Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, 서울, is the capital of South Korea.  Officially it is the Seoul Special Metropolitan City and home to over 10 million people.

The Seoul metro area has 25,6 million people.  About twice the entire Czech population lives just in Seoul!  It's the largest city on the Korean Peninsula.

Seoul sits on the Han River and was founded over 2,000 years ago in 18 BC.  The city eventually became the capital during the Joseon Dynasty in 1897.  When Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910 the city was renamed Gyeongseong until following the city's liberation at the end of WWII.

Seoul was destroyed after the Korean War.  Efforts were put in to building a modern city and today Seoul is home to around 20% of the population.

The Seoul Olympic Stadium opened in 1984.  It was the main stadium used for the 1986 Asian Games and the '88 Olympics.

Sangam Stadium is the Seoul World Cup Stadium and opened in 2001.  The stadium was designed to resemble a traditional Korean kite.  It is the second largest stadium in Korea after the Olympic Stadium but it is the largest football-only stadium in Asia.

Seoul Olympic Park is the city's largest park and it too was built for the '88 Olympics.  It was interesting to see flags flying for countries which participated in the '88 games but no longer exist like Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union.  The World Peace Gate celebrates the spirit of the Olympic Games and under the gate is an eternal flame.

The old city hall building was built in 1925.  In 2008 it became the Seoul Metropolitan Library when the new city hall building was built behind it.

Myeongdong Cathedral, officially the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception, was completed in 1898.  It is the largest Catholic church in the country.

Lotte World is the world's largest indoor amusement park.

Lotte World Tower opened in April 2017. At 554,4 metres (1,819 feet) it is the 5th tallest building in the world.  There are great views of the city on the 117th and 118th floors.

DDP is the Dongdaemun Design Plaza and it is located in the fashion district.  It opened in 2014.

The Dongdaemun Gate, officially the Heunginjimun Gate, was built in 1396, remodelled in 1453 and rebuilt in 1869.

The Namdaemun Gate, officially the Sungnyemun Gate, is the largest of the eight stone castle gates in the city.  It was first built in 1398 and rebuilt in 1447.  The gate was destroyed in a fire in 2008 and was reopened in 2013.  The gate is listed as Korea's National Treasure #1.

Namdaemun Market is open 24-hours and it is the oldest and largest traditional market in the city.  It dates back to 1414.

Mt. Namsan is 262 metres (860 feet) tall and is home to Namsan Park which has nice views of the city.  On top is the N Seoul Tower.  It was built in 1971 as the country's first general radio wave tower.  It is 236 metres (774 feet) tall.

The National Theatre of Korea was the first nationally managed theatre in Asia.  It opened in 1950 and hosts the National Drama Company, the National Dance Company, the National Orchestra Company, and the National Youth Theatre.

The Blue House is the executive office and the official residence of the South Korean president.

The 12.23 Fountain honours Admiral Yi Sunshin and the 23 battles he fought using 12 warships.

The Sejong Centre for the Performing Arts opened in 1978.  It is the largest arts and cultural complex in Seoul and is home to the biggest pipe organ in Asia.

King Sejong was the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty who reigned from 1418 to 1450 and the man who created the Korean alphabet.

There are 115 museums in Seoul.  The National Hangeul Museum opened in 2014.  The museum is dedicated to Korean orthography and takes up four floors.

The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History opened in 2012.  There are four permanent exhibition halls, plus a children's museum covering the 19th century to the present.

Seoul's Gangnam District is the third largest and fourth most populated.  This is the posh part of town and is considered the Beverly Hills of Korea.

The War Memorial of Korea was opened in 1994.  The museum used to be the South Korean Infantry Headquarters and has over 10,000 items on display.

Gyeongbokgug Palace was built in 1395.  It is the largest of the city's five grand palaces and was the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty.  People wearing traditional Korean costumes get free entry to the palace but the kicker is that the rental fee is more expensive than the entry ticket.

However, there were still lots of people in national dress and many kids wanted to take photos with us and try to speak English. I felt like a K-pop star with groupies.

There is so much to see and do here that in a few days we were only able to scratch the surface.  I can't wait to come back.

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