Thursday, January 5, 2012

We'll tear your Seoul apart



I finally made it to South Korea, which I suppose would complete one of this blog's long-running narrative arcs if this was actually some kind of slightly tedious drama series and not my actual life. Korea had a lot to live up to, and apart from some state-sanctioned racism, homophobia and widespread gender inequality, it doesn't disappoint - this is one of my favourite countries I've been to yet. Though I might have been easily won over by the delightfully sub-zero temperatures after spending 10 months in perennially sweaty (and perineumally sweaty) South East Asia.

I'm planning on spending at least a couple of months in The Good Korea, so there'll be plenty of time to blog about the Koreans and their unnecessarily great food. But to start things off, I took a trip to the country's heart and Seoul.

(Oh sorry, I just noticed I spelled that incorrectly - it should have been 'soul.' If only there was some way to edit this).


Seoul
(서울)




This time last year I was in Taiwan, and it seems we're back to needlessly cute anthropomorphised characters being employed in every situation (probably enough to give them their own blog post). Seoul reminds me more of Taipei than any other place I've visited, but I think the influence goes the other way around. Never underestimate the influential power of K-Pop and mawkish drama series for remodelling a civilisation



Sejong the Great.
Iron Maiden didn't write a song about him, so my knowledge is lacking



Blue House / President's residence (청와대):
idealised/unrealistic view



More realistic view. I'm the Penn & Teller/Julian Assange of tourism



Cheonggyecheon urban river



Don't go Cheonggyecheon waterfalls (a mid-1990s pop reference for you there)



Jogyesa Temple (조계사) and ancient pine tree



Insadong traditional shopping street



So traditional, they didn't allow Starbucks to use Latin text in its sign.



I lied about saving the food until later. Korean food is the best.
But as I would later discover to my horror in Busan, it can also be the most harrowing


Gyeongbokgung Palace
(경복궁)



Gwanghwamun Gate



Heungnyemun Gate. I could have cropped out the tourists, but that would just leave a roof



Luckily for misanthropes, some areas remain ghost towns



Gangnyeongjeon (King's Quarters)



Gyotaejeon (Queenie's Quarters)



Hwangwonjeong Pavilion



Gwanmungak Library. I like libraries






If I was a Korean kid, I would want to grow up to be this guy


Deoksugung Palace
(덕수궁)



More guys who love their jobs. The changing of the guard ceremony seemed to take place at least five times per hour, so catch it if you can



This palace was emptier, so I liked it more



Jungwajeon Throne Hall



Roof aminals


National Folk Museum of Korea
(국립민속박물관)



This place was more interesting than it sounds



Some kind of Planet of the Apes/Roosters/Pigs situation



Seoul circa 1970



Seoul circa 1890



Seoul circa dead ages ago



Your mum

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