A CITY OF TWELVE MILLION: THE PICTURES
My Seoul Music Playlist
MY VIDEO LOGS & JOURNAL
While Korea is rarely found on top travel destination lists its capital city Seoul has gotten some interest recently. One example is reality shows such as 2014's Top Model shooting half their season there. Still, most Westerners don't have it at the top of the list. It is this level of relative obscurity that in my opinion shines. As a westerner it delivers the sense of discovery and challenge that many search for in a travel experience. Seoul, its capital city is the one place that has international recognition and for good reason. With a city proper population that exceeds 10.5 million it beats Tokyo's city proper population by over 1 million people.
For better or worse the city sits just south of the DMZ or demilitarized zone between South and North Korea. This divided country has never actually ceased its state of war but is actually classified in a state of armistice since 1950. This means theoretically, war could resume at an time. Consequently, it is the only place in the world that your family is issued gas masks upon your arrival. On the surface there is no threat but for those who aware of the geopolitics it can be unnerving. By no way am trying to dissuade people from visiting but it is an important part of the living history of the country that any intrepid traveler should be aware of.
With that said one of the top attractions of coming to South Korea is visiting the DMZ with escort from Republic of Korea and U.S. military forces. Unfortunately, we haven't had the opportunity due to the MERS virus which has caused the DMZ to be shut down as well as heightened tensions between the North and South in AUG15.
Besides the DMZ the city of Seoul boasts one of the world's largest urban expanses featuring thousands of things to keep you busy and immersed in a intriguing and exciting culture. Lets start with the drinking.
Seoul Nightlife & Drinking Culture
Drinking and nightlife are a distinct centerpiece of modern Korea and permeate much of its cultural fabric. In Seoul you can find endless bars which are open until 4am and many more that will stay open till 4am so long as they have a crowd of drinking customers. In addition, Korea features karaoke like you have never seen it. To give you an idea of what I am talking about karaoke booths can be found in public trains, hotels, and entire karaoke bars.
Another distinct characteristic of Korean drinking culture is of course its food. Unlike the United States, in Korea when you go out for a hard night of drinking it will almost always be accompanied by food. The first time we went out to drink with Koreans we started ordering drinks without any food which was completely foreign to them. So wether its sea snake, pork, beef, or good old mandu (dumplings) the cuisine will always complement the night.
Temples & Local Markets
Finally, Seoul has some of Korea's most impressive temples including the Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jogyesa Temple located directly in the city. Visiting temples is one of the most renowned and important parts of experiencing many Asian countries. It is fascinating to see a society grounded with a dynamic and different perspective than the western one we are familiar with.