Seoul-Incheon, South Korea: Old Meets New Part 2
Korean culture has amazed and attracted people to visit the country. This has since part of my travel list, since it is not far away from my home country the Philippines, so I embarked in a journey into the South Korean metropolis. There I learned a lot about Korean history and the nation who are obviously proud of their heritage and tradition, which has been threatened several times in history.
Seoul is considered the world’s second largest metropolis. It is a quite amazing that this city is a reminder of the South Korean nation courage and perseverance to turn their country into one of the most richest countries in the world after being significantly destroyed during the Japanese occupation of World War 2 and the subsequent Korean civil war, which cut deeply between the North and South Korea.
With regards to tourism, Seoul is among the top ten most visited city in the world and has become a role model of other Asian cities to become as progressive as Seoul is today – a leading and rising global city, not just in tourism and business but as well as maintenance of a nation’s culture and heritage.
This is the part 2 of my blogpost of my Korean adventure. See the various places I have visited in my short stay in the Korean metropolis.
This square is found in the middle of the Korean city with a beautiful view of the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Bukaksan Mountain. There is a waterway flowing underground water along the square.
This is where the statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin is found. There is bronze statue which stands firmly with a sword in the right hand symbolizing the admiral’s patriotism to the Korean nation.
The statue of Sejong the Great is located nearby. Sejong the Great was a king of the Joseon Dynasty who reinforced Confucian policies and created the Korean alphabet Hangul.
Seoul City Hall
This building is the seat of the Korean capital’s administrative affairs. It is located in front of the Seoul Plaza, which is a major park for both tourists and locals. The older building is currently used as the library and the modern city hall is located at the back, which had been in used after the Japanese occupation.
This walled compound is one of the five great palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty until the Japanese occupation in the 20th century, when significant portions of the area were destroyed. This centrally-located palace is unique because of its western-style garden and fountain. The palace which was used as the residence of Korean monarchs provides a contrast to the modern background of tall buildings and the adjacent beautiful Seoul City Hall.
Yongsandong Yongsan Park
This former golf course of the US army is now a big grass field used recreational activities for locals and tourists. The national museum is also located in the area.
National Hangeul Museum
This museum gives importance to Korean orthography, the Hangeul as a crucial tool in Korean language. The Korean alphabet used both by North Korea and South Korea has been used since the 15th century by the Joseon Dynasty. The alphabet was created to help the common Korean people to write during the time when only Korean aristocrats could write Chinese characters or Hanja, which was considered at that time the only legitimate writing system.
Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho Park
As the President of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai, China; Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho had fought to the Korean independence against Japanese occupation. In addition to this Dosan have reminded Koreans to have good character, worthy of being recognized as an independent nation. A park has been dedicated to this man, who has a strong influence to the Korean society even nowadays.
Seoul Forest Park
Being the third largest park in the Korean capital, various developments have been invested in the recent years to the ancient royal hunting grounds for kings and military inspection facility. There are many attractions in the area. One of these is the Cultural Art Park, which showcases family recreational areas and botanical gardens.
The Royal Tombs of Joseon Dynasty
This tombs are one of the hundreds tombs scattered around the Korean capital. These tombs reflect classical Korean style and architecture. The ancient royal members of the dynasty that lasted for 600 years reflect the Confucianism influence to the Korean society. The area is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 to aid protecting world culture and natural heritage.
This is Seoul’s main finance and investment banking district along the riverbanks of the Han River. There is also a park in the middle of the district, which provides a good view of the modern Korean landscape.
In the middle of the park is an ancient war aircraft, which provides a reminder of the division of the Korean peninsula into the socialist-totalitarian North Korea and the democratic South Korea.
This is main residence and the largest royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty built in the 13th century. The palace was burned and destroyed by the Japanese during the World War 2 but the entire walled palace complex serving as a symbol of Korean national sovereignty, has been restored since then to its original state. The National Palace Museum of Korea is located within its premises. In addition, Mount Bugak provides a magnificent backdrop of the palace.
Namsan Seoul Tower
This tower is the highest point in Seoul and currently used for communication, television broadcasting and observation. This has become the modern symbol of the Korean capital. Interestingly, the tower changes its lights as a reminder of how polluted air has been in the city. Green indicates a good sign.
My short stay in Seoul has been short and insufficient. I know I could still learn more about Korea. I know it has something more to offer, asides its temples and palaces. For me, my vacation has left me an impression of the contrast set by Seoul as the Korean capital – the center of Korean culture and at the same time, the hub of Korean progress and development. One could easily see this contrast by walking along the busy streets of the city. Personally, this unique blend would draw me back to Seoul in the future certainly.