[Image rights: Sébastien Bertrand, CC BY 2.0]
In the city of Seoul, South Korea, there exists a palace known as the Gyeongbok Palace. It was built in 1395, and it is commonly referred to as one of the most beautiful palaces among its counterparts such as ChangDeok palace (east) and GyeongHee palace (west). Another name for GyeongBok palace is “the northern palace” because it is the furthest to the north. Although much of the palace was burned down during the ImJinWaeRan war against Japan, it is still intact and was rebuilt as well.
Korean Folk Village
[Image rights: Wwian, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] and [Image Rights: MCWNIMC U.S. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Korean Folk Village is located in GyeongGi-do [2 hours south of Gyeongbok palace] and has many traditional Korean structures that exemplify the architecture during the Joseon Dynasty. This village also consists of many actors and actresses playing their roles to make the past seem more like a reality. Actors acting as horseback riders, marriages, restaurants, shops, seesaw jumping, tightrope walking, and much more are displayed. The environment of the Korean Folk village will give a sense of what it really feels like to live in the past. Sometimes, there are actors pretending to be beggars asking for food from visitors to the village. Additionally, some actresses will pretend to be a nine-tailed fox (the nine-tailed fox was seen as a spiritual figure that attracts men and takes their kidneys in the old times).
[Image rights: Doug Letterman, CC BY 2.0]
NamSan Mountain is located two hours south of Korean Folk village. The bright green mountain provides a different perspective on the massive city of Seoul. Many of the roadways on the mountain are constructed for convenience. Moreover, this mountain contains many shrines and temples from the Silla dynasty (53 B.C. – AD 935). So, while hiking up the mountain for fresh air, it is convenient to get a glance at the structures that were created nearly two thousand years ago.
[Image rights: Diatherman, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]
Loved by many locals and foreigners, HanCook restaurant is renowned for their 30 different types of Korean buffet. The designs of the restaurant are modern but the foods that are served are traditional. This blend creates an intriguing atmosphere for even authentic Koreans. Moreover, because this restaurant is located in the upper level of the Seoul Tower on NamSan Mountain, you will be able to enjoy the view of the major city of Seoul right beneath your eyes.
[Image Rights: Col Ford and Natasha de Vere, CC BY 2.0]
Myeong-Dong district is located at the heart of the capital of Korea, Seoul. This district is, also, one of the greatest shopping malls according to my friends and family in Korea. Myeong-Dong consists of a great number of shops that one can’t imagine. Back when I was in Korea eating at a restaurant on the third floor, it wasn’t easy to see even a tile on the ground floor. Additionally, festivals and concerts by rising singers are held in the streets of this district as well.
Spicy and Sweet Fried Chicken
[Image rights: KiYong Ahn, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]
Here we are, commonly referred by authentic Koreans as the “Chicken god” because of its mysteriously powerful flavor of addiction. This spicy and sweet fried chicken holds a very high title in the diet of Koreans, because the mingled flavors of the seasoning of sweet and spicy pepper paste makes it so delicious. Moreover, many prefer to eat fried chicken with what they call “somek”, derived from the mix of two words: “soju” (Korean alcohol) and “mekju” (Beer). Somek, as my family describes it, is easier to swallow and softer than the individual alcohols alone. Not surprisingly, since many Koreans love this, a chicken shop would be easily spotted in order to grab a bite.
[Image rights: Cecil Lee, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
HaeUnDae beach, located in Busan, is referred to as the number one beach in the nation for its good environment and for holding many festivals and ceremonies. Moreover, there is a folk square for many different games for the community to enjoy such as: neoldduigi (seesaw jumping), Korean wrestling (similar to sumo wrestling), tug-of-war, and yutnori (a traditional Korean game). HaeUnDae beach also provides a free mat for the sand on the beach shore. The best times for this beach would be the month of June to August.
Carribean Bay (Water Park)
[Image rights: JOOBBY, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] and [Image rights: WhiteWaterWest]
Caribbean Bay, approximately 2 hours and thirty minutes south of Seoul, is Korea’s largest water park and it is visited by many of my family members that currently live in Korea. During the summer time, Caribbean bay opens up the outside waterpark and it is simply just massive. They have upgraded this waterpark since I went nearly 10 years ago (when it first opened). Moreover, the waterpark is more than what it seems like: there are relax rooms for adults that consist of massage capsules and 10 jade beds, a miracle spa, and many different saunas. The wave pools can reach waves of up to 2.4 meters. People around me have talked about it ever since about how it is the “perfect waterpark”. Surprisingly, though, 90% of the swimmers keep their shirts on when they swim; it is just the way Koreans view shirtless as immoral.