Category: Seoul

Namdaemun Gate

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 528Well hello there! It’s back! After being closed for 5 years due to a fire and reconstruction it has been rebuilt and there was kind of intense security. People watching everywhere! I stepped on grass to get a better angle and they told me to move away.

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Designated on Dec 20, 1962

Sungnyemun, the South Gate of Seoul, was erected in 1398, 7th year of King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, as one of the four main gates of the capital city.

In February 2008, an arsonist set fire to the gate, almost entirely destroying the roof of the gate house, to the nation’s great horror. Repair was planned and carried out for five years, from 2008-2013, during which the city walls to the right and left of the gate were also restored.



When I came to Seoul before, I thought Insadong was quite boring, but maybe that’s because I was there too early, and the shops were mostly closed. Plus it was either a Sunday or Christmas Eve, so that could explain why everything was looking closed.

This time there was a little music concert going on at the start of the main road.

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And cute shops were open. They sell a lot of stuff similar to ArtBox, but more individual and expensive.

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There was also a huge shopping area with an area to decorate at the top and a staircase to spray paint.

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Along the Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul there were tons of lanterns for Buddhas birthday, which was May 17th. The lanterns went up way before and were taken down 100% on the 19th, with some being taken down before.

I can’t say what was going on in the lanterns, as they were all written about in Korean. Some were in trees next to the road, but most were in the stream itself.

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National Museum of Korea

The National Museum of Korea has lot’s of different areas and two entrances. If you go in though the West Gate the first thing you will see is the Snack area, then the Reflecting Pond  with a Pavilion. If you enter though the Main Gate you’ll see a Gateway Pond and then the Reflecting Pond.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 228From the Reflecting Pond you’ll go up flower lined stairs to the Entrance. On the right is the free entrance, and on the left is the entrance to the special exhibits, which are not free. I went in the free entrance to the main part of the Museum.

The first floor (ground floor) covers prehistory and ancient history, as well as medieval and early modern history.  There is also a Buddhist Preceptor Wallang and Ten Story Pagoda. Below are photos from prehistory and ancient history. (1) the earliest cave paintings found in Korea, in Ulsan, which shows what people ate and how they caught it; (2) a boat dating to 6,000 BC; (3) shells and rocks with faces; (4) stone daggers from the Bronze Age and was only possessed by a privileged minority and served as symbolic or ritual objects; (4) Bronze Knife-shaped Coins with the Chinese character ‘Ming’ written on the front; (5) the Buddhist Preceptor; (6) tombs in the shape of eggs; (7) and the Ten Story Pagoda.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 232Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 237 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 242 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 245 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 250 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 259 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 278Next are photos from Medieval and Early Modern History. (1) a roof statue of a beasts head; (2) Bundles of Celadon Vessels Loaded on a Cargo Boat; (3) A game board to teach girls how to be proper; (4) a map of Beijing; and (5) a map of the body for Acupuncture.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 283 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 287 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 300 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 302 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 304Next are Calligraphy and Paintings on the second floor.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 309 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 315And then donated works. There are 9 different galleries for people (or families) and one room for people who donated one item (individual donations). (1) A ‘lion’ like no other; and (2) A mold for a roof tile.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 324 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 332On the final and third floor there are sculptures and crafts, starting with Buddhist Sculptures and moving into vases.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 341 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 349 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 364Lastly is Asian Art with art from: India and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, China, Sinan Shipwreck, and Japan. (1)  An Elephant God Statue from India; (2) A horse prepared for war which from afar I thought was a unicorn Pegasus…from China;(3) masks from Japan for theater.

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I’m a bit confused by the War Memorial’s Wedding Hall, but it seemed popular enough. Doesn’t solve my confusion, but I guess Koreans are into having weddings in war memorials…?

Upon entering from the left of the front entrance, there is a list of names of people who died in the Korean War with ‘Our Nation Honors Men Her Sons and Daughters Who Answered The Call To Defend A Country They Never Knew And A People They Never Met’ which is also on The Monument of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 116Upon entering though the main doors, there are candles lit and 2 books: one of UN deaths and one of Republic of Korea deaths with more carvings of ‘We honor those fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for the country’, ‘They are the true heroes of the Republic of Korea who gave their lives for the peace of the homeland’ and, ‘the noble sacrificed of heroes became the eternal light that protects the Republic of Korea’. Next is a beautiful room with what looks like a painting of hay on top of the wall, and a big bowl at the bottom overflowing with water.

Next you go downstairs and there is the War History Room(s) with paintings and artifacts from many different Korean Wars.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 144 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 149 Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 171One on the 2nd floor, there are many dioramas from different wars, including the Vietnam War.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 176Next I went up to the 3rd floor, where there is a statue showing ‘The Republic of Korea Armed Forces Serving the People’.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 182From between the second and third floors you can see exhibits of planes, helicopters and parachutes. There is also an area to get close to and touch the planes, tanks, guns and such.

Caribbean Bay + DMZ + Seoul 195 I missed all the videos (I either didn’t want to wait or they were not running on a Saturday Holiday Weekend). Out the main entrance there is a huge statue with many soldier statues around it.

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To the left (when you face the museum) there is the Statue of Brothers which is a hut with two men embracing in Army uniforms on the top.

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Caribbean Bay

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Long weekend for Buddha’s Birthday so a friend and I went up to Everland’s water park–Caribbean Bay! You can take a bus via Pusan Tours to Everland and swap the ticket for a Caribbean Bay ticket (but you need your guide with the ticket receipt). Once they start selling more tickets for Caribbean Bay I’m sure you’ll be able to buy them from Pusan Tours too.

The inside part of Caribbean Bay opens at 9:30 and is open year round but the outside part (which opened when I went–MAY 17th!) opens at 11. Not all the rides were open, some open June 1st, but I’m not sure if we would have had time for all that!

Overall, you have to take off all jewelry (or anything that can fall off) and earrings–for your safety which I call b.s. because they just don’t want to have to find your necklace at the bottom of a pool. Many people wear life vests, but have them not buckled, so its competently a fashion statement. 90% of the water is not deep enough for adults to drown in (I could stand everywhere and I’m only 5’3″).

You can put money onto a wrist band to pay for things, but I don’t suggest doing that because the line for a refund is HUGE around the time people start leaving (and you don’t wanna spend half a day there, right?). What we did was take some money and put it in a mini locker with shoes, jewelry and shorts so we could access it easier than going back to the big lockers.

We started heading for the Wild River area right away but got detoured in Fortress by the Surfing Ride! Some people are basically professionals (at the ride–I don’t think they’d be good at a real beach). They brought their own bogy boards, wetsuits (yep wetsuits at a water park), hats, sunglasses, Roxy gear, Volcom gear, etc. and were in the line almost the whole time. We went for our first ride and last and saw the same people. There are many ways to fail at this ride. You can go left or right and get Lazy River’d–aka fall into another ride called Lazy River which goes around Fortress–or you can do what I did every time and get pushed over a bump and into a pool. I guess I was too light because the same thing happened to the little kids. Still fun.

Next we went to Wild Blaster which is a two person raft ride which was tons of fun! Lots of tubes to go though and splashing water.

Next we tried for Aqua Loop but if you have any jewelry you can go…so I couldn’t. My friend went and said it was basically water up your nose and a wedgie.

Next we tried to find food…but all the lines and restaurants were super packed and not veggie friendly. Lots of meat on a stick. I did get something similar to a snow cone though, with real fruit! Well, syrup and real fruit. They had churros which were dry and seemed like something new that year.

Next was Tower Boomerang Go and Tower Raft. They are right next to one another and Boomerang will probably have the longer line as it is just a massive drop. I felt my but in the air on this ride. While in line you can watch people and that is half the fun. Looks of fear and screaming…from grown men while their children laugh is always good. Raft had lots of turns and no big drops  but I went more than 50% up the curved walls which was terrifying. Screamed like a little girl (and not little girls on rides because they just laugh).

Next we went to the Wave Pool, where there is a green part where no one is allowed to stand EVER. If you don’t have a life vest you can’t be on the far side, even though with waves you just go up and down….the green part is the crash area which is the only ‘danger’. I still had fun. My friend who was on a swim club in school was pretty pissed though. There are a few pirate ships in the area and I got yelled up for going up it but then when the lifeguard saw my face he let me go…very strange.

We then went inside and did the Quick Ride which wasn’t that quick compared to the other rides. Maybe it’s quick because of the wait if you want a raft. For going without a raft there is a huge wait, but waiting for a solo or double raft was not too long and the wait at the top was not too long either. Fun ride, beautiful inside just because of the run shining though the tube. That’s on the 5th floor. The floors inside are pretty confusing. It’s all about 1/2 stair cases.

The 3rd floor is the best way to get on the Lazy River (depending on time, I’m sure). Lots of empty rafts are there and being collected so you can grab one and jump on going outside and back in. I’d say do two rounds and ignore the kids splashing and be lazyyyyy. It’s hard. But at some point you’ve gotta give up and stop saying ‘don’t push me!’

Their spa is pretty nice with 2 hot rooms and a hot pool.

Seeing a lot of these sorts of lists, so I thought I’d make them. Since the blog only started in September on blogger and moved to wordpress in November, I thought it fitting to do only the top 5.

1) International Gift and Household Fair

2) Everland: Christmas Fantasy

3) Gwangju

4) Seoul’s 5 Palaces

5) Naejangsan National Park


Seoul Overview

I did A LOT in Seoul. And I mean a lot. I was there for all of Sunday and most of Monday and even on Wednesday my feet still hurt from muscles I pulled in both of them with all the walking I did. According to my phone I walked over 50km. I think it’s wrong, then I move my foot the wrong way…and I’m not sure. Anyway, I didn’t want to do one MASSIVE post, so see below for the compartmentalized posts:

The 5 Palaces

Seoul Museum of History

Seoul Museum of Art: Tim Burton

North Seoul Tower

Jongmyo Shrine and Bongeunsa

Traditional Buildings

The Inbetweens of tourist attractions and the smaller attractions

I can’t wait to go back and see the things I didn’t get to and go back to the things I loved during a different time of the year or a different time of day. Maybe I won’t near lose a finger or toe to frostbite then!

More Seoul!

Walking around I saw the Institute of Traditional Korean food–I must try this place out next time I come up if they are open on weekends! I saw nearly everything Seoul has to offer and there are only a few places I want to go to again so this is close to the top of my list!

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I also found Insa-dong, which was not as exciting as I thought it would be.

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I found Myeong-dong to me much more exciting for shopping (and probably getting robbed as there are so many people–at least there were 2 days before Christmas!)

Seoul 2 038I also walked past Jongno Tower which is a beautiful display of modern architecture.

Everland and Seoul 454Oh hey look–the US embassy has a billion air conditioners and a billion guards.

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Outside of the Seoul Museum of History was this display…not sure what it is for but was pretty sad looking.

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I walked down Jeongdong-gil, which was a street that was recommended for a stroll.

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Seoul set up ice skating in the City Hall area.

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There was also a parade of red and green balloons.

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The ‘R’ building?

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A walk down Cheonggyecheon-ro river is not as beautiful as I expected, forgetting that it is winter.

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Another interesting building. I couldn’t decide if it was a letter or not and, if so, if it was an M or N or…

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Cheonggye Plaza

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Crossing Banpodaegyo Bridge

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Spaceship building!

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And some more odd buildings in the Lotte Duty Free-COEX-7 Luck Casino area

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And, of course, required Dokdo signs.

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There were some beautiful buildings that did not fit into the other posts of palaces or shrines, so I present them here. There is another post for more modern architecture and buildings.

A traditional tower behind Jongno Tower.

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Bosingak which is a bell tower.

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Heunginjimun (Dongdaemun) gate, which is the second largest gate in Seoul and the largest gate that was part of the original city wall.

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Bukchon Hanok Village, a traditional village with bits of new thrown in.

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There were other buildings that I could not find a name for but were beautiful just the same.

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