We originally hadn’t planned on going to South Korea, but we realized we had some time after India before we were heading to Japan to meet Cory’s parents. After talking for a while, we decided on visiting Seoul and it turned out to be a great decision. We ended up loving the culture there, and Seoul seemed to have the right mix of old and new, where there were loads of cool historic sections as well as ultra-modern sections. We explored a lot of the city, heading to a different neighborhood almost every day we were there. As mentioned in the last post, we also made it out of the city and visited the DMZ which was a really interesting experience.
Most of our time there we spent wandering around and visiting different areas of the city. We ended up spending a lot of time around Insadong, which had loads of traditional shops, art galleries, cool teahouses and loads of interesting restaurants. We also enjoyed walking around the area near Gyeongbokgung Palace. This palace was built in 1395 and was the home of the Joseon dynasty. It was a large complex and all of the buildings inside were beautiful. Nearby was also the Bukchon Hanok Village, a traditional village with old houses tucked behind the palace complex. Walking around through here was a nice way to escape the busier parts of the city and see what life was like in old Korea.
We had some of the most interesting food so far on the trip in Seoul. Up until then, we pretty much knew what we were ordering, and nothing was too crazy, but in Seoul we started to have to just pick things that sounded interesting and hope we liked them! Just about every meal also came with banchan which are small side dishes served your meal in Korea. These varied from place to place but all of them included kimchi, which is fermented cabbage and spices. Others included soybean sprouts, pickled radish, seaweed, potato salad, peppers, and loads of other things that we’re still not sure what we ate. Some better than others (didn’t end up loving kimchi) but all interesting! Our favorite meal was a big cast iron plate of chicken with melted cheese on top served with eggs, corn, and a variety of sauces. We of course also went to a traditional Korean BBQ place where we grilled our own meat. This ended up being really good but we needed just a smidge of help from the staff with the grilling.
For the second half of the week we stayed in Hongdae, which is where the main universities in Seoul are. Our favorite thing to do here at night was walk around and watch all the dance crews dancing to KPOP songs. These crews were out every night dancing to the hits right now and huge crowds would gather around. It was really entertaining, and we have a few new favorite KPOP songs.
There was always something going on in Seoul which made it a great city just to explore. We definitely could have spent even longer here and could see why it’s a popular city for expats. There’s just enough English around to get by without feeling completely overwhelmed, and with most people having a rough grasp of English it was never an issue doing anything. We would definitely come back in the future and maybe explore more of South Korea!