Ibike Korea People-to-People Program



Photo essay: Gangnam Walking Tour



  Morning Tai-chi in Seoul park, South Korea Up early, for an initial walk in the Gangnam neighborhood.  The sidewalk around the park is rubberized to make it more comfortable for walkers (left).  People had already gathered in the park for a session of Tai-chi and stretching. Seoul, typical breakfast

We stopped for breakfast to fuel the engines.  The typical restaurants that serve breakfast generally have tables for two or four. It arrangement seems to work fine because I can't recall ever seeing a Korean group of more than four meeting for breakfast. Lunches and dinners are much more likely to be large groups.

  Boulevard and International style architecture, Seoul International style architecture, Seoul boulebard, Gangnam, Seoul KoreaOutside of the oldest parts of Seoul the streetscape is dominated by wide boulevards and International-style architecture.  After the WWII, much of the the industrial world, embraced International style architecture.  It embraces the philosophy that "less is more." Beauty was to be the result of the structure and form of the building, dependent on the proportions of the structural steel grid and the curtain wall that covered it. Buildings should be functional and geometric. Characteristics are tall slender buildings, glass and aluminum shells. There is no delineation of base, shaft and capital.
  International-style architecture is used for commercial and residential buildings alike.  Fortunately, generally on the non-arterial side of the residential buildings some green space is provide.  These generally aren't full fledged parks capable of accommodation the recreational needs of the adjacent population but they do provide a softer edge and may contain a walking path and bench for meditation.
  Post-modern architecture, Gangnam, Seoul Post-modern architecture, Seoul

Post-modern architecture, Gangnam, SeoulIf "less is more" inspired the international style, "less is a bore" became the mantra of some architects after the 1980's -- labeled post-modern  Post-modern didn't start to seep into Seoul's streetscape until much later.  Even now projects that try to twist, contort and distort the box are rare, but when they do they tend to be very eye catching.  They tend not to deviate from the International form as some post-modern architecture, but they are a start at creativity.Architecture, Gangnam, Seoul. Korea


  Retail, Gangnam, Seoul, Korea Retail, Gangnam, Seoul, KoreaAlas, the street wall of a long many of the boulevards is used for commercial retail space.  It rarely looks much different from what you might see in Los Angeles, London or Paris.  In fact, many of the stores are the same brands that you will see in Los Angeles, London and Paris.
  Fashion shoot, Gangnam, Korea Fashion shoot, Gangnam, KoreaGangnam seems to be a popular location for street photography.  One afternoon we came across a video crew who seemed to be filming a blond making some kind of travel film and a couple of photographers working with models on the sidewalk doing fashion shoots. The latter is no so surprising because high end fashion is one of the things that Gangnam is know for -- the other is body image cosmetic surgery.
  Brunello Cucinelli store, Gangnam, Seoul, Korea Givenchy store, Gangnam, Seoul, KoreaA very recognizable list of the world's high-end fashion designers and most of Koreas homegrown top designers, have a presence in Gangnam. A sample include Versace, Michael Kors, Gucci, Prada, Givenchy, Hermes, Christian Dior, Mark Jacobs, Brunello Cucinelli, Phillip Lim,
  Platter of jeon, Gangnam, Seoul, Korea Eating jeon, Gangnam, Seoul, KoreaAs one might expect, Gangnam has a lot of specialty restaurants. One genre is "jeon" restaurants. Jeon is someplace in the family of pizzas or pancakes.  TheyStreet food vendor, Gangnam, Korea are fried and contain vegetables, seafood or meat. For Koreans jeon is a side dish that goes along with drinking sochu (sake).  Westerners can make a meal out of jeon.

In contrast to the haut culture of Gangnam, you can also find some economical street food vendors.

  Seonjeongneung Royal Tombs. Seonjeongneung Royal Tombs.A few blocks away, in the center of the Gangnam district's high-rise buildings, are the Seonjeongneung Royal Tombs.  King Seongjong (r 1469-94), his second queen, Jeonghyeon-wanghu, and King Jungjong (r 1506-44) are buried here. King Seongjong ascended the throne at the age of 13. He is remembered for his work ethic and love of poetry. In 1485 he promulgated the Grand Code of State Administration, whose compilation had begun in the reign of King Sejo. He also completed the Expanded National Code in 1492, perfecting the laws and institutions of the state. He stabilized the authority of the throne by engaging the neo-Confucian literati to check the meritorious elites who wielded immense power at the time.
  Beowang-ru (Dhama King Pavilion), Bongeun-sa, Seoul

Daewungjeon (main temple), Bongeun-sa, Seoul

Water fountain, Bongeunsa, Seoul Daewungjeon (main temple), Bongeun-sa, SeoulBongeunsa was built in 794 south, across the river from old Seoul.  The temple may have included up to 18 temples/shrines when it was destroyed by fire in 1939. Key shrine currently are: Daewungjeon (main), Bupwangru, Shimgeundang, Seonbuldang, Jijangjeon, Yeonsanjeon, Bukgeukgojeon, Yeonggak, Pan jeon, Bowudang  The temple groups are now totally engulfed by an urban environment, but still is a refuge of tranquility. 

Mireukdaebul (Buddha of the Future State), Bongeunsa, Seoul Mireukdaebul (Buddha of the Future State), Bongeunsa, SeoulThe dominant statue is Mireukdaebul (Buddha of the Future State).  It is the largest Buddha in Korea.  The statue symbolizes hope for Maitreya to arrive and save all of man kind.  Bongeunsa offer temple stay programs, which provide relaxation and a chance to experience the culture through experiencing the daily life of a monk.  

  Posco Bike Station, Gangnam, Seoul, Korea Tallest building is Korea, SeoulStrolling after dark we came upon this fancy bike station. Gangnam is not a part of Seoul with a lot of bicycling, but there must be some. There are a couple of bike shops in Gangnam. They tend to be high-end, serving those going out of the city for road riding or mountain biking.

Lofting above anything for miles around it is the tallest building in Seoul and Korea. It is south of the river, to the east of Gangnam.


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