I recently wrote about my fabulous trip to Thailand. On the way back from Bangkok, my daughter and I stopped in picturesque South Korea. Although Its northern neighbor, North Korea, has been in the news a great deal lately, South Korea appears to be a safe and surprising alternative for touring the Korean Peninsula.
The American influence in South Korea, probably due to the many US Military bases located throughout the country, can definitely be seen as soon as one steps out of the airport in its capital, Seoul. It is the Fourth-largest metropolitan economy in the world.
The population of South Korea is estimated to be 51.8 million and about half of the country’s Inhabitants, 24.5 million, live in Seoul. Much of the food, fashion and the way South Koreans have fun is influenced by western culture. For example, South Korean street-food markets sell something that resembles a corn dog.
From the airport in Seoul, visitors are offered tours of the city, some of which are free. We took a bus from the airport for a nominal fee to an area of the city with some great tourist attractions.
At the airport, we Exchanged US Dollars (USD) for South Korea Won (KRW). Today, 1 KRW is Equal to 0.00086 USD.
One of the places we visited in Seoul is called the National Palace Museum of Korea. It can take many hours to see everything this extensive museum houses. Its exhibits include everything from Imperial thrones from the Korean Empire to Vehicles of Emperor Sun Jong and Empress Singeing to Artwork from the Joseon Dynasty. Also on display is a reproduction of a Famous self-striking water clock.
After leaving the museum, we went to the Gyeongbokgung Palace grounds where people were dressed in South Korean traditional “Hanbok” attire in Preparation for a festival. What a treat it was to be able to see these beautiful, colorful outfits being worn while in South Korea on the grounds of the main royal palace in the Joseon Dynasty. Joseon, founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392, was replaced by the Korean Empire in October 1897.
The South Korean people were very gracious during our visit and posed for pictures with us while wearing their traditional outfits. We left Seoul with a greater appreciation for Korea and its history, culture and people. Riding through the streets of Seoul seemed a lot like riding through the Streets of Manhattan but cleaner, less crowded and more modern. One must visit South Korea to experience this truly rich culture for themselves.