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Life in seoul
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Located at 126 59' E and 37 34' N, Seoul is at the heart of the Korean Peninsula. The city is nearly equidistant from the southeastern port of Busan and the northwestern town of Sinuiju on the China-North Korea border. The city is also conveniently located in the middle of several major northeast Asian metropolises including Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei.

Seoul sits in a natural basin. Surrounding the city are a number of peaks that are 500 meters or more above sea level. These peaks have historically played the role of a natural fortress, providing the city with protection from invasion. In fact, the mountains were a key reason behind the location's selection as the national capital.

The Han River bisects the city from east to west, flowing in a broad "W" pattern. In the olden days, the river was home to flourishing river ports at Mapo and Ttukseom, and ferry terminals at Noryangjin, Yanghwado, Hannamdo, Songpado and Gwangnaru. However, with the development of overland transportation and the construction of non-retractable bridges across the river, the city's ports and ferries have disappeared.

Meanwhile, silting along the lower reaches of the Han River has created a number of "islands", including Hajungdo and Jamsil, which are now home to massive apartment complexes and residential districts. Another of these islands, Yeouido, has become the 'Manhattan of Seoul' and home to some of the city's tallest skyscrapers, the National Assembly and many of the city's major financial institutions.

The Han River also plays a vital sociological role, separating the city into Gangbuk (meaning "north of the river") area (the older part of Seoul, home to most of the town's historic neighborhoods and sites, as well as its administrative complexes) and Gangnam ("south of the river") area (a relatively recently developed region of affluent neighborhoods that in many ways represent the "Han River Miracle", Korea's dramatically successful post-Korean War period of economic development).

Besides the Han River, Seoul also has a number of large streams that have played a vital role in the city's historic and cultural development. Among these streams are Cheonggyecheon, a downtown waterway that has recently been restored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government to provide Seoul residents with an environmentally friendly recreational spot, and Jungnangcheon, a tributary of the Han that’s a popular spot for strolls and relaxation.


Like the rest of Korea, Seoul experiences four distinct seasons. Summers can be hot and humid, while winters are often frigid and accompanied by snow. The autumn is considered particularly beautiful, when the high Korean sky is a crisp blue and Seoul’s surrounding hillsides turn a radiant red as the maple leaves change color. In the downtown area, the yellow leaves of the ginkgo trees bathe the city in a sea of gold.

Summer in Seoul

Summertime in Korea is usually hot and humid. Every year East-Asia experiences a rainy season known as Jangma (장마) in Korean. It rains on and off typically between July and August so make sure to have an umbrella on you!

There are many ways to beat the heat of a Korean Summer. Patbingsu (팥빙수) is a favorite frozen treat that can shake of any excess of heat. It usually consists of shaved ice, sweet red bean, fruit and sometimes ice cream. Of course there are many variations.

Another famous cold dish for the summer is Naengmyun (냉면). Simple yet refreshingly delicious, it is comprised of thin, slightly chewy buckwheat noodles topped with egg, meat and vegetables, in a savory, vinegary ice-cold broth.


High speed internet has rapidly spread across Korea, one of the world’s most internet savvy countries. High speed internet services are available in almost all homes. There are four major companies offering high speed internet services: KT Megapass, LG Powercom, Hanafos and SK Broadband.

Most Korean households are wired and make daily use of the Internet. The demand for the internet has generated so-called PC Bangs “or personal computer rooms”, which are readily available in almost every major city or town nationwide. These computer-access rooms also often include the words “cyber”, “net”, or “Internet plaza” in their names.

These neighborhood computer rooms offer basic internet access and basic computer software services, like Microsoft Word, at a reasonable rate.User fees range from 1,000 won to 1,500 won an hour. Sometimes they can be cheaper during the evenings.


Sinchon (신촌)

Sinchon, where Sogang is located, is known as the University District of Seoul. In addition to Sogang, other major Universities including Yonsei, Ewha and Hongik are all found in the surrounding area. Because of the International Studies programs most of these schools offer, Sinchon has become a hotspot for both Koreans and foreigners to converge on. The area is also famous for its shopping and nightlife. It is jam-packed with restaurants, bars, cafes, and clothing stores that cater to Korea’s youth. Also found in Sinchon is the Hyundai Department Store along with a Megabox movie theater.


Where to shop?

Myeongdong (명동)

Located near Namsan, Myeongdong is one of the busiest shopping districts in Seoul. Here you can find a lot of brand name stores alongside independently owned shops. Myeongdong is also famous for its abundance in delicious street food. It is located on subway line #4.

Edae (이대)

Edae refers to the area located in front of Ewha Woman’s University near Sinchon. Here you can get lost in a maze of alleys bustling with small shops selling affordably stylish clothing, shoes, bags and trinkets. Although most of the shops focus toward women, there are also many menswear stores. A great number of hair and nail salons can be found in the area as well as cute cafes and restaurants. Edae station is one stop away from Sinchon on line #2.


Coex Mall (코엑스몰)

Coex Mall is the largest underground shopping center in Asia. Located in the south in the district of Gangnam, there are many attractions to be found there other than just shopping. The Game Champ video arcade has 100 of the latest game devices, while the Megabox Cineplex has 16 theaters screening a wide selection of movies. Other popular attractions include the COEX Aquarium, with its water tunnel, and the Kimchi Museum, where visitors can learn everything they need to know about Korea’s staple-food, and even sample some of it. Just try not to get lost! Coex is located at Samseung station on line #2.



Itaewon (이태원)

Itaewon is a unique place in Seoul where one can meet people of diverse cultures and nationalities. It is known as a destination for internationals to enjoy a mix of culture, shopping, and entertainment experiences. In recent years, the street that sits behind the Hamilton Hotel near the station has exploded with new, trendy restaurants and pubs. One can find almost any type of ethnic food in Itaewon from Bulgarian to Thai to African to burgers and fries. Itaewon station is located on subway line #6

Hongdae (홍대)

Hongdae is the name for the area that sits in front of Hongik University. Hongdae is famous for its vibrant nightlife and artistic vibe. Because the university is well-known for its Fine Arts education, the area around it is filled with independently owned shops, bars, clubs and restaurants that cater to Korea’s art and indie music scene. Hongdae is also a great place to shop and explore during the daytime. Hongdae is located just one stop away from Sinchon on line #2.

Gangnam (강남)

Recently immortalized by Korea’s golden-child, PSY, Gangnam is one of the most affluent and busiest districts in Seoul. There are many different areas within Gangnam that are popular places to hang out. Apgujeong-dong (압구정동) and Garosu-gil (가로수길) among them, contain upscale department stores, shops, designer boutiques, private educations, cafes and restaurants. Apgujeong in particular is Seoul's luxury fashion mecca. And in the center of the Apgujeong’s fashion world is Rodeo Street, which takes after its famous Beverly Hill’s counterpart. Other attractions can be experienced in the area around Gangnam station, which is found on subway line #2.



Cheonggyecheon Stream (청계천)

Historically named Gaecheon ("open stream"), this stream was first constructed during the Joseon Dynasty in order to create a drainage system for the city. It was then covered up by an overpass after the Korean War. Recently restored in 2005, Cheonggyecheon has become a popular spot for Seoul residents and tourists to visit. During the summer, it is an ideal spot to cool off and relax. The Stream passes close to Deoksugung Palace, Seoul Plaza, the Sejong Center, Insa-dong Street, Changdeokgung Palace, and Changgyeonggung Palace, allowing visitors to easily visit major tourist sites after a leisurely stroll along the stream.


Han River Park (한강공원)

Another popular spot to cool off in summertime is the enormous park system along the Han River. The park is divided into 12 districts but the most popular are in Yeouido and Ttukseom. During the springtime, Yeouido is famous for its beautiful cherry-blossom displays. In the summertime, you can rent bicycles and ride along the river or splash around in one of the many fountains. The island of Yeouido is where all the major TV Studios are located so many dramas are filmed in the park. Ttukseom Park is known as the windsurfing and water-skiing mecca. You can experience all sorts of leisure sports here.
Traditional Sites


Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)

The main palace of the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeongbokgung is located in the north of Seoul near Jongno. First constructed in 1395 by King Taejo, it was later burned and left abandoned for almost 3 centuries. Since 1867 it has undergone reconstruction and restorations and is still to this day. It is located on subway line #3.




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