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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