Travels in South Korea 2017 – Seoul 서울 (October 5-6)

A view of the Han River from the N Seoul Tower in Seoul, South Korea

Attractions List:

  • Gwanghwamun Gate (광화문)
  • Gwanghwamun Square (광화문광장)
  • Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)
  • National Folk Museum of Korea
  • Cheongwadae (Blue House)
  • Myeongdong (명동)
  • N Seoul Tower
  • Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골한옥마을)

During the Joseon (조선) dynasty (1392-1910), Yi Seong-gye established his capital in Hanyang (modern-day Seoul서울) and brought forth a dynasty that would last more than 500 years; this led to many cultural, scientific, and technological achievements that would define Korean history.

Seoul, today, is home to one-fifth of the country’s population (about 9.8 million) and has remained South Korea’s capital since its founding. Its sprawling metropolis is divided into 25 districts, but it can be visualized as two halves: north and south of the Han River (Hangang). Our guided tour primarily focused on the districts north of the Han River.

We arrived in Seoul on October 5th from Tokyo, Japan. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a Hanatour driver, who took us to the Center Mark hotel. After refreshing ourselves, we explored the city on our own that same evening.

Our guided tour began on October 6th at Gwanghwamun Square (광화문광장) that enshrines a statue of King Sejong the Great, the fourth ruler of the Joseon dynasty and founder of Hangul—the Korean writing system. The Square was the center of the tumultuous history of South Korea; from the March 1st Independence Movement to civil revolution against the Japanese annexation of Korea to celebration of the Candlelight Culture Festival, the Square withstood these changes and represents the Korean spirit of democracy.

Gwanghwamun Gate (광화문), the gateway into Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁), originally built in 1395 (Seoul, South Korea).
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Travels in South Korea 2017 – Overview

Political Map of Republic of Korea [South Korea] (Map from Nations Online Project)

During my visit to South Korea on October 5 to 13, 2017, I had the pleasure of going with my family on a guided tour from Hanatour. We explored Seoul, and then traveled to the western part of Korea and to Jeju Island.

Below is the itinerary that we followed.

  • October 5 to 6: Seoul (서울)
  • October 7: Gongju (공주시) – Daejeon (대전)
  • October 8: Jeongju (전주시) – Jinan (진안군) – Gwangju (광주시)
  • October 9: Boseong (보성군) – Suncheon (순천시) – Yeosu (여수시)
  • October 10: Yeosu (여수시) – Jinju (진주시)
  • October 11 to 13: Jeju Island (제주도)

Before diving into the travel journals, I personally recommend reading the following overview of South Korea’s history.

Xinglong Art by Raichana

“Korean history is quite complex! You can continue reading below the cut, or if you really want to skip ahead, click on the city name that you are interested in reading about.”

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January to April Updates

Since the last update in January, most things have been settled. Returning to the East Coast did mean that I had to adjust to the weather and the work culture. While it was not much different at work (since I just transferred within the same company), it just took me a bit of time to get used to the people and the environment. I connected with people and explored the area, getting to know what is out there. It helped that I had been in this part of the East Coast during my visits to my paternal family in the past, so it was not entirely a new experience.

These past few months I have worked on mini creative projects, including making a pin banner to display my pin collection and drawing personal cards for family and friends. Please see Gallery » Traditional Art » Card Designs for the most recent designs. In addition, I have been continuing to build upon healthy habits while finding time for myself in between work and family matters.

Future Plans

In the upcoming month of May, I will be posting my travel journals for South Korea (2017) on a semi-regular schedule (once to twice a week). Just in time for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! If progress is satisfactory, I will also work on finishing up the remaining travel journals for my trips to China in 2018 and 2019; and Singapore 2019.

Also, in the works, is a major project! After almost three years since the end of the web series, A Gathering of Heroes: Anhu, Taki and I have decided to return with a new story set in the same setting but with xianxia elements and some returning characters. The story will be special in that I had– on whim– commissioned an artist to help with designing two of the major characters; both of whom have been around in a story concept that I had from my younger days. We are currently in the story development phase, so it will probably not be debuted until Winter 2022/Early 2023 (should things go well!).

That is all for now! Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!

Belated Reflection of 2021 & 2022 Goals

My apologies for going MIA. I was in the process of moving across the continent in October 2021, and now, I have more or less settled in with some things still in progress.

2021 was a tumultuous year of changes and challenges. From receiving the Covid-19 Moderna vaccine to handling the rapid, abrupt changes at work, it was all about finding ways to cope and to be safe. I had to learn to adapt to change rapidly and to prepare for the move. This meant sorting out what I did not need, what I could sell, and what I wanted to keep.

Most importantly, I spent more time with family, celebrating small joys and overcoming challenges with them. When things don’t work out as planned, something else will work out in one’s favor.

As for the goals of 2021, I have read 48 books (including light novels and manga), completed CEs, and practiced Chinese regularly. Unfortunately, I was not able to do some writing.

For 2022, I plan on building on and tracking my habits using Habitca and Mossery’s yearly planner.

  1. Complete a sudoku book.
  2. Write a short story about my original characters.
  3. Read 50 books based on the Popsugar challenge.
  4. Exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week.
  5. Journal daily for 30 minutes.
  6. Complete CEs.
  7. Complete a crafting or personal project every month using the materials I already have.
  8. Complete 5 video games over the course of year. Cannot buy until 5 are completed.
  9. Finish 5 books in “to be read” pile.

5 Games That Made Me Who I Am Today

I saw this meme going around Raichana’s Twitter and figured I should participate. After looking over my list, I realized that most of the games I picked are dated in the 1990s-early 2000s.

Golden Sun (Gameboy Advance, Camelot, 2001)

Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age

My most favorite game of all time is Golden Sun. In addition, it is also one of the few games that I played without any guides. Countless hours were spent figuring out the puzzles and speaking to all the non-playable characters (NPCs) as I unraveled the mysteries of alchemy alongside Issac and his friends. When Golden Sun: The Lost Age came out, I immediately played the game from beginning to end, experiencing the story from Felix’s perspective and trying to resolve the loose ends from the previous game. The battle music from both games is quite memorable and occasionally I would listen to the soundtrack for inspiration. Without Golden Sun, I probably would not have developed an interest in solving puzzles or world building.

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Reflection & 2021 Resolutions

Happy 2021

2020 was a year of challenges and changes. It was a test of one’s character and perseverance. For me, it taught me to step back and reflect; to encourage patience when faced with the unknown (at work and at home), and to build new habits to reduce anxiety and stress. From all of this, I learned to change my worldview and to accept that there are things that one cannot control. Thus, one has to make the best of their situation. I developed new habits, such as gardening with my mother and listening to the news every night.

In 2020, I have read 37 books (e-books and paperbacks), studied Chinese on Duolingo regularly, and participated in 2 art challenges (Mosstober October 15th to 31st and Art in the Time of Corona). While I did not do much writing, I helped my father complete our family tree and discovered a few famous ancestors. As for career development, I attended virtually ASCP Annual in November and completed other continuing education courses on a regular basis.

This year I plan to continue building on the same habits and perhaps work on a writing project. It helped that I use Habitica, a productivity app that helps one keep motivated to complete goals by “gamify[ing] [one’s] life.”

  1. Read daily for 15-20 minutes and complete Popsugar 2021 challenge. [37 of 50 books in 2020]
  2. Do 1 continuing education assignment every 2 weeks minimum.
  3. Write something this year.
    1. Complete travel journals for Korea (2017), and China (2018 and 2019).
    2. Write a new story.
  4. Participate in an art project (photography or sketching)– 1 per week or daily challenge.
  5. Practice Chinese Mandarin daily on Duolingo for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Do 1 stress-free activity per week.

How was your 2020? What are some of your goals/resolutions for 2021?