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South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Gahoe-dong, 계동길 37
On my first evening back in Seoul, on my first visit in almost twenty years, I could hardly believe I was in the middle of a metropolitan area of over twenty million people. I was staying in the Buk-chon neighborhood, in a 'hanok'--one of the...
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Jongno 5(o)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Anyone who's been to Seoul knows how coffee-crazed South Korea's capital is: There are well over 200 Starbucks locations in Seoul alone! But this independent coffee shop, a few blocks down from the city's medieval East Gate, takes it to a whole...
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161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Originally built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and greatest of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. Burned down during the Japanese invasion of 1592, it was reconstructed in 1867. Today, the palace grounds, filled with lotus ponds,...
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137 Seobinggo-ro, Seobinggo-dong, Yongsan-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
The National Museum of Korea is the largest museum in Korea and houses a comprehensive collection of Korean cultural artifacts that tell the story of Korea’s fascinating history, from ancient days to the modern era. There’s also the Children’s...
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Seoul, South Korea
Seoul has to be Asia's most caffeinated mega-city. There is plenty of tea to be had, but coffee rules in Korea's capital. Along with an abundance of multi-storied Starbucks, every street seems to have sprouted a home-grown café: from the...
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99 Sejong-daero, Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
While in Seoul, stop by Daehanmun Gate at Deoksugung Palace, where you can see semi-daily changing of the guard ceremonies.
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Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Myeongdong is a dizzying shopping mecca where every major Korean cosmetic and fashion brand has a store—or several. The Korea Tourism Organization estimates that more than 1 million visitors pass through the area every day. Anchored by the...
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Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
"Oh-deng" is a street-food classic found on the streets of Seoul. It's kind of hard to describe: formed crab-cakes, or white fish sausage (sounds weird, tastes great!). Late one night in Seoul's Myongdong district (think Times Square meets the...
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55 Ujeongguk-ro, Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A window-display near the Jogye-sa temple in central Seoul...now, THAT's a paper lantern! Buddhist temples were not allowed in Seoul during the years of the Joseon (Yi) dynasty (1392-1910); the new rulers were suspicious of clerical involvement in...
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Earlier in the evening, this spot in Gwanghwamun Plaza was full of families, children playing in the fountains beneath the statue of 16th-c. Admiral Yi Sun-shin. After dinner, with the kids gone, I got a moment of calm. For decades, this statue...
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Cheonggyecheon, Jongno 5(o).6(yuk)ga-dong, Seoul
Chong-gye-cheon stream and park is a several-miles-long ribbon of pedestrian tranquility in the heart of Seoul. For decades, an elevated expressway ran through the heart of Seoul. The air pollution and congestion made people forget that a stream...
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Samseong 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Across the street from Asia's largest underground mall, Bong-eun-sa temple still functions as one of Seoul's largest and oldest Buddhist temples. Under the paper lanterns, ritual continues, a counterpoint to the the wired and wifi frenzy in the...
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Changdeokgung-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Amidst the almost hypnotic repetition of pattern and color, I spent an afternoon 'lost' in the colonnades of Changdeok-gung Palace. Focusing my vision on architecture in a historical context far removed from my everyday life--one of my favorite...
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Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
While living in Seoul, exploring was something I would often do. I would ride the subways and pick a random stop, get off then walk as far as I could. In my opinion there is no better way to gather a sense of place in a foreign land. One area I...
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29-4 Bukchon-ro 6-gil, Gye-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
In a metropolitan area of 20 million people, finding an oasis is a must for keeping your sanity. Seoul's Bukchon neighborhood still has a plentiful supply of traditional courtyard gardens—many of the "hanok" (traditional houses) have been opened...
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Changdeokgung-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Covering 78 acres of hilly forest in the middle of Seoul, the Huweon, or "Rear Garden" of Changdeok-gung Palace is better known by the city's millions as Biweon, or "The Secret Garden." Once exclusively for the royal family, today it's a favorite...
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175 Sejong-daero, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The open plaza area in front of the Sejong Cultural Center was a frequent visiting spot for me when I lived in Seoul. In the summer months the cool water was a relaxing spot to wet your feet and watch children running through the musically...
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Euljiro 6(yuk)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Dongdaemun, the old East Gate of Seoul, has been the site of a market for generations. Today, the double-roofed stone arch no longer marks entry into the city, but the capital's residents still come here to haggle over everything from shoes to...
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21 Cheonho-daero 4-gil, Sinseol-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul's Folk Flea Market is a place where you can buy anything, I mean anything! This scary contraption looks like an invention of a comic book super-villain, but for the small price of 5 dollars you could be tightening those crow's feet and...
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21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Namchang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Among the biggest and most chaotic markets in Korea, Seoul's Namdaemun Market is the capital's oldest, dating to the 1400s. Today you can find ANYthing here, if you're willing to brave the crowded alleyways tucked in behind skyscrapers:...
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161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
I have to admit, I am a bit of a snob when it comes to being called a "tourist". I prefer "global citizen", "traveler", or "cultured", mostly for the sake of feeding my own ego. Though while at Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, looking at fresh cherry...
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161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
My wife was flying to join me in Korea. Due to weather conditions in San Francisco, she missed her connecting flight. (The airline was less than helpful; when my wife finally got to talk to a ticketing agent after standing in line for an hour, the...
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18 Insadong 4-gil, Nakwon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
On a sidewalk in Seoul's Insa-dong district, a husband-and-wife team demonstrate the traditional way to make "tteok," chewy-sticky rice-cakes. Pounding the sweet rice in the giant stone mortar with a wooden pestle turns it into a flour which is...
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78 Namdaemun-ro, Myeongdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
In the Korean capital's Myeongdong district, you're not limited to 'Seoul-food;' you can also taste distinctive dishes from Jeonju city, in the country's fertile Southwest. Go to "Go-gung" (pronounce: goh-goong) restaurant. The restaurant's...
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Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
This religious site is within a quarter mile of the popular Gyeongbuk Palace and is worth a visit. The courtyard in front of this wall of buddhas is shaded by bamboo. The atmosphere is extremely peaceful unlike the busy streets just outside this...
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60-16 Itaewon-ro 55-gil, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A great way to spend an afternoon in Seoul: a good book and the genius of sculptor Louise Bourgeois at the Leeum Museum. A gentleman relaxes on ‘Eye Benches,’ while 'Maman' stands guard. It’s in Itaewon that Samsung planted the Leeum Contemporary...
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Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tucked away in the heart of downtown Seoul is the quaint Insadong district, where a Korea of yore comes to life in the form of traditional artists and musicians, shops selling Korean crafts and souvenirs, and street performers dressed in native...
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1 Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Current tensions require close monitoring, but Cheong Wa Dae is open for visitors. From its mountainside overlooking central Seoul, "The Blue House" is the official residence of the South Korean president, and if you apply weeks in advance with...
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Gugi-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Clear your mind with an overnight session at Geumsunsa Temple, where you’ll welcome the dawn with 108 yogic bows. On a hill in central Seoul, the grounds are a welcome escape from the city’s urban center. geumsunsa.org. This appeared in the...