Centuries of strife had its crippling effect for a while but it did not permanently paralyze this beautiful place in Asia. Their determination to rise above the ashes brought forth their ingenuity and industriousness. After the Korean War, from 1961 to 1987, they were led by a dictator who implemented extremely harsh measures to achieve a desired outcome…then the successor was succeeded by liberal leaders who had the vision and were able to rekindle the flames within their citizens so they would shine brightly once again.
Ultimately, they had experienced a miracle – the “Miracle on the Han River” – a spectacular economic rise which made them the 11th largest economy in the world by 2002. Indeed, they have arrived brightly on the world stage.
The Streets of Modern Seoul
Seoulites continue to create, innovate and generate great ideas. They shine in the international music scene, film festivals, literature, and visual arts. It’s a delight to walk along their streets with vibrant modern art scenes.
Seoul, like most industrialized cities, faced problems like rising population, staggering energy consumption as well as water and air pollution. It felt the need to design and construct an urban green infrastructure program to provide an eco-friendly environment in the middle of the city. The Cheongye Stream project was a dynamic greenspace project rehabilitating an old streambed which cuts across the capital, moderating the heat from the surrounding buildings and concrete.
The 2003 discovery beneath the Cheonggye riverbed of the Kwangtong bridge, which was built in 1410 and was the busiest intersection of the old city, indicates that the stream had its recreational and social value for more than 600 years.
The rebirth of the stream, along with the other urban renewal projects, shows that its government made some strides in giving importance to protecting the well-being of its people as the metropolitan progresses.
Cheongye Stream before…
Cheongye Stream now…
A Leisurely City Walk
Seoul has a picturesque neighborhood. The beautiful Han River swirls around the city and the streets are dotted with parks, biking trails, museums, historical palaces, quaint shops, modern buildings, restaurants, and shopping centers.
Shopping and Coffee Times
It’s a delight to roam around the artsy historical spot Insadong where there’s an abundance of souvenirs, antiques, Korean ceramics, and other artworks, as well as cozy tea shops, coffee shops and restaurants.
Some souvenirs I bought at Insadong!
A fun atmosphere at Myeondong shopping district! It’s teeming with young shoppers morning till night! You can find restaurants, food stalls, malls, department stores, small and big shops with local and imported brands.
This is a tourist friendly city. There are information desks with English speaking staff and tourism officers in Dongdaemun Market.
Dongdaemun Market is such a huge market with 10 blocks of shopping malls teeming with restaurants, cinemas, saunas, food stalls, thousands of speciality shops, and more than 50,000 manufacturers of all types of fabrics, clothing, accessories, bags, and shoes which you can purchase in retail and wholesale. I bought a few soccer shirts which I was able to get at a good price after some bargaining with the vendor.
Sleeping in Seoul
There’s a wide range of accommodations to choose from, like hotels with western-style rooms to hanok guesthouses with a peaceful garden.
This Lotte City Mapo Hotel is modern, conveniently located near downtown Seoul and it is right above a subway station.