Tuesday, December 16, 2008

South Korea 2008 - Seoul

Seoul, or more likely nearby Incheon airport, is probably the first port of entry for many travelers entering South Korea. Being one of the largest metropolitan complexes in the world, the city itself may not really be considered 'attractive' and there may not sport to many 'tourist attractions'. However, there's plenty to see and do here including the Changdeokgung Palace, N'Seoul Tower and the Inwangsan mountain trails. It's at night where the city really comes alive. There's always a show going on - like the excellent martial arts comedy show, "JUMP" which Dusty treated me to and the city never seems to sleep. Seoul's vibrant shopping centers are open almost all night long. It's also a great place to get a taste of some of Korea's 'esoteric' cuisine - including the infamous dog soup.
One must-do side trip from Seoul is a bone-chilling tour of the demilitarized zone separating South Korea with its northern counterpart, better known simply as the 'DMZ'. The 4km stretch of no-mans land divides two similar cultures yet two completely different worlds. Nowhere else can the tension be felt any more than in Panmunjom, where top-ranked taekwando expert North and South Korean soldiers stare each other down all day in a game of international intimidation. The US military cadets who act as guides on the tour, put on by the United Service Organization, don't exactly alleviate the tension by constantly reminding us that world war three could break out at any minute if we so much as wink at the North Korean soldiers - not something you'd really want to add to your CV. A walk down one of North Korean incursion tunnel, apparently built to transport some 30,000 soldiers is a firm reminder that the cold war is still going on in some parts of the world. A less intense day trip from Seoul is the Korean Folk Village, near Suwon.
For more photos of my trip to Seoul, check them out here:

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