Photo Journal: The Old Seoul of South Korea
I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in New York City and thought I was a white Jew for pretty much all of my formative years (nickname: kosher twinkie).
As a result, I have my own yamaka (somewhere), begged my parents incessantly to throw me a bat mitzvah (mazel tov!) and had to work really hard at neutralizing my Jewish New Yorker accent (Jaaaaaahnice!).
It wasn’t until high school that I realized I wasn’t the only errant Asian in town. In fact, my high school was over 50% Asian and that included a whole melting pot that I had never encountered: Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, Korean.
For the next four years, many of my closest friends were Korean and I became completely enamored with their beautifully colorful (and spicy!) culture. Since then, I’ve become a kimchee junkie (like, just shoot it in my veins), a kpop-bopper (Oppa Gangnam style!) and a sobbing addict for Korean dramas (can’t believe he waited 10 years for her and then died of cancer before their wedding, sob*).
So as a veteran Korean-culture fan, I thought I’d share a few highlights from the more historical side of Seoul:
Insadong is a one-stop area for Korean antiquities and although it is a tourist mecca, local Koreans frequent for the cool cafes, museums and food. Our walk through the streets of Insadong was brief but full of beautifully crafted brushes, tea sets and jade jewelry.
Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을)
A traditional village town preserved with a 600-year old history, Bukchon is a series of alleys with traditional Korean housing (hanok) built during the Joseon Dynasty. This might have been my favorite stop over our 3-day stay in Seoul.
Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)
Built in 1394, Gyeongbokgung was the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty (1392~1910) and is today considered to be the grandest of Seoul’s five palaces. We were supposed to meet a friend at a different palace but stumbled upon this one and got lost in all its beauty instead. Oops.
Another of Seoul’s five palaces is Changdeokgung, the most favored of Korea’s past royalty. A unique feature of this palace ground is that its buildings blend with the natural topography of the site. This was the palace we were originally supposed to meet our friend at and finally made it as the sun made its way down the mountain peaks in the backdrop. Breathtaking…
Lotte Hotel World
30, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu,
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2 771 1000