Posted by: Matt Kelley | 10 September 2009

Video: Seoul’s Haneul or “Sky” Park

In 2002, Korea and Japan welcomed the world as joint hosts of the World Cup football tournament. Soccer stadiums were erected all across Korea. Seoul’s World Cup venue was placed at the city’s far western end in a place that many people probably wouldn’t have selected just a few years earlier.

That’s because World Cup Stadium is located next to the Nanjido Landfill, a massive disposal site that operated until 1993. Like any metropolis, Seoul produces millions of tons of garbage, and Nanjido was the nation’s largest uncontrolled landfill. But what may sound like an inauspicious place was transformed into a pretty spectacular one when nature was encouraged to reclaim the land.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 1 September 2009

Autumn Festivals Calendar


Summer may be peak festival season in Korea, but I much prefer traveling during the autumn months, when the temps fall, the leaves turn and the crowds are a little less crazy. What follows are some of Korea’s best autumn festivals. Also be sure to check out the Korea Tourism Organization’s great new interactive festival website. Go here and then look for the festivals icon on the right side.

Yeongdong Nangye Traditional Music Festival (Yeongdong, North Chungcheong Province)
September 4-9
A traditional music festival celebrating the life of Bak Yeon, one of Korea’s most important Korean traditional musicians. Since the area is also famous for its grapes, enjoy a glass of wine while taking in a performance.
(more info: call +82-43-1330 or visit here [Korean only].)

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 23 August 2009

Video: Seoul Fringe Festival 2009

(Sorry, this is a bit late… but you still have one more weekend to check out the 2009 Seoul Fringe Festival! -Matt)

During Seoul’s hot, late summer weeks, if you’re walking along the colorful streets of the Hongik University neighborhood, you may very well happen upon a seemingly impromptu performance. That’s because for the past 12 years, Seoul has hosted perhaps Asia’s largest Fringe Festival, a three-week showcase of independent and underground art installations.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 19 August 2009

Video: Tapgol Park

(Here’s another post connected with Korea’s Independence Day. -Matt)

During the summer, Korea’s national flower, the mugungwha (무궁화) or Rose of Sharon, is in bloom across the city. And each year, August 15th is celebrated as Gwangbokjeol (광복절), or Korean Independence Day. But before Korea’s liberation, millions of Koreans participated in activities to free themselves from Japan’s brutal colonialism. And perhaps the most important site in that struggle is Tapgol Park (탑골공원), in central Seoul’s Jongno District.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 17 August 2009

New Show on TBS eFM

20090817_tbsHey there!

Some of the Discovering Korea blog’s recent visitors came here by way of TBS eFM 101.3, and here’s why. Starting this past Saturday, I’m hosting a new travel segment on the Saturday edition of The Steve Hatherly Show, produced by Jin Min.

Just like my other Korea-related travel and culture shows, each week I’ll describe a new destination in Korea. But what’s different is the show’s conversational format. Originally from Canada, Steve has lived in Korea over nine years, and so far it’s been fun to talk with him on the radio about travel opportunities on this beautiful peninsula. Just like my KBS shows, I’ll cross-post content to this blog.

If you’d like to listen to my new show and you’re located in the greater Seoul area, tune into TBS eFM 101.3 MHz on Saturdays, between 14:05-16:00. The show is also available in Busan, Gwangju and elsewhere in Korea. PC-users can listen via TBS’s TOY Internet Radio – a free download is available on their site.

Finally, I’d like to incorporate listener tips and questions, so I hope you’ll send them my way. Have a great week!

Best, Matt

Posted by: Matt Kelley | 15 August 2009

Independence Hall of Korea


August 15th is Gwangbokjeol (광복절) or Korean Independence Day, which celebrates the defeat of the Japanese during WWII and Korea’s liberation after 35 years of oppressive colonial rule.

In honor of the day, let’s head to Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province to visit the Independence Hall of Korea. The extensive complex was opened to the public in 1982, and serves to collect, preserve and display a wealth of data about the Korean civilization, with a special focus on the nation’s early 20th century independence movement against Japan.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 10 August 2009

Video: Gwanghwamun Plaza

On August 1st, 2009 Seoulites welcomed their city’s newest landmark. After 15 months of renovation, Gwanghwamun Plaza (광화문 광장) is now open to the public and is sure to become a major city attraction.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 5 August 2009

Video: Seoul Metro’s New Golden Line 9

One of the best things about Seoul is its efficient and inexpensive public transit system. It’s a mind-boggling number, but the metro rail system facilitated over two billion passenger rides in 2008. Seoul’s network is the world’s third most heavily used, behind only Tokyo and Moscow.

Today, the massive system consists of 15 lines, with two more to open in the next year. On June 24, 2009, the inaugural journey of Metro Line 9 began at 7:00 am from Gaewha Station (계화역) in western Seoul for its 25.5-kilometer journey to Sinnonhyeon Station (신논현역), in southern Seoul.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 30 July 2009

New Toy: Flip Video

20090830_flipvideoPay no mind to the curious shadows, please.

Hey there,

I wanted to introduce a new device that I picked up during a quick week spent in the U.S. a couple of weeks ago. So far I’m liking my mino-HD Flip Video camcorder. The picture and sound quality is better than my previous camera, and it’s just easier to use, mostly thanks to its small size and built-in USB.

It’s not all great, however. Things get awfully blurry while panning and the zoom button can be awkward to push. Also, when editing it’s been more difficult to stabilize the video… but overall, so far so good. Now I just need to learn how to use a tripod! I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of future videos. If you have other toys to suggest, I’d like to hear about them.

Best, Matt

Posted by: Matt Kelley | 28 July 2009

Video: Seoul’s Royal Tombs

In June 2009, the United Nations’ scientific and cultural organization, UNESCO, added 40 royal tombs built over five centuries to its list of world heritage sites. The list includes nearly 900 places of cultural or physical significance located in some 148 nations.

Currently, South Korea has nine world treasures on the list, with three of them located inside Seoul. Although most of the Joseon Dynasty’s royal mausoleums are located outside the capital city, eight tombs are within the city’s limits. So to celebrate the honor, we’ll take a look at two of Seoul’s Royal Tombs.

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