Thursday, November 11, 2010

Seoul in pictures

I could live in most city in the world. I’m a young(ish) American citizen with no debt, a college degree, and an IQ well over 75 (the last two statements are not mutually exclusive). If I wanted to, I could move to London, Tokyo, or New York. I’m lucky that way. I don’t take any particular credit for this feat, after all, I could have just as easily been born in an impoverished village in Namibia, where I wouldn’t have had so many choices (actually, for that to have happened, it would have required my parents to move to Namibia for reasons unknown before I was born, but you catch my drift). For now, I’ve opted against London, Tokyo, New York, and Namibia and chosen to live in Korea, specifically Seoul.

Over the years, I’ve given Korea quite a bit of shit, in this space and otherwise. With Fan Death, dog soup, Dokdo, shiny suits, Konglish T-shirts, an evil twin to the north, love hotels, crazy nationalism, visors, sandals with socks, and couple shirts, Korea is a comedy well that won’t soon run dry. However, tonight, I’m here to praise my adopted home, specifically my adopted hometown of Seoul.

Korea in general and Seoul specifically make for an awesome vacation destination, yet very few people come here for that purpose. Is it the distance? Sure, that plays in. Then again, nearby Japan and China have no trouble drawing American and European tourists. I think a big portion of the problem, as mentioned by Michael Breen in an op-ed piece last week, is that (South) Korea shares a name with that other Korea. Whenever those crackpots are in the news, it brings down the value of the whole neighborhood. It makes South Korea sound dangerous. It isn’t. Avoiding Seoul out of fear of the North is like avoiding New York out of fear of hurricanes. For the record, two people that I know (in over 3 years) have come to Seoul on vacation, the Old Man and my buddy Wiley. Both enjoyed it enough that both are planning trips here in 2011. You should too. Here’s a few pictures of my Seoul from the last few years.

As always, click on the pics to enlarge.


Inghwansan Pavilion

Downtown Skyline from Inghwansan

Downtown skyline from Samcheong-dong

Gangnam skyline

International trade towers from Jamsil Stadium

International trade towers and Coex (site of the current G20 summit)

Seoul isn't just new, flashy buildings of course. An awful lot of it looks like this:

Concrete Jungle

Yeungdangpo-Gu from the 63 Building

Nowon-gu from Buram Mountain

Hanam-dong from Itaewon

Cheongye Stream - a cool twist on the concrete jungle theme. This stream used to be covered by a freeway, now it's essentially a miles-long park through downtown. Here, they left the supports of the old freeway to remind people what this stream used to be.

Nature/Green Space

Bukhan Mountain (I think. Don?) Seoul is surrounded by mountains on all sides, and has a few within the city itself.

Namsan Tower, from Nam Mountain

Pavilion in Children's Grand Park, one of Seoul's many large parks

Peak of Bukhan Mountain, Seoul's tallest

Cheongye Stream, downtown Seoul

Banpo Bridge and its fountain on the Han River

Street view of the cityscape

Traditional Hanok houses in Samcheong-dong, near downtown Seoul

Tons of neon, Suyu station area in north Seoul

One of my favorite modern buildings, downtown Seoul

Whoops, edit. It's come to my attention that this is,in fact, Ilsan, which is outside the Seoul city limits. My bad.

Gangnam skyline from the street

Gwanghwamun, the gate of Gyeongbuk Palace, Seoul's largest

World Cup, screens set up on Daehangno, east-central Seoul

Gyeongbuk Palace, downtown. I took this picture with a ghetto camera phone way back in October 2006, and I still dig it.

Seoul isn't Paris. I'm not trying to pretend it is. However, as you can see, it is a Great City. If I didn't love it, I would have left it a long time ago. Come check it out.


Kevin B. said...

Your "bright lights of Hongdae" are actually Ilsan. I recognize the Bali Style norae bang when I see it.

Paul said...

So, I think you have to discount me a little since I am the old man. Enjoyed the photos and plan to swim more at the old Olympic pool next time. Does the mountain have weekday potential?

Nyasha said...

I don't blame you for even opting out my city (London), Seoul is so much better in comparison. The prices (of most things), the safety and the atmosphere of the place mixed with traditional and modern aspects.

I've also made a list of three things that London should adapt from Seoul in order to improve. I wonder if you can check it out and tell me what you think: