Seoul – The Trendsetter of the 21st Century
The largest metropolis and capital of South Korea, this city is situated on the Han river and is surrounded by mountains creating a complex mixture of quaint natural beauty and a fast paced global city. This city is one of East Asia’s cultural and financial hotbed, giving rise to multinational companies like Samsung and LG and is the birthplace of K-pop.
1. History of Seoul
The starting point in Seoul’s official history was in 18 BCE, when it became the capital of Baekje, however, this area became important only during the time of the Joseon dynasty in 1392 when Former General Yi Seong-gye made it his capital. In 1910 Japan invaded and took control of the region for the next three and a half decades. Seoul managed to free itself from the Japanese regime in 1948 and has since been on a non stop journey to prosperity.
2. Night Life in Seoul
The nightlife of the city is lively and colorful, a multitude of bars and pubs to get your groove on along with cafe’s and restaurants catering to your hunger at any hour of the night, Seoul is well acquainted with the lifestyle of today’s youth. Gambling is also pretty common and if you want to try your luck, options are a gogo.
At the same time getting aboard on the cruise ship to see the nightlights of this amazing city or hanging out at the Hangang river to view the whole of Seoul in an intimate setting is also something you shouldn’t miss.
3. Safety in Seoul
The city is not the safest in the world but it’s also not the most dangerous. Like any major city crime, theft and scam is present in Seoul, other than that, traffic rules in the city are not really strict so caution on road and sidewalks is necessary.
There are very few garbage disposal cans along the roads, so people do litter a lot here and rats here are in abundance. Be prepared as you will see rat pancakes quite often. Lately, foreigners have been victims of flash mobs by young adult Korean males, most likely belonging to gangs; common areas are where nightlife is active and the business districts.
4. Living Expenses in Seoul
Seoul is pretty expensive to live in, it ranks as the 5th most expensive city in Asia. On an average rent for an apartment in a good locality will be around 1,330,000 ₩ (USD 1078) for one bedroom and 3,630,000 ₩ (USD 2938) for three bedroom. Buying one square feet of apartment area in a posh location 1,400,000 ₩ (USD 1129).
Hotel tariffs on suites in Conrad or Park Hyatt are up to 420000 ₩ (USD 338). Budget hotels on the other hand charge on an average around 45057 ₩ (USD 36)
5. Cuisines of Seoul
The city is packed with restaurants be it Korean, Japanese or Chinese. The most popular dishes in the city are Ddeokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes), Samgyupsal (Grilled Pork Belly BBQ), Dakgalbi (Pan Fried Chicken), Chi-maek (Fried Chicken and Beer) and are worth trying. The main dishes however are Gukbap, Heukimjajuk, Pyeonsu and Saengchi mandu.
Seafood dominates the cuisine of the city and is pretty common in the street food dishes. However, if you’re a vegetarian, you are not short of options as Seoul is home to many vegan restaurants. Try out restaurants like the Atrio, Eden Valley or Salon Delicious for some veggie love.
6. Statistics of Seoul
The 4th largest metropolitan economy in the world, the city is spread out over an area of 605.21 sq. km with the population density of 17,000 per sq.km.
The city is infamous for it’s population density, double than that of even New York. Majority of the residents are Korean with some scattered population belonging to Chinese, Japanese and other immigrants. Christianity and Buddhism are the dominant religion of the city.
7. Public Transport in Seoul
The city has a pretty dense and advanced transportation network which is constantly expanding and getting better with time. With Incheon International Airport and Gimpo International Airport, Seoul is in touch with the rest of the world.
There are many ways to travel around Seoul but the most convenient and comfortable is the subway which connects every district within the city. Transit cards are available, however single journey tickets can also be purchased. Special International Taxis are available in the city where the drivers are efficient in foreign languages especially English; they can be reserved here. The city also has an efficient bus system, with four different bus categories, all color coded. The KTX high speed train and Express buses connect Seoul to the rest of the country.
Pollution in Seoul: Pollution in the city is rampant. The plethora of cars do not really help matters at hand neither do the coal fired power plants. The PM 2.5 levels are at an unhealthy 120, not that low from Delhi’s 180.
8. Weather of Seoul
The city enjoys a subtropical climate with the addition of cold dry winter. In summers the city gets very hot and humid and summer rains are common with typhoon season taking place between July through September. Keeping an umbrella with you at all times is advised. The best time to visit would be the Autumn and Spring seasons. Annual average precipitation is around 1,450mm.
Summer: June till September. Average high: 28°C; Average low: 20°C
Autumn: October till November. Average high: 15°C; Average low: 6°C
Winter: December till February. Average high: 3°C; Average low: -4°C
Spring: March till April. Average high: 14°C; Average low: 5°C
9. Culture of Seoul
Religion is an important part of Seoul’s society and politics and is home to some of the most beautiful Buddhist shrines and churches.
K-dramas and K-pop are at the moment the ‘hot thing’ in the world, even rivaling western nations in their popularity, and has been dubbed as Asia’s foremost trendsetter. Sejong Center for Performing Arts is one of the oldest multipurpose theatres in the city.
Some of the annual festivals to look out for are Seoul International Fireworks Festival, Hi Seoul Festival and Namsan Bongsudae (Beacon Tower) Traditional Culture Concert.
10. Places to visit in Seoul
Things to do in Seoul: The Seoul city tour bus would be the most efficient way to experience all this city has to offer. The Dongdaemun Market is a place where you can find anything and everything whereas Myeong-dong is considered the shopping Mecca of the city. Namdaemun Market is a good place to experience the traditional shopping experience. Seoul City Wall gives you glimpse into the past and a chance to experience the city in a new light.If you are looking for some outdoor adventure, then hiking is here is available for you.
Things to do for Kids in Seoul: Children’s Grand Park is a great place to for the whole family to explore with an amusement park and zoo within. Public parks, theme parks and theme walks are also well loved activities. Lotte World, the largest theme park ever built is also an amazing experience for kids and adults alike.
Museums and Galleries: Seoul has museums in abundance catering to diverse interest. The National Museum of Korea, The War Memorial of Korea, National Children’s Museum, Seoul Museum of History and Teseum Seoul are just a few in a very long list. Gallery Hyundai is one of the oldest art galleries in the city and has been host to many artists and their work. PKM Gallery is another destination to look out for. Leeum – Samsung Museum of Art has an incredibly rich art collection playing host to many International artists.
Places Nearby: Seonyudo is a group of small islands and is a peaceful getaway from the hustle-bustle of the city. It’s a great place to relax and explore the shores.
Offbeat Places: The Ice Gallery is not exactly a popular tourist destination but is overall a pretty fun experience. The Seodaemun Prison Museum is a high tech torture display arena showing the history of the thousands of prisoners who suffered under the Japanese rule, you probably shouldn’t take your kids here.
Author’s Conclusion: The city is a concoction of the old and new; the culture, cuisine and lifestyle has had influence from neighbour countries, but over the years, Seoul, has absorbed and revamped itself to give rise to the status and position that it holds today.
|Currency||South Korean Won (₩) (1₩ = USD 0.00081 as of 25th February 2016)|
|Time Zone||Korea Time Zone (UTC+09)|
|Driving||Right Hand Traffic, Left Hand Drive vehicles|
|Helpline||Police-112; Fire-119; Emergency-119; Medical Emergency (foreigners)-1339|
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