41. Folk Dance

Korea: Insadong, Seoul

The dances here often showcase the hanbok; Korea’s traditional dress. However, you may also get the chance to see other performances. This group burst out singing, dancing and playing drums into the streets of Insadong. I think this dance stems from the folk villages and holds its roots in farming culture. Whilst the hanbok is elegant, this outfit is more in your face. I loved how happy this lady looked wearing her colourful pom-pom hat.

Advertisements

37. Bukchon Hanok Village

Korea: Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul

Hanoks are traditional Korean housing. Whilst here, you can stay in one of these beautiful buildings and truly step back in time by wearing a hanbok (traditional Korean dress). Bukchon is in the cultural centre of Seoul, surrounded by Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palace. But, you don’t have to stray too far to see the modern side of Seoul. From inside the village I managed to catch a glimpse of Namsan Tower.

31. Gyeongbokgung subway

Korea: Gyeongbokgung subway, Seoul

I went to Seoul for the weekend and took a trip out of the city to Pyeongchang to do water rafting. When we returned, the bus dropped us off right next to Gyeongbokgung palace. I’ve been a few times but never checked it out at night. What we didn’t realise is we were extremely lucky to come at this time. For only a few days there was an incredible light show projected onto the palace. Created by different artists each segment presented its own artistic flare on Korean culture. It was only open to foreigners (we just happened to have our passports on us) and to Koreans wearing hanboks. Sometimes experiences where you just happen to be in the right place at the right time are the most fun. This photo was taken in Gyeongbokgung station after the show. I really like how they’ve dressed up this door with a bit of history. Just to remind you, you’ve arrived at Seoul’s most well known historical site.

 

13. Kukkiwon

Korea: Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Headquarters), Seoul

I first became familiar with Korea through Taekwondo. I won’t harp on too much but if you do happen to care how I ended up in this wonderful country you can find out here.
Returning to Kukkiwon was really nostalgic and the headquarters felt a lot smaller than how my 13 year old self had remembered. For any taekwondo enthusiast, Kukkiwon is an exciting place to visit. At home, taekwondo is growing but in Korea, everyone seems to do it, so its really great to see where the sport actually authorizes your black belt certification.

This time, I took my boyfriend, Dave for his first taekwondo lesson. The lesson was 20,000 won and you got given a dobok (taekwondo suit) and white belt engraved with your name on. No better place to start. Here’s Dave just before we watched the Kukkiwon Demonstration team. Those guys kick ass.

 

12. Gyeongbokgung

Korea: Gyeongbokgung, Seoul

It has been a difficult week so I apologise for my late entry. Instead I will be posting two black and white photos this week. Better late than never right? This one was from my visit to Seoul only a couple of weeks ago. Gyeongbokgung is at the top of every Seoul guide’s list. This palace is pretty impressive and the day we visited was a national holiday. This meant we got free entry to different parts of the palace and whilst we were there, a ceremony of some sorts was happening.

 

Postcards from Seoul

Seoul, South Korea

This is now my fifth visit to Korea’s capital. Seoul has never really been up there for me with other capitals such as Tokyo or London for example. However, this time round I really enjoyed it and got a better feel for the place. There is something more than Seoul just being a big city with Korean people. I can imagine now that if you lived here you would know the best places to go and really get the most out of it. There’s probably a lot more to Seoul than what I had first thought.

If you want the quick version of this trip check out my Youtube video:
Seoul in 2 minutes

Day 1
1. Gyeongbokgung
Gyeongbokgung (quite a mouthful, I know) is the daddy of all palaces in Seoul. If you want to catch hanboks with an amazing backdrop, this is the place to go. We went on a national holiday so all of the areas were free, including a beautiful view of a small temple with a pond, bridge, complete with heron. #asia

2. King Sejong
Very close to Gyeongbokgung stands a statue of King Sejong. You may be wondering who is this Sejong? Well, this guy invented Hangeul- the Korean alphabet. Apart from ruling the country he was obviously quite a clever chap so we paid him a quick visit to get a few pictures.

3. Insadong
Whether you’re looking for a really special gift or a tacky souvenir, Insadong is the place for you. This area is really artsy and has some really great shops, cafe’s and little quirky odd bits which you could only find in Korea. Head to the rectangular shopping area which is home to the ‘poo cafe’ or grab yourself some poo bread. Yes, you heard that right but don’t worry, whilst Korea has some head-turning food, this is just chocolate bread in the shape of a dookie.

4. Kukkiwon
Kukkiwon is the World Taekwondo Headquarters. I came here on my first visit and so it was really nostalgic to go back. This time we took part in a Taekwondo Experience Program which is a one hour lesson. It was my boyfriend’s first time doing taekwondo (I’m trying to get him to ditch cricket for the better sport). This was the highlight of this trip. Training at Kukkiwon is a once in a lifetime opportunity for any taekwondo enthusiast and if you’re a beginner you get given a dobok (taekwondo suit) and white belt with your name engraved on it. It’s all included in the lesson fee which is 20,000 won. Such a bargain.
After the lesson, we watched the Kukkiwon Demonstration Team who were absolutely flawless. These guys are the best of the best when it comes to showing the flashiest parts of the sport. Their set included poomsae (traditional set of movements) and plenty of board breaks. If you take part in the lesson you can also get the chance, should you be brave enough, to break a board with one of the experts.
Day 2
This day we were meant to go to Namhi Island, a destination which is well know for Korean dramas. However, my health and the ridiculous weather changed our plans. So, what should you do on a rainy day in Seoul?

1. COEX Mall
COEX Mall is huge. It has a lot of Korea’s high street cosmetic stores but also some up-market pricier stores. The cinema here is also amazing! We shopped for a little bit and then took in a movie at the Megabox screen.

2. Dongdaemun Design Plaza
This place was a really great surprise last time we went. The place is full of cool stores all in one super modern funky space. If you’re into K-POP there is also a very unique store selling a ton of merchandise with everything related to your favourite artists.

I was really sick this day so our itinerary was very short. boo

Day 3
1. Raccoon Cafe
In Korea, animal cafes are pretty common. Cat and dog cafes are everywhere but more recently it seems Korea are getting even more bizarre with their choice of animals. One of Seoul’s more peculiar ones is the raccoon cafe. We went to one called ‘Blind Alley.’ I still don’t quite know how I feel about them. There were only two of them but the area seemed clean and they are super cute.

2. Gwangjang Market
Seoul is home to many a market. Gwangjang, the food market, is without doubt the most atmospheric and chaotic one I’ve visited here. It’s exactly how I imagined it. Stalls upon stalls of Korean street food. It’s all very casual and a great way to try a range of Korean nosh. We opted for jok-bal (pig’s feet) which I have to say was much fattier than in a restaurant. If you’re brave enough there is octopus and plenty of things to keep you interested.

3. Lantern Festival
This was the perfect way to finish our trip to Seoul. It’s Buddha’s birthday coming up very soon and this parade lit the street with all things Korean. Lanterns, hanboks, monks, baby monks and dragons. It lit up everything traditional that I love about Korea and celebrations like this always make me realise how special and different it is to be here.