Seoul - South Korean Metropolis Fever
Seoul or not Seoul, that is the question. There are not many people who are immediately enthralled by the futuristic skyscrapers and the penetrating hectic. However, if you are open-minded about this extraordinary city with its busy streets, trendy neighborhoods and historic temples, you will experience an incomparable big city adventure.
Geography - Populous Metropolis by the Hangang
Seoul is the capital of South Korea and one of the most populous cities in the world. With a total of 23.8 million inhabitants and its huge satellite towns, such as Incheon, Suwon, Goyan and Seongnam, the metropolitan area around Seoul (Sudogwon) is the second largest agglomeration in the world, right after Tokyo. The megacity lies in the north-western part of the country, close to the North Korean border as well as to the Yellow Sea and is traversed by the lower course of the Han River (Hangang). There are several islands in the river, of which Yeouido is the most important one. Furthermore, there are several mountains like the Bukhansan, the Gwanaksan and the Namsan that surround the metropolis. The latter rises about 265 meters into the sky, right in the middle of this urban jungle. The climate is generally temperate, but with drastic seasonal variations. While the climate is extremely warm and humid in the summer, winter time brings very cold temperatures and arid air along.
Culture - Past and Modernity
Seoul is the financial, cultural and educational center of South Korea. The megacity, which goes back all the way to the year 18 BC, has been the capital of several kingdoms and dynasties over the course of its existence, and all of them left their mark on the metropolis. There are many tombs, fortifications, temples as well as fortresses that characterize the city center. Especially the Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1910) enriched the city's cultural attractions with its pompous royal palaces. Today, the five palaces of this dynasty (Changgyeonggung, Changdeokgung, Gyeonghuigung, Deoksugung and Gyeongbokgung) belong to the UNESCO World Heritage. However, the Japanese colonial rule and the Korean War left their mark on the city as well. The latter almost completely destroyed Seoul and the following reconstructions measures changed the cityscape and skyline dramatically. The South Korean capital became much more modern with the new skyscrapers and futuristic towers, such as the N Seoul Tower, the Tower Palace or the Three International Finance Centre. This modern profile, mixed together with the historical buildings of the different royal eras, gives this metropolis its outstanding atmosphere.
Experience - Gangnam Style
Finance and business streets, shopping malls, diverse stores and vibrant markets: Seoul is a paradise for every shopping queen. Especially the Dongdaemun market at the eastern gate enjoys great popularity. It is the biggest market in all of Korea and spread over 10 blocks. It offers household goods, clothing, furniture and electronic equipment, thus, basically everything you could wish for. Also, the Namdaemun Market at the southern gate is a popular attraction. The most important neighborhoods concerning nightlife and party are Hongdae and Gangnam. The latter is the most wealthy neighborhood in Seoul, as well as in the whole country. It earned international fame through the song Gangnam Style by South Korean rapper Psy in 2012, which resulted in Seoul becoming a subject of popular culture.
Activities - Sightseeing and Hiking on the Gwanaksan
With its diverse offers on sightseeing, shopping and nightlife, there is no such thing as boredom in Seoul. If you are looking for a little serenity to take some time off from the excitement, the hectic and the liveliness of the city center, you are going to find it in the parks and the surrounding mountains, the recreational areas of the city. The latter offer several hiking trails, which provide a welcome change to hiking enthusiasts on their trips around the Gwanaksan and the Namsan.
The Incheon International Airport lies about 50 kilometers outside the city center. Along with the airports in Hong Kong and Singapore, it is one of the main transportation centers for East Asia and, therefore, the first contact point for travelers to Seoul. Especially between spring and autumn, the metropolis is a popular travel destination. The moderate temperatures and sunny weather guarantee a pleasant stay.
Seoul is an excellent choice for enthusiasts of Asian cultures, party-goers, shopping queens, as well as those who are looking for new trends. The mix of shopping malls, temples, party locations and the trendy pop culture leaves every city tourist happy and stunned.