Ibike Korea People-to-People Program



Photo essay: Seoul Walking Tour


Sample the sights of the ancient and modern capital of South Korea.
Points of Interest: Lots of temples and historic sites, museums and markets.

    This collection of photos are from walks around Seoul to "feel the pulse of the city."  It is quickly evident that it has a lot!  It is steeped in history and full of energy and creativity.
  Seoul subway station platform Seoul subway car interiorThe best way to get across Seoul is on the extensive subway system. It is clean, smooth, comfortable, there is no graffiti. and on Sunday morning it is very spacious. It is said that the subways are multi-purpose -- they can also server as shelters should the north attack.  In the center of town the corridors continue between stations -- as linear shopping malls -- so in extreme weather you can move around the city in climate controlled comfort.
  Seoul Railroad Station Seoul Railroad StationEmerging from the subway system our first stop is Seoul Railroad Station.  The old station was constructed in 1926, by the Japanese, is a Renaissance-style building with a Byzantine dome.  A multi-year restoration project was completed in 2011. The initial development of the Korean rail system was started during the Japanese occupation.  The system now includes a comprehensive system of local, regional and high speed inter-city trains.
  Seoul station interior Korean KTX, bullet trainThe new station is a post-modern glass building. If you are looking for Korea's bullet train this is where to look. Seoul Station is the northern terminus of the KTX, the Korean bullet train.
  Memorial, National War Memorial, Seoul Korea Memorial, National War Memorial, Seoul KoreaMemorial, National War Memorial, Seoul KoreaMemorial, National War Memorial, Seoul KoreaHere are a few of the outside monuments at the National War Memorial of Korea.  There is also a vast array of military equipment on display (20 aircraft and even more types of ground equipment) and six floors on inside displays.
  National War Memorial, Seoul, South Korea Memorial, National War Memorial, Seoul Korea National War Memorial, Seoul, South Korea National War Memorial, Seoul, South Korea National War Memorial, Seoul, South Korea
  bike lane, Seoul Obstructed bike lane, Seoul

In recent years Seoul has made an effort to be more bicycle-friendly. A number of major arterials now have bike lanes, but the central city still has a ways to go before it is family-friendly for bicycling.  The bike lane (right) is blocked by a pedestrian island. It is marked with a bicycle icon next to the curb. There are accessibility ramps serving the cross-walk.

(Click here for more details on the non-motorized infrastructure in Korea.)

  David Gerstein bicycle art, Seoul, "Rider with Flowers", "Ladder Man" and "Armstrong"

David Gerstein bicycle art, Seoul, "Troubadour Bike Rider" and "Weekend Ride"

Perhaps to show that they are in the spirit there is an installation of colorful, energetic, and fun bicycle art.  The sculptures appear to be by David Gerstein, an Israeli artist and sculpture, who has similar pieces in other public spaces around the world.  The pieces in Seoul are: (upper left): "Flower Girl Bike Rider", "Ladder Man" and "Armstrong", (lower left) "Troubadour Bike Rider" and "Weekend Ride", and (right) "Country Rider".  Also a part of  the Seoul installation, but not posted here are "Spring Bicycle Riders" and "Rider in Euphoria". David Gerstein art, Seoul

David Gerstein art, Seoul David Gerstein bicycle art, Seoul, "Country Rider"As a coincidence, I arrived at a hotel in Seoul that I regularly stay at and there two new pieces by Gerstein hanging in the lobby. (The hotel has since been demolished and the whereabouts of the lobby art is unknown.)

  Namdeamum (South Gate), Seoul (2004)

Namdeamum (South Gate), Seoul (2014)

Namdeamum (South Gate), Seoul (2006)Namdaemun (South Gate) is appropriately named because it was literally the south gate into the city through the old Fortress Wall.  Namdaemun is National Treasure number 1. What once marked the edge of the city has long since been engulfed by it, but that hardly diminishes its elegance.  In 2004, it sat inside a traffic circle (left) with five lanes of traffic continually swirling around it. By 2006 it had been "rescued" (upper right).  All of the traffic is diverted to west flank of the gate and pedestrians have access to the gate from the east.  The regular "changing of the guard" ceremony was restored, as well.

Namdeamum (South Gate), Seoul (2013) Namdeamum (South Gate), Seoul (2015)Ironically its 'rescue' may have facilitated its demise because in 2010 it was torched by an arsonist.  To find, collect and properly cure the old growth timber need for and authentic restoration of the structure took several years.  Fortunately the construction fences came down in 2013 and the gate is again visible.  While it is accessible to visitors, it is now difficult to get to any part of it that might be flammable.

    Click here for a walking tour of the City Fortress Wall.
  Shopping street, Namdaemun Market, Seoul International flags above Namdaemun Market, SeoulJust inside the gate is Namdaemun Market. It seems to have everything.  Among the clearly identifiable sections are the fish arcade, vegetable arcade, jewelry arcade, ginseng arcade, clock arcade and folk craft arcade to name a few.
  Shopping street, Namdaemun Market, Seoul

Packs and suitcase shop, Namdaemun Market, Seoul

Hair accessory shop, Namdaemun Market, SeoulIf a shop has one of something it seemed to have an enormous number of that item. And if there is one shop with a certain inventory there is probably another shop with nearly the same inventory near by. In one shop (right) it was all about head bans and hair accessories, with the dominate color of pink.  Other shops would specialized in perfume, or shoes, or socks, or belts, or hats or watches, or phones, or knives, or table settings, or crafts, or ginseng and tea, packs and suitcases, hats and caps, baskets and fans, or trinkets and souvenirs, and the list goes on.

Hat and cap shop, Namdaemun Market, Seoul baskets and fans, Namdaemun Market, Seoul Wholesate souvenir and trinket shop, Namdaemun Market, Seoul Tea and ginseng shop, Namdaemun Market, Seoul

  Pepper grinding shop, Namdaemun Market, Seoul Dried fish shop, Namdaemun Market, SeoulThere were several shops that grind pepper in enormous quantities so that people don't run short of gochu, the main spice for kimchi (left).  Containers, pots and pans shop, Namdaemun Market, Seoul

If you need a container, or pot, or pan, there is a shop for that (right)

Many shops have dried fish -- bagged and hanging -- ready for sale (far right).

  Hanbok shop, MESA, Namdaemun Market, Seoul It is interesting that hanbok fashion changes over time, both the style of cut and color.  One year the reds seem a bit more rust color, and there is less of the light green and pink of recent past years.  This was followed by more pastel colors.  And the style has probably moved on again.

Namdaemun Market, Seoul, vertical mallIn addition to the streets of storefront markets and kiosks, there are at least a dozens "vertical malls" in the neighborhood. In one-story high signs this building lists what you can find on each to the nine floors of the interior: Wholesale flowers, children's clothes, ladies wear (two floors), accessories, men's wear, shoes, "synthesis clothes" (two floors) and a restaurant.

  Shopping street, Myeongdong Market, Seoul Shopping guides / translators, Myeongdong Market, SeoulAdjacent to Namdaemun Market is Myeongdong Market. It is considered more upscale and fashionable. While more expensive, and presumably better quality, than Namdaemun, it is considered to have good price when compared international, so it attracts tourist-shoppers from Japan and other countries East Asia.

To facilitate the shopping there are "shopping guides / translators", mostly with skills in Japanese, but some also wear badge for Chinese.

  Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral, Seoul, Korea Myeongdong is also the home of the main Catholic Cathedral in Seoul.  The gothic-style edifice was built in 1898.
  Skyscrapers and traffic, Seoul Sculpture and art among skyscraper, Myeongdong, Seoul Sculpture and art among skyscraper, Myeongdong, Seoul Sculpture and art among skyscraper, Myeongdong, SeoulMyeongdong is just on the edge of the one concentration of skyscrapers. Most of the skyscrapers are International-style, and descent for the genre.

Tucked between the skyscrapers are sculptures and pieces of art.  Even the largest are dwarfed by the building and lost in the clutter. But if you can separate them out and focus on them, most have something to say.

  Pop-up market selling cloths, Myeongdong, SeoulAlso in the canyons of Myeongdong, we came across what must be the epitome of a pop-up market (right): To do this you drive your car in, park, POP open the hood and trunk (or boot) and crack the windows, then hang your goods from every place (in this case suits, suit-jackets and men's cloths), and voila, you have a market. A Pop-up Market.
  Gift boxes of food for Chusok, Korea

Gift boxes of food for Chusok, Korea

If you are around the market before Chusok (on the 15th Day of the Eighth Month by the Lunar Calendar or roughly on the full moon closest to the September Equinox) there are special displays in Wrapping gift boxes of food in cloth for Chusok, Korea the market.  It is also known a Han-Gawi. It is a day of thanksgiving for a good harvest. As on Lunar New Year's Day (Korea's other major holiday), families come home from all across the country to celebrate together.  It is customary to arrive with a gift.  Cases of many kinds of food are specially packaged for Chusok; cases of fruit (apples, peaches, pears, grapes), cases of dried fish, cases of canned Spam, and cases of sweets are some of the offerings.  These are often wrapped in a cloth.

At the home a feast is prepared by the woman and the men, and sometimes the family, will hold memorial services at the family gravesites. Viewing the full moon is a feature of the evening, when the Koreans would say, "The sky is high and the horse is fat."  Families traditionally received new clothes on this day, but today they are more likely to just dress in tradition Korean hanbok. Faithfully they pay respects to their ancestors with wine, rice cakes, and newly harvested fruits and grains like chestnuts, jujubes, persimmons, apples and Korean pears. The day is not complete without the half-moon shapes rice cakes called songp'yon.

  Bank of Korea, Seoul On the edge of Namdaemun Market is an architectural mismatch for the neighborhood.  This French Renaissance-style building, was designed by the Japanese architect Tatsuno Kinko, in 1911, during the Japanese occupation.  At the time is was the main office of the Bank of Joseon.  After liberation it became the main office of the Bank of Korea.  It stands as an example of one of the many ways the Japanese disregarded (and often aggressively destroyed) the existing history and culture of Korea during their occupation (1910-1945).
  Oldest post office in Korea, SeoulAn now, across from the bank building is Post Tower (left).  It is one of a growing number of highly designed skyscrapers in Seoul with multiple angles, curves and planes that probably couldn't have been successfully designed and built prior to access to powerful computers.

Just for contrast, not far from Post Tower is the oldest post office in Korea.  It now functions as a museum.

  Seoul City Hall Seoul City HallThe old (foreground) and new City Hall (behind the old building in the photo to the right) demonstrate the contrast in Seoul architecture. The old building is another example of neo-classic architecture (from the Japanese occupation era) and the new modern glass international-style building looks like a wave rising and enveloping the old building from behind.
  Changing of the Guard, Deoksugung (Palace), Seoul



Sun dial instructionsDeoksugung (Palace) is a green sanctuary in the bustling city. It was originally (1454) a royal villa, but in 1593, when the Japanese burned the main palace, this became a temporary palace.  From 1623 to 1897 it was not used as a palace.  After being forced to give up his throne in 1910, again by the Japanese, Emperor Gojong secluded himself here until his death in 1919.  It is the smallest and probably simplest palace in Seoul. One item of more interest is a sun dial (upper right), with instructions.

Changing of the Guard, Deoksugung (Palace), SeoulChanging of the Guard, Deoksugung (Palace), SeoulThere is a colorful changing of the guard ceremony at 10:00, 14:00 and 15:00 (subject to change.), except on Mondays and holidays.



    Joseon period royal guard marching in front of the Dunkin Donut shop, Seoul.Changing of the Guard, Deoksugung (Palace), SeoulIt is a bit of cultural clash when the Joseon period royal guard turns the corner and marches in front of the Dunkin Donut shop.
  Girl horn, flute and drum marching corps, Seoul Girl marching horn players, Korea Girl marching flute players, Korea Girl marching shell blowers, Korea Girl marching drummers, Korea
During one visit, this brightly, traditionally attired, all-girl marching, horn, flute, shell and drum corps joined other traditionally attired groups for a parade through Seoul, but I never learned the occasion.
  Anglican Church, Seoul Anglican Church alter, Seoul Anglican Church, SeoulThe Anglican Church, in Seoul, was the first church building in Asia to be built in typical Romanesque style. The apse and altar are Sicilian-style. The image, from left to right, are: St Stephen the Martyr, St John the Evangelist, St Mary, The Prophet Isaiah, and St Nicholas. Jesus Christ  is above.  The organ has 20 stops and 1450 pipes.
  "Zero Milestone" for South Korea At Gwanghwamun Public Square is the "zero milestone" for South Korea.  Previously, this was the location of the Bumingwan multipurpose theatre.  Historically, it was a venue for pro-Japanese rallies after the October 20, 1943, Imperial Order #48 requiring military-age college and high school students to serve in the Imperial army.  In July, 1945, a group of Korean independence fighters threw a bomb at a group of pro-Japanese sympathizers standing here.
  Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South KoreaA very inspiring pedestrian and environmental quality project in the heart of Seoul is the restoration of Cheonggye-cheon (stream). Through the length of the project there are six section with distinct architectural and landscape themes: History Zone, Cultural / Commercial Zone, Nature Zone, Harmony Zone and Seoul Forest Park Zone.  Even within most of the sections, every couple hundred meters the river-scape changes character, providing hundreds of photogenic angles.
  Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South KoreaWhen Seoul was just a village and small town, kids played in the stream and women did laundry on the river bank.  After the Korean War, people seeking a better life in Seoul immigrated from the countryside. They built makeshift houses along and cantilevered over the stream.  This had a heavy impact on the water quality of the stream and filled the channel with garbage.
  Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South KoreaIn the 1960's a series of project cleared the low-cost housing, encase the polluted stream in concrete culverts and build an elevated highway over it.  This was the measure of progress of the day.  (A few of the support pillars for the highway have been left standing.)

Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea

Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South KoreaForty years later the vision and local priorities changed again, this time placing greater values on aesthetics and the natural environment, and preserving the heritage of the city.  The day-lighting of the stream, removal of the highway,  restoration of old bridges and installation of riverside walks, waterfalls and public art was completed in October 2005.  A open stream with crystal clear water now flows between the canyon of skyscrapers and out of the heart of the city.  Each block of the stream and river bank changes character -- generally progressing from more formal and designed to more natural and random.  Along the walkways are exhibits and art installation the commemorate the history of the country, city and stream.

  Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea
  Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, Seoul, South Korea Cheonggye-cheon road, Seoul

Around the head of Cheonggye-cheon, there is to be a full program of events and art installations. It is rare that there is not a stage in the plaza and pop-up tents around the edges. And one October, a block of the river was covered with green umbrellas.

Above Cheonggye-cheon, the road are still lined with markets. Some of the names of the business will prompt you to do a double-take, like the Red Face outdoor equipment store (left).

  Dongdaemun (the east gate), City Fortress Wall, Seoul Dongdaemun (the east gate), City Fortress Wall, SeoulIf you continue far enough along Cheonggye-cheon you will come to the ancient Dongdaemun (the east gate) (left).  Once part of the City Fortress Wall that encircled the city, it is now tucked into and engulfed by the city. 
    Click here for a walking tour of the City Fortress Wall.
  Dongdaemun Design Plaza with a living room (green roof), Seoul high rise residential building, Seoulhigh rise residential building, SeoulOpposite sublime tradition Dongdaemun (gate) is the neo-futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza, with a living room (green roof) (left). It was designed by the award-winning and controversial Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Hadid. Many of her designs were considered so extravagant and expensive they were never built. But she has a long list of successful projects. This project is not usually even on the list of her most notable.

To add to the architectural diversity, not far away a high rise residential building which might have been inspired by the designers earlier play with Legos.

  Temporary art installation, Cheonggyecheon, Seoul Frequently in the plaza at the head of the Cheonggye-cheon restoration and in the open spaces along the way, during the warmer months, there are special programs, performances, exhibits and installations.

The main information center for the Korean Tourism Organization is also along Cheonggye-cheon.  Among the resources there is a permanent exhibit called the K-Star Gallery, with larger-than-life cut-outs of Korean entertainment stars.

  McDonald's McDelivery and valet parking, Korea While we are on the subject of contemporary Korea, it is the home of McDonald's with "McDelivery", motorbike home and office delivery, and valet parking!

Conspicuously absent for this essay is a discussion of coffee shops in Seoul (and all Hammering Man, Seoul, by Jonathan Borofskythe large cities of Korea.) Anyone who has been to Seoul knows this is a distortion. There is a coffee shop on almost every block.  To rectify this we have made a special page on Coffee in Korea.

To be part of the international scene, Seoul also has a "Hammering Man".  The piece was done by Boston born Jonathan Borofsky.  Borofsky has sold nearly identical sculptures to at least Basel, Seattle, and Frankfurt -- they differ only in height.  Seoul's is 72 feet tall, which makes it one of the tallest.  The sculpture is said to celebrate the workers contribution to the city's history.  The arm with the hammer move continuously up and down.

  Admiral Lee Seun Sin Emporer Sejong, SeoulProminently in the median of Sejong-ro, there are larger than life statues to the larger than life Korean national heroes Admiral Lee Seun Sin and Emperor Sejongno Road.  Admiral Lee undermined the Japanese invasion (1592-98) with his "turtle ships" that reeked havoc with Japanese supply lines. Emperor Sejong, among many accomplishments, revived the Chiphyonjon, Royal Academy. It started with a staff of 10 and grew to 20 and development Hangul script and many scientific instruments.
  US Embassy, Seoul Fountain, Sejong Rd, SeoulAlso prominent on Sejong Road is the 24/7/365 guarded U.S. Embassy.  It is not with just a few sentries, but armored military vehicles and a detachment of riot police camped along the wall.  Some of this is visible in the lower right of the photo.  It is pretty much ignored by the tourists.

In the median of Sejong-ro, almost across the street from the U.S. Embassy children frolic in the fountain on warm days.

  Gwanghwamun (gate), Gyeongbokgung (palace), Seoul Gyeongbokgung (palace), SeoulGyeongbokgung, built in 1395, was the primary palace of the Joseon Dynasty.  While it has a resemblance to the Forbidden City in Beijing, much of it has been destroyed.  It was never as large as the Forbidden City because Korea was generally subservient to China and had to show deference. This is Gwanghwamun (gate) and the palace wall.
  changing of the guard ceremony, Gyeongbokgung Drum, changing of the guard ceremony, Gyeongbokgung changing of the guard ceremony, Gyeongbokgung Guard and tourist, GyeongbokgungDuring the day, weather permitting, there are ceremonies for the opening and closing of the palace gates, and twelve, hourly Changing-of- the-Gate-Guards, with several variations.

When the guards are in position they are happy to stoically pose for pictures with the tourists -- individuals or groups.  There is no one keeping order for this process so if there are a lot of tourists it can be very competitive to be the next person saddled up to the guard for the photo-op.

    Click here for a walking tour inside Gyeongbokgung
  History of hanbok exhibit, National Folk Museum, Seoul The National Folk Museum, also on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung, has 4300 artifacts, displayed in three main halls: Hall I: History of Korean People, Hal II: The Korean Way of Life, and, Hall III Life Cycle of Koreans.

One of the exhibits is on the history of the Hanbok.  It is fascinating to see the evolution of the style.  Even today the cut and color change from year to year like any fashion trend.  The common denominator seems to be high wasted belt or tie.

  Kimchi exhibit, National Folk Museum, Seoul The next intriguing exhibit on the nuances of Korean culture is on the making and evolution of kimchi.  Some kimchi is fiery hot, but other type a are cool pickled vegetables.  A main component of the hot styles of kimchi is red pepper, but the story is that red pepper was only introduce to Korea, from Europe via Japan, in the 17th century.  This revolutionizing kimchi, but begs the question, "What was Korean cuisine before the introduction of red pepper?"  One display shows 23 types of kimchi.  There are now 160 types of kimchi.
  Children's museum, National Folk Museum, Seoul. Replica of 1950 street, National Folk MuseumIncorporated into the National Folk Museum is a hands-on children's museum.  The is also an outdoor section to the museum with traditional children's games and a replica of a 1950's Seoul street.
  Traditional Korean music and dance performance Traditional Korean music and dance performance Traditional Korean music and dance performance Traditional Korean music and dance performanceIn time it may change, but I am amazed at how often I happen upon public performances of traditional Korean music and dance in Seoul. They happen at museums, palaces, on the boulevards and in the public square. The Koreans in the audience seem as thrilled as the non-Koreans.
  Bukchon alley Bukchon rooflines, Seoul Bukchon rooflines, SeoulBukchon (north village) was a residential area of high government officials during the Joseon Period.  After the fall of the Joseon Dynasty and the occupation by the Japanese, Bukchon fell on hard times.  As the old traditional hanok, wooden houses, became derelict they were replaced by less traditional structures. There is now a resurgence in appreciation for the hanok that has lead to effort to preserve the remaining few. Bukchon has a higher concentration of hanok than any other part of the city and has become famous for this.  It has again become a fashionable address. Bukchon street, Seoul KoreaBukchon rooftops, Seoul Korea
Donhwanmun Gate, the oldest palace gate among those remaining in Korea.
Chimney for ondol heating system, Changdeokgung Palace Throne, Changdeokgung PalaceChangdeokgung was the 2nd palace for a long period.  After the Imjin Invasion (1592-98), Changdeokgung was the first rebuilt and was used as the main palace until until 1865, in the late Joseon Dynasty. A special feature of Changdoekgung is its royal garden.

Changdeokgung has many of the elements of Gyeongbokgung, the big palace, on a lesser scale.

Click here for a walking tour of Changdeokgung & the Secret Garden

  Changdeokgung Palace Changdeokgung Palace Nakseonjae, Changdeokgung Palace Nakseonjae, Changdeokgung Palace Nakseonjae, Changdeokgung Palace
    Insa-dong is a small area near the palaces that was traditional noted for antique and rare book dealers, calligraphy shops, and tea rooms.  It was patronized by seniors, aristocrats and artists. Gentrification and modernization is pushing them out. 
  Seoul, Insa-dong, calligraphy brush stature Street art / fountain, Insadong, Seoul Modern tea shop, Insadong, Seoul Seoul, Insa-dong, Seoul, Insa-dong, sock shop Tourist shop, Inso-dong, Seoul





The new era has produced a spruced up streetscape and street art, but the new stores inventories tend toward universal fast food, tourist nick-knacks, logo wear, designer fashion, etcetera -- but they keep the street filled with people.  

    Insadong, Seoul Seoul, Insa-dong, Seoul, Insa-dong,
  Celadon pottery store, Insadong, Seoul Seoul, Insa-dong, fan shopCeladon pottery shop. Celadon is pale-jade-green pottery, made from white clay with a small iron content.  It is coated with a ferric feldspar dirt glaze and fired at 1300oC. The process was refined from the 10th to 12th century. Celadon's high quality was favored by the royal family.
  Calligraphy brush and paper store, Insadong, Seoul

Seoul, Insa-dong, hand painted fan artistCalligraphy brush and paper shop.

Seoul, Insa-dong, prints for saleThere are still a few artist in the area practicing their trade, as exemplified by the man to the right hand-painting fans.


  Seoul, Insa-dong, antique dealer Seoul, Insa-dong, antique dealerInto the first decade of the new millennium there were antique dealers in the store fronts along the main streets.  These have now been pushed to shops on the side streets and a couple of temporary sales kiosks on the main street.
  Fortune tell, Seoul Fortune tell, SeoulThese fortune tellers was two in a line of about a dozen fortune teller booths at the end of Insa-dong street.  There are both male and female fortune tellers, and they seem to use a variety of techniques, such as palm reading, tarot cards and others.
  Cargo bikes, Seoul Korean back pack, used for carry good through narrow isles of the market. Cargo bike, SeoulSeoul is full of narrow streets and tightly packed market areas.  Two of the long standing modes for moving goods in and around the markets are by back pack and cargo bikes.  The bikes have a long wheel base that is achieved by lengthening all of the horizontal tubes.  To correct the distance between the saddle and the handlebars, the seat post is a goose-neck that extends forward and supported by additional brasing.  The platform on the back is large enough to carry a medium-size refrigerator, which has probably been done.
  ten-story pagoda, Tapgol (Pagoda) Park, Seoul


stele, Tapgol (Pagoda) Park, Seoul ten-story pagoda, Tapgol (Pagoda) Park, SeoulTapgol (Pagoda) Park was the first modern park in Seoul.  The primary pieces were recovered from the site of Wongak-sa, a Joseon era temple -- since destroyed.  The park gets it name from the intricately carved, ten-story, 12m high, marble pagoda that was moved to the park. It was originally 13 stories.  The monument to the right describes the history of the construction of Wongak-sa. Granite turtle base, with a marble body stone and head stone.  The park is historically prominent because it is the birth place of Korea's modern Independence Movement.  On March 1, 1919, during the Japanese occupation, 400-500 students gathered here to hear the first reading of  the Korean Declaration of Independence. Korean Declaration of Independence, Tapgol (Pagoda) Park, Seoul pavilion, Tapgol (Pagoda) Park, Seoul
  "Uiam" Son Byeong-Hui, Tapgol (Pagoda) Park, Seoul "Uiam" Son Byeong-Hui (left) was a Chondokyo (Donghak) leader, independence activist and educator. Headed the group of 33 men that represented the people during the March 1 Movement.

On a back street, a few blocks from Tapgol Park, is Mahabodhi-sa (temple). The temple was built by Zen Master Yong Sung for the Independence of Korea from Japanese occupation. At age 48 he devoted himself to the cause for the next 29 years.

Zen Master Yong Sung brought the land to build the temple, which became the headquarters of the Independence movement. In 1912, Zen Master Yong Sung met Mr. Kim Gu, age 32. Seven years later Kim Gu was imprisoned for his active participation in the Independence Movement.  He escaped from prison and later became an ordained Buddhist monk at Magoksa, where he practiced for three years before he became a layman. Kim Gu stayed at Daegaksa whenever he was in Seoul. Having been greatly influenced by the Zen Master Yong Sung, Kim Gu decided to dedicate his life to the independence of Korea. When Kim Gu was exiled to Shanghai for his activities, Zen Master Yong Sung provided the funds to support his activities.

On March 1, 1919, the 33 representatives of the Independence Movement, including Zen Master Yong Sung, declared Korea's independence at Tapgol Park.  He was imprisoned for two years as a result. Upon his release, Zen Master Yong Sung continued to secretly take part in the Independence Movement while translating Buddhist scriptures and teaching the Dharma to the public.  He also purchased an orchard in Hamyang, Gyeongsang Province, and another one in Yongjung, Manchuria, to raise money to support the Independence Army in Manchuria.  In retaliation, the Japanese confiscated the private property owned by Mahabodhi-sa in 1931.

Zen Master Yong Sung passed away on February 24, 1940, at Mahabodhi-sa.  His relics (Sari) are preserved in Haein-sa.  Mahabodhi-sa is a Mecca of Buddhist teaching and March 1 Independence Movement.

  Jogyesa Temple, Seoul Jogyesa Temple, Seoul Checkers, Men's club, in the park, SeoulJogyesa Temple, headquarters of Korean Buddhism.

Not far away, in the shade of a park, the men's club has gathered to pass the day.

  Monument to Min Young-Hwan Min Young-HwanThe monument (left) is at Ri Insik's house, where general, civil servant and activist Min Young-Hwan (b. 1861) committed suicide on November 30, 1905, after leading resistance to capitulation to the invasion by the Japanese.  The statue of Min (right) is near Bongeun-sa.
  Bosingak Bell Tower The Bosingak Bell Tower was originally built in 1396.  The bell was rung to signal the opening and closing of the city gates and to alert citizens when there was a fire.  The tower, itself, was burnt down several times and rebuilt.
  Korea House, Seoul, South Korea The current Korea House was constructed in 1980. it is the work of Shin Eung-Soo, a great carpenter artisan, as well as important cultural asset.  Historically, it was the private residence of one of the six most royal subjects of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
  Namsangol Hanok (traditional) Village, Seoul Namsangol Hanok (traditional) Village, Seoul, was created to preserve the national heritage by moving some of the Joseon's yangban (noble class) houses still remaining in the capital to a central site. Tragically, much of the heritage housing in Seoul was destroyed during the Japanese occupation (1910-45)
  Interior, Namsangol Hanok (traditional) Village, Seoul Namsangol Hanok (traditional) Village, consists of the parental houses of Queen Yun, consort to King Sunjong (1907-10); Shrine house of Haepung Buwongun (title given to a king's father-in-law) Yun; Interior, Namsangol Hanok (traditional) Village, Seoul House of Bumadowi (title given to a king's son-in-law) Bak; House of Owijang (Commander of Five Commanders') Kim; and, House of Dopyeonsu (Master Architect) Yi.

This is one of the interiors, with period pieces at Namsangol Hanok (traditional) Village, Seoul


The National Museum of Korea is the flagship museum of Korean history and art in South Korea. Since its establishment in 1945, the museum has been involved in studies and research activities in the fields of archaeology, history, and art.  In 2005 the museum relocated to a new building in Yongsan District.

    The museum is divided into three floors. Symbolically, the left of the museum is supposed to represent the past, while the right side of the museum represents the future. The ground floor contains parks; gardens of indigenous plants; waterfalls and pools; and a collection of pagodas, stupas, lanterns, and steles.
  Earrings, Goryeo Period, National Museum of Korea, Seoul On the first floor is the Prehistory and Ancient History Gallery. The nine exhibition rooms in the gallery are the Palaeolithic Room, the Neolithic Room, the Bronze Age & Gojoseon Room, the Proto Three Kingdoms Room, the Goguryeo Room, the Baekje Room, the Gaya Room, and the Silla Room. Also on the first floor is the Medieval and Early Modern History Gallery, which showcases the cultural and historical heritage throughout the Unified Silla, Balhae, Goryeo, and Joseon periods. The eight rooms of the gallery include the Unified Silla Room, Balhae Room, Goryeo Room, and the Joseon Room.
    Calligraphy chart, National Museum of Korea, SeoulThe second floor contains the Donation Gallery and the Calligraphy and Painting Gallery, which contains 890 pieces of art that showcase the traditional and religious arts of Korea in line and color. The Calligraphy and Painting Gallery is divided into four rooms: the Painting Room, the Calligraphy Room, the Buddhist Paintings Room, and the Sarangbang (Scholar's Studio).
  National Treasure of Korea No. 83, Bangasayusang, Pensive Bodhisattva National Museum of Korea, SeoulThe third floor contains the Sculpture and Crafts Gallery, with 630 pieces that represent Korean Buddhist sculpture and craftwork. Highlights of the gallery include Goryeo Celadon wares and National Treasure of Korea No. 83, Bangasayusang (or Pensive Bodhisattva). The five rooms of the gallery are the Metal Arts Room, the Celadon Room, the Buncheong Ware Room, the White Porcelain Room, and the Buddhist Sculpture Room.

Also on the third floor is the Asian Arts Gallery, which contains 970 pieces that explore the similarities and divergences of Asian art and the confluence of Asian and Western art via the Silk Road. The five rooms are the Indian & Southeast Asian Art Room, the Central Asian Art Room, the Chinese Art Room, the Sinan Undersea Relics Room, and the Japanese Art Room.

  Comparison of Chinese, Korean and Japanese bells, National Museum of Korea, Seoul National Museum of Korea, Seoul National Museum of Korea, Seoul National Museum of Korea, Seoul 
  Gyeongcheonsa Pagoda, National Museum of Korea, Seoul

Gyeongcheonsa Pagoda, National Treasure of Korea 86

Gyeongcheonsa Pagoda, National Treasure of Korea 86Within the museum is Gyeongcheonsa Pagoda, National Treasure of Korea No. 86.

An inscription on the first story of the pagoda states that it was erected in the fourth year of King Chungmok in 1348. The pagoda was first placed at the now-lost Gyeongcheonsa Temple which sat at the foot of Mt. Buso in Gwangdeok-myeon, Gaepung-gun, Gyeonggi-do Province. During the Japanese occupation of Korea, the pagoda was taken to Japan. In 1960, the pagoda was returned and placed on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace.

The pagoda stands 13 m in height and is ten stories tall. However, because of the three-tiered foundation, it is a common mistake to believe that the pagoda has thirteen stories. Unlike most Goryeo-era pagodas, this pagoda is made from marble. The preferred material of Korean sculptors was generally granite.

Gyeongcheonsa Pagoda sits on a three-tiered foundation which projects in four directions like a cross. The first three stories of the pagoda share the same shape as the foundation. Each panel of this tiered foundation is carved with Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, flowers, and arabesque patterns.

The remaining storeys are square in shape and share intricate detailing which tries to create the illusion that the marble pagoda is made from wood. Each remaining storey has railings, a hip-and-gabled roof, eaves, and carvings made to suggest that each roof is tiled.

    Returning to the food theme......
  Cook preparing modeum jeon -- assorted pancakes.

Platter of modeum jeon -- assorted pancakes.If the Italians got the idea for pizza from Korea it was from panjeon. (The suggestion is only because Marco Polo brought the concept of pasta from Asia back to Italy.)  A better similitude for jeon is a cross between a pancake and tempura.  Jeons are made from a variety of vegetables and / or seafoods fried in a light batter. They can take many forms. The cook on the left is preparing and the platter to the right has modeum jeon -- assorted pancakes.

  Korean fish and mandu dinner at a restaurant, Seoul Korean fish and mandu (dumplings) dinner, with and assortment of side dishes. (left)
    Click here for a walking tour of Gangnam as in "Gangnam-style".
    Click here to visit Incheon and the Han River

Han River Trail: Incheon to Seoul.

Seoul to Pallang (Cultural Heartland, Four Rivers, and Exploring Eastern Korea)

Travelogue Main Page Tour Information Tour map Register for this tour


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