of cannon fire damage sustained during the disturbance.
As one of the 12 main fortresses in Ganghwa, this was constructed in 1679 during the Joseon dynasty. After the French invasion of 1866, a warning monument was set up here that shows Korea maintained a determined isolation policy in the 19th century remains as a testament to this policy.
The Aegibong or Mistress Peak is located near Han-river estuary, just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. It is 43km Northwest of Seoul and 23km south of Gaeseong in the North. This estuary itself forms neutral zone, and it is formed by Imjin-river and Han-river at that junction and flows into the west sea. On its 154-meter-high peak, about a two kilometers from the North Korea stands a 30-meter-tall steel tower. It had been an annual ritual for South Korea to turn on Christmas lights on the tower every year. But, it was suspended in 2003 after a deal was reached to halt cross-border propaganda. The tradition revived after the sinking of a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 sailors in March, 2010 and deadly shelling of a South Korean island in November in the same year near the disputed western maritime border between the two Koreas. South Korea allowed Christian groups to light the tower in 2010 and 2012 as tensions spiked.
This is the first such display in seven years, and about 100,000 colorful light bulbs were illuminated. Christians sang a hymn in front of a Christmas tree on top of the Aegibong in 2010.
A 43-year-old frontline Christmas tower that North Korea viewed as propaganda warfare was demolished in October, 2014 because it was seen as dangerous in recent safety checks. A park will be put on the site where the tower stood.
Goryeo Palace Site
This is the site of the palace where several kings during the Goryeo period (918 - 1392) resided during their tenacious 39-year resistance against Mongol invaders. In June 1232, King Gojong moved his capital to rugged Ganghwa Island. In 1234, the Goryeo Palace and government office were finished, but the palace was unattended when the King returned to Gaeseong in 1270. A detached palace here was used during the Joseon period (1392 - 1910). However, in 1637, the palace fell to Manchu invaders. Due to several foreign attacks, the site was devastated and later in the Joseon dynasty, it was renovated along with the original Korean archives buildings, the belfry and the official government buildings.
Goyang city, located in the northwest of Seoul, is dominated by Flower and massive Lake Park, a relatively successful example of urban planning that boasts bike paths, jogging tracks, artificial islands, and even a singing fountain. The park is ringed by plush new apartment complexes that are also worth a look.
Agricultural activities flourished since the prehistoric age with its wide hills and Hangang River. For its strategic location, this area has been always at the center of historic events from the Three Kingdom Period and a town by the capital during Goryeo and Joseon dynasty.
Goyang-hyun was taken from the letter Go of Gobong-hyeon and Yang of Deokyang-hyeon (a district unit), which was upgraded as Goyang-gun in 1471 and to Goyang city on February 1, 1992. Today, with excellent city infrastructures and easy accessibility of Seoul and Incheon International Airport, Goyang city is making a mark as a city of international exhibitions, culture and arts. And facilities such as KINTEX, Goyang Aramnuri Arts Center, Eoulimnuri Arts Center and broadcasting stations are some of the attractions of the city. The nearby department stores, La Festa and Western Dom shopping and entertainment complexes house a variety of boutiques, restaurants, and nightspots that rival almost anything in the capital.
Seongnam is one of the neighbor cities of Seoul. Located 30km southeast of Seoul, the city became the fast growing community with its new town of Bundang built in the 1990s. There are number of historical relics and cultural assets in and around this city. Another well-known attraction of the city is the Moran Market. First opened in the 1930s, this local market has withstood a huge influx of modern civilization and has upheld the traditional market customs. The market deals in both retail and wholesale with its 12 specific sections, floriculture, grain, medicinal herbs, apparel, sundries, fisheries, vegetables, foods, peppers, pets, poultry and miscellaneous. The market, which opens in every 5 days on dates with the numbers 4 and 9 in them, is truly a great attraction of the city.
About an hour ride from Seoul is Yangju, a home of mask drama, Yangju Bteolsandaenori. Designated as an important intangible cultural asset, Bolsandaenori is a form of drama that satirizes the joys and sorrows of common people and social concerns. The drama unfolds as various people including a spoiled aristocrat, a depraved monk, a shaman, servants, and disclose the social ironies through unique dance and gestures, and both comical and provocative dialogues which are extremely entertaining. On every Saturdays and Sundays, there is a performance for two hours from 3 O'clock. Visitors can enjoy mask drama, farmer's dance, and learn the basic steps of mask dances as well. The 14th century Hoeamsa temple site is among the attraction of Yangju.
There are two cities in Korea that share the same name Gwangju. One is in the Gyeonggido province and the other is in Jollanamdo. Just 10km east of Songnam or 40km southeast of Seoul is Gwangju city. Of the most famous attraction of Gwangju is the Namhansanseong fortress. King Munmu of the Silla Dynasty (reign 661-681) first had a small-scale fortress with earthen walls built here in 672 after unifying the Korean peninsula. That compound was known as Jujangsung. The wall defining the boundary of the fortress closely follows the contour of the steep mountain it is on, making it difficult to assault and easy to defend. Inside the wall, meanwhile, is a flat wide open space that provides a comfortable place to live. In 1612, the ruler GwanghaeGun made the wall for the defensive position of the capital. The 8km-long fortress, which actually dates to the Three Kingdoms period, had been greatly renovated from 1624 in anticipation of the invasion. During a Manchu invasion in 1636, king Injo took a refuge with his court to this fortress but, after 45 days fighting with his 17,000 troops, he finally surrendered here. Even today, the wall is intact with numerous facilities including twelve gates, four command posts, a palace, a variety of office buildings, several shrines and seven temples. The existing facilities include four gates, training center, two shrines, the Changgyeongsa temple and a two-storey defense command lookout.
About 60km south of Seoul is Icheon. The city is famous for celadon manufacturing. Icheon has been the center of traditional Korean potteries ever since 500 years ago. Today, Icheon is home to numerous ceramists who continue to learn and pass down the traditional potteries. You will be able to see artisans at work designing, creating and manufacturing several different kinds of ceramics. Watching the master craftsmen work is fascinating and there are also ample opportunities to purchase lovely works at factory prices. Annual Icheon ceramic festival provides visitors with the opportunity to try their hands at pottery making. Icheon is also famous for its Hot Spring. First discovered in 1870, the springs contain high sodium which is beneficial for soothing skin problems, arthritis, and gynecological diseases.
About 20km east of Icheon is Yeoju where the tomb of King Sejong, who invented the Korean alphabet, is located. The tombs were built to honor the memory of ancestors, to show respect for their achievements, to assert royal authority, to protect ancestral spirits from evil and to provide protection from vandalism. A royal tomb was a sacred place where the deceased could "live" in the afterlife amidst dynasty-protecting ancestral spirits. There are three keys to understanding the royal tombs: the topography of the site and the layout of the tomb; the types of burial mounds, the sites' associated structures and the nature and aesthetic qualities of site-specific stone objects; and the rites associated with the burials as well as extant documents that verify the construction process. During the Joseon Dynasty, sites were chosen according to Fengshui principles. There is Silleuksa temple. Built in the Silla dynasty, the temple later became the royal memorial temple for the king and the royal family. The 7-storey pagoda is the only brick pagoda from the Goryeo Dynasty. In addition, Yeoju is famous for its rice, melon and sweet potatoes.
It is the first ever German-style spa in Asia. Termeden means "spa paradise," a combination of the words "therme" or spa in German, and Eden representing paradise. It is modeled after the "badehaus" or bathhouses of Germany, where people received water therapy to cure their ailments. The pools are designed with equipment that massages and stimulates the body. It also has medicated baths such as lemon, herb and cave baths. Termeden recommends specific bath programs, such as a "warming up course" for people who feel weary; a "refreshing course" for stressed out people, and a "fat reduction course" for people who don't get enough exercise. There is also a pool filled with "doctor fish," which are known to consume the dead skin on the feet of bathers.
Moga Museum and the Silleuksa temple in Yeoju provide a great opportunity to appreciate Buddhist culture. The museum presents not only various ancient Buddhist and Korean artifacts, but also many of the wooden creations of famous sculptor Park Chan Soo himself. The museum specializes in upholding the traditions of Buddhist art and the process and techniques used in traditional woodcrafts. Of the items displayed in the museum are various artifacts related to Buddhism including paintings and statues, works of calligraphy, and figures of young monks. The outdoor sculpture park displays stone images of Buddha and pagodas. Moga museum has a total collection of 6,000 pieces.
About 30km northeast of Seoul is Gwangneung, the home of the National Arboretum. It has been carefully managed for more than 500 years. It was designated as the Imperial Forest of the Joseon dynasty. This dense forest is a part of the tomb site of King Sejo, the 7th ruler of the Joseon dynasty. This area has one of the most diverse ecosystems in Korea. Gwangneung Forest, the biggest repository of diverse plant species in Korea, has been officially listed as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. The biosphere zone is a core area that houses broadleaf trees that have grown to their fullest, along with other endangered species and is where strict conservation policies are in place. The buffer zone that surrounds and protects the core area is facilitated as a place to study and learn the ecosystem. The arboretum supports more than 1,900 native and 12,800 non-native plants of 2,844 different species of trees, shrubs, and herbs. It is also the habitat of rare redheaded woodpeckers, as well as giant flying squirrel, long-horned beetle. The arboretum consists of 15 special sections; wetland flora, alpine plants, aquatic plants, deciduous trees conifer trees, ground cover plants, medicinal and edible herbs, subtropical plants, foreign flora, and botanical plants. About 5 million square meters arboretum with its lovely trails under the woods are of a great spot for refreshment. The Arboretum Museum displaying 28,000 articles is another attraction of the area. It displays various fauna and flora samples, arboriculture technology, natural resources and diverse products made from wood. Opened on October 15, 1999, the Ecological trail of 462 meters winds through the pristine forest. Walking along the wooden plank paths, visitors can closely observe the community of living organisms interacting with their environment, which is the essence of nature. Visitors can set their eyes on tender spring greens, or crimson foliage, or spectacular snowcaps. Internet reservation is required to visit the arboretum. Closed on Sunday and Monday.
It is located about 50km southwest of Seoul. Sihwa Lake is highlighted with Tidal Power Plant. It is the world's largest tidal power installation, providing indirect environmental benefits as well as renewable energy generation, with a total power output capacity of 254MW with 10 units. Construction of the plant began in 2004 and was completed in 2011. Maximum tidal range in Sihwa is about 9m in spring tide. Power is generated on tidal inflows only and the outflow is sluiced away. Operation of the Plant contributes to improve the water quality of Lake Sihwa which has been polluted seriously due to cutting off sea water exchanges. A visit to the theme park will familiarize you with the theory of tidal power generation, Single-Effect Flood Generation Type.
Located 70km south of Seoul, Anseong with 160,000 people, has long been known to be the town of best quality brassware. The Korean expression of "Anseong Machum" for the things made to order to one's greatest satisfaction originated in Anseong, where they produced high quality brassware ordered by the government offices and the ruling class during Joseon period. Anseong brassware artisans were famous across the country for their accomplished technique and professionalism gave rise to this expression. In addition, Anseong is the home of Korea's true traditional tastes and fun. Colorful festivals, performances, rice, grapes, pear, beef and ginseng are among its local products and attractions. Anseong is one of the five major producers of pear. Grapes began to be grown in Anseong in 1901 when the French Father whose Korean name was Gong Anguk arrived and planted the grape saplings he had brought from France. Promoted as the center of culture and art, the city is also home to the Namsadang Troupe, Baudeogi performance, known as Korea's top class entertainment team. Number of ancient fortresses, Buddhist temples and hermitages, stone Buddha images, weathered Buddhist pagodas and stupas, Confucian schools, shrines, scenic lakes and reservoirs are scattered around Anseong. Known as a garden city, it is surrounded by the peaks of mountains with two streams which formed a rich granary and flourished a local culture. In particular, the city has a tradition of distinctive patriotism, as is well shown from the invasion by the Red Turban bandits in 1359, and March 1st independence movement from the Japanese colonial rule in 1919. There were successive demonstrations from March 29 to April 2, 1919 in the market places. Thousands of people even rushed to the County Office and staged a sit-in. Later, the Movement was an armed struggle against the oppression of imperialistic Japan. Though, the struggle could not achieve its desired results, it evoked the strong sense of Independence. The memorial monument is dedicated to this patriotic event.
Namsadang was formed sometime during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) as a group of wayfaring musicians and entertainers. As they traveled, they acquired an entertaining, circus-like edge to their show that continued to wow the crowds. Their highly developed sense of tradition and theatrics and their fame make them the ideal rearguard of modern Samulnori (percussion music performance). The number of members in such troupes ranged from 40 to 100, and each member had their own specialty in singing, dancing and stunts. Their main stages were set up in open market places and empty lots in towns. Their six performances include "Beona nori,'' plate-spinning; "Deotboegi,'' mask dance; "Eorum,'' tightrope walking; "Salpan,'' somersault; "Deolmi,'' puppet show; and "Pungmul nori,'' traditional Korean folk music. Baudeogi was a nickname for Kim Am-deok, an orphan girl who was left abandoned on a rock and found by the Namsadang Troupe in 1847. As she grew older, she joined the performers and soon surpassed the others in skill and talent, becoming the first and the last female in history to lead the Anseong Namsadang troupe. Today, a performance of Namsadang nori is presented in Anseong, every Saturday from April through October. As soon as the music starts, the members enthusiastically and breathlessly begin playing. These players, who have let themselves go into the exciting rhythms, are the Anseong Namsadang Troupe. Your body won't be able to refuse the beat of the exciting traditional performance.Thirty members of the Anseong Municipal Namsadang Baudeogi Pungmul Troupe, and another 20 players will showcase six Namsadang performances for two hours from 6:30 p.m. at the city's Namsadang center. Just an hour away from Seoul, you can escape from the hectic chaos of the city.
Of the most remarkable spot in Anseong is Mirinae, which is one of the regions in Korea where Catholicism took a root. During the persecution in 1801 and 1839, many early followers of the Catholic faith took refuge here. Today, there stands the statue of Korea's first father Kim Daegon by his grave, who martyred in 1846 at the age of 26. The body of St. Andrew Kim Daegeon was transported by a young man named Vincent Lee Minshik of seventeen, in secret and buried here. On the 6th of May in 1984, St. Andrew Kim Daegeon was canonized with other 102 martyrs by Pope John Paul II when he visited Korea. A memorial church was built in 1896, a chapel on July 5, 1925 after Beautification of 79 Korean martyrs and The Most Holy Trinity church on May 27, 1991. Mirinae is abundant of the spirit of the Martyrdom and is sought out by many visitors. To assist in their spiritual pilgrimage, the outdoor stations of the cross, the mountain of Gethsemane and the outdoor fifteen mysteries of the rosary path were added. Today, pilgrim visits of many Catholics and non-Catholics as well continue and in every September, there is a great exaltation gathering here.
Located about 45km east of Seoul, Yangpyong is a town where everyone can feel refreshed with Yongmunsan (1,157meters) offering a grand panorama. It is also where two waters of South Hangang River and North Hangang River conjoins. Of the interesting village is Borigogaemaeul where you can take a glimpse into Korean countryside life in the village themed around 'Borigogae,' a name attached to the harsh and destitute 1960s of Korea. Anxiety over fast food is growing as more people are concerned with health. In a world constantly demanding speed, people are seeking 'slow'. Korea's slow food is made with traditional well-being and healthy products and cooked for a long time with great devotion. Borigogae Village is a typical farm village where you can also have the rewarding experience of harvest and experience genuine taste of traditional Korean food. If you are into well-being life and diet, this is the place to go. Here, adults lose themselves in nostalgia and children get a taste of their parents' childhoods. Adults and children alike become innocent and young. The taste they experienced together will be cherished. There is Yongmunsa Temple with the mystery of a thousand years. The history contained here is more than anyone can even imagine. Visitors just humble themselves by putting their hands together. There is a gingko tree in Yongmunsa that is more famous than the temple itself. Legend has it that the tree grew out of a cane that the last prince of Shilla planted in the ground.