Seoul: The Big City

What started as just a plan to write three entries about Korea just dragged on too long. But here it is, the last one!

Is anyone surprised that the last one is Seoul? Of course it is.

To be honest, I don’t really like Seoul that much as a city. It doesn’t have a lot of super awesome sightseeing spots and for the most part it’s not that visually impressive either. As the biggest city in Korea it really does embody the spirit of Korean cities by being super big and grey.

The best thing about Korean palaces is that they’re colourful.

The main sightsee and touristy areas are colourful enough. The palaces are one of the go-to places for all tourists, and they’re nice to check out. Seoul has a bunch of palace buildings and I’ve been to most, if not all, of them, and for sure the best one is Gyeongbokgung, the palace pictured above.

It’s the biggest palace and as a result it’s the most grand. The one next to it, Changdeokgung is ok too. The palace garden they have in there is really awesome so I can really recommend that. Other than these two though, the other palacey or cultural things are not that.. exciting.

One of the issues I have with Korea, and which completely applies to Seoul as well, is that everything was destroyed so many times throughout history. Especially since the last time it was destroyed was only a lifetime ago so all the old things are just reconstructions and all the new things were built very fast.

For some reason this new overpass park has a Jacuzzi or something.

As a result, I honest feel Seoul is pretty boring from a pure sightseeing perspective. You hit up the palaces, maybe the tower and Dongdaemun as well. And then what?

There’s not too much more other that. Some random hikes, parks and other attractions sure, but nothing that really appeals to me.

On the other hand, since Seoul is the capital of Korea, and as a result literally everything revolves around Seoul. The entire country has a population of like 50 million people and a fifth of those people live in the Seoul area. As a result so many things just, happen in Seoul.

So much confetti.

99% of all of the events I ever care about in Korea happen in Seoul. Band I listen to coming to Korea? Performing in Seoul. StarCraft tournament happening? They’re playing in Seoul. Any other festival or whatever that people care about? Seoul.

This is great if you live in Seoul, but as a dude that doesn’t live in Seoul, it kinda sucks. I’ve made so many trips up to Seoul for a day or two just to check out some event or something that I don’t even want to think about how much money that has been.

But still, they’ve always been worth it.

Seoul is a fairly grey city.

Seoul isn’t a good place for sightseeing. But it’s a great place to have fun and just hang out with friends. Areas like Hongdae is always fun to just chill, grab some food, some drinks, and maybe even sing some karaoke.

Of course, all of Korea is like this in some way or another, but since Seoul is the biggest city, there’s always just, more stuff that can me done, more places to go, and more things to try.

The city is so big that there’s always something going on if you can find it. Of course that also means you have to get there too. Since the city is so big it always takes forever to get anywhere, even with the convenient public transit, but that’s the price you pay I guess.

The War Memorial of Korea is by far the best museum in the country.

So overall, Seoul is not an exciting country for the average tourist. However, if you are interested in shopping, eating, drinking, and just exploring the life of people in this country, then Seoul is a great place to visit.

I don’t live in Seoul now and that is probably my biggest sadness of my stint in Korea. If only KAIST was in Seoul. But who knows, I still might have a chance to live there. And then finally I’ll be where everything happens.