Seoul, South Korea (2017)
”Conscious that any visit these days could be my last, I’ve made a point on this sweaty saunter down memory lane of revisiting & photographing places & landmarks that I’ve photographed many times over the years. I’ve also gotten acquainted & photographed landmarks that weren’t even around when last I was. Dynamic Seoul – a city slogan – indeed.”
Image || Remnants of sunset as seen from the Jamsil Bridge over the Han River, Seoul. July 25 2017.
Seoul, South Korea (2017)
It’s good to be back in Seoul. It’s my first time here in two-and-a-half years, my longest hiatus from the Korean Peninsula since first visiting the so-called Land of The Morning Calm way back in late 2003. Of course there’s very little that’s calm about Seoul, one of the world’s largest metropolis and a 24/7 hectic mass of humanity that I know all too well; I called it home for many years. Conscious that any visit these days could be my last, I’ve made a point on this sweaty saunter down memory lane of revisiting & photographing places & landmarks that I’ve photographed many times over the years. I’ve also gotten acquainted & photographed landmarks that weren’t even around when last I was. Dynamic Seoul – a city slogan – indeed. And while there’s very little of Seoul – & Korea – that would surprise me these days, the city, and even after all these years, can still impress if you wander it with a camera in hand, as I tend to do when I’m anywhere other than home. Real home, that is.
Republic of (South) Korea Overview
Republic of (South) Korea
Region – East Asia (dMb tag: East Asia). Capital – Seoul. Population – 52 million. Official Language – Korean. Currency – South Korean Won (KRW). GDP (nominal) per capita – US$27,500 (26th). Political System – Presidential republic. UN Member? – Yes (admitted September 1991). G20 Member? – Yes. Size – 100,295 km² (one-fifth smaller than North Korea, its northern & only neighbour, and slightly smaller than the US state of Kentucky). Topography – Mostly mountainous; a hikers nirvana, over 70% of the country is covered in largely uninhabitable mountains. Climate – Hot & sticky summers, bitterly cold winters. Formation/Independence & Brief History – Independence from Japan, who annexed the Korean Peninsula in 1910 ending centuries of dynastic rule, on August 15, 1945, thereafter the peninsula officially divided by the US & the Soviet Union at the 38th parallel. The Republic of Korea declared on August 15, 1948, 3-plus weeks before the September 9 formation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a.k.a. North Korea. The failure of talks to unify the peninsula sparked the 1950-1953 Korean War, with the communist-led North invading the South. This ended in a military stalemate, the formation of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) and the signing of an armistice (but no peace treaty). UNESCO World Heritage sites – 12. Tourism Catchphrase/Slogans – Imagine Your Korea. Famous For – Sharing the world’s most fortified border with its troublesome & aloof northern neighbour; cosmetics; electronics (home to Samsung, the world’s largest electronics firm, & LG); internet connectivity; cars (home to Hyundai & Kia); K-pop & the Korean Wave; ajumma power; Psy’s Gangnam Style; its cuisine (kimchi & BBQ) & communal eating; soju (a clear, colourless distilled beverage liberally drank in shots); noribang (karaoke rooms); hospitality. Highlights – The buzz & palaces of Seoul, a.k.a. The Soul of Asia; Jeju Island; Gyeongju; Seoraksan National Park. South Korea Titbits – Rising from the ashes of the Korean War, a multi-decade economic surge, termed the ‘Miracle on the Han River’, means that today South Korea is the world’s sixth largest exporter (it ranks 1st in worldwide mobile phone shipments, 2nd in shipbuilding & semiconductor sales and 5th in automobile production). Not bad for a country that has been officially at war since 1950; after many failed bids, South Korea’s PyeongChang will host the 2018 Winter Olympics; pre-empting the future & echoing the wish of the South Korean populous, the country’s constitution officially recognises the Korean peninsula as one country; the world’s first country to fully transition to high-speed Internet (in 2005), today South Korea boasts the world’s fastest internet speeds; although largely insular, Korean society is truly one of a kind with its own language, script (hangul), food & culture.
Visits – Numerous (1st visit December 2003). Where I went/What I saw (selected South Korea highlights) – Seoul; Gyeongju; Jeju Island; Suwon Hwaseong Fortress; Busan; Yongin Folk Village; The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
What follows is a roughly chronological look at some of the pictorial highlights of this latest visit to a hot & steamy summertime Seoul.
A selection of some more Korean food (& drink) delights.
More Cheonggyecheon captures.
The Gwanghwamun Gategate marks the southern entrance to the palace grounds and is located at the top of Sejongno, one of the busiest & most symbolic streets in the city of Seoul. Here are a few more capture from this night in the vicinity of the gate and along Sejonjno.
More captures from moving around Seoul via the metro.
A few captures in and around the Dondaemun Design Plaza (DDP) captured over a few different visits.