Posted by: Matt Kelley | 21 July 2009

Video: Han River – Banpo Park

In lieu of the Eiffel Tower or Sydney’s Opera House, Seoul city officials believe that natural landmarks can best symbolize the city. Like the taeguk, the yin-yang symbol at the center of the South Korean flag, the Han River creates harmony as it calmly bisects the massive city.

Thankfully, 12 riverside parks line the Han River. These 40 square kilometers of park lands are visited by nearly 60 million people annually, and ambitious efforts are underway to improve this already impressive network of green space in central Seoul.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 10 July 2009

Video: Gangnam Underground Shopping Arcade

Late June is typically when the jangma (장마), or monsoon season hits the Korean Peninsula. This means three weeks or more of heavy downpours, and even when it’s not raining, it’s still muggy and hot. Given these conditions, I thought it time to profile a good place that’s inside and air-conditioned.

The Gangnam Underground Shopping Arcade (강남지하상가) is located beneath the Express Bus Terminal in Seoul’s Seocho District. From the terminal you can take a bus basically anywhere in South Korea. Since three subway lines converge here, you can imagine it’s a busy place. Come here during rush hour and it’s quite a slog trying to move against the current of human bodies that’s transferring between subway lines.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 4 July 2009

Video: Pimatgol

Seoul is always changing. In what feels like just weeks an old neighborhood is razed and huge new apartment towers stand in its place. This dynamism is part of the city’s excitement. But in this relentless push forward, too many of Seoul’s most historic areas are being destroyed. One example is Pimatgol (피맛골), located in the central Jongno District.
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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 3 July 2009

Excuses…

Hi,

Sorry for the 1.5-week blogging hiatus. I’ve been filling in for a friend at the news side of KBS and haven’t had time to post. But thanks for your patience and I’ll upload a couple of video posts and even a good, ole-fashioned non-video post of a destination outside of Seoul shortly.

Best,
Matt

Posted by: Matt Kelley | 23 June 2009

Video: The Seoul of Design

When looking at the urban grit of Seoul neighborhoods, you’re forgiven if the words “good design” don’t come to mind. But seeing how quickly South Korea rebuilt after a devastating civil war, it’s not surprising that design just wasn’t a priority.

However, observing traditional Korean architecture and culture, it’s obvious that in times of peace and prosperity, pre-modern Korea honed a highly sophisticated design aesthetic. Which is why today, as a world economic power, it makes sense that South Korea is eager to recover its design legacy. In fact, Seoul’s mayor, Oh Se-hoon (오세훈) has made it one of his top priorities.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 20 June 2009

Summer Festivals Calendar

festivals

Spurred into action by Mr. Michael H.’s recent comment, here is a quick run-down of 12 summertime festivals going on around Korea. They’ll be hot and busy, but that’s what summer in Korea is all about. If you go, I’d love to hear about it!

Muju Firefly Festival (Muju, North Jeolla Province)
June 13-21
Hurry down to South Jeolla Province to see one of Korea’s natural monuments in action. The firefly is the inspiration behind this festival, which also includes trout fishing and rafting.
(more info: call +82-63-1330 or visit here [Korean only].)

3rd World Taekwondo Culture Expo (Muju, North Jeolla Province)
July 3-10
In the run up to finishing a Taekwondo Park in 2013, the city of Muju holds its expo celebrating Korea’s national sport. Events include an “extreme” Taekwondo performance, a Taekwondo musical and an open tournament. If that’s not enough, participate in making a large vat of Jeonju bibimbap for 1,000 people.
(more info: call +82-63-1330 or visit here.)

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 19 June 2009

Video: Queer Seoul


On Saturday, an estimated 1,500 people marched along the Cheonggye Stream (청계천) in downtown Seoul. The main event of the 10th annual Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF) marked South Korea’s largest-ever celebration of homosexuality. The procession was led by a troupe of pungmul folk musicians and three trucks outfitted with rainbow flags, dance platforms and speakers playing Korean pop. Locals wearing “God made Queer” buttons marched with foreign English teachers and teen boys donning mouse ears and pleated skirts.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 17 June 2009

News: Incheon Airport named World Best (again)

20090617_icn

Seoul’s Incheon Airport (ICN) has received yet more industry plaudits. This time around, the 2009 Skytrax survey of some 8.6 million passengers named Incheon the best airport in the world, edging out perennial favorites Hong Kong International and Singapore Changi International. Free internet, showers, and one-to-six hour guided sightseeing tours while you wait for your connection will do that. I’m a huge fan.

Read more:

Why can’t all airports be like Incheon?
USA Today, June 16 2009

Incheon International Airport is named the World’s Best Airport 2009
Skytrax, June 9, 2009

Posted by: Matt Kelley | 16 June 2009

Video: Seonyu Island’s Han River Renaissance

Once upon a time, Seonyu Island (also known as Seonyubong) had a small peak and picturesque, jagged cliffs. This beautiful setting inspired wandering Confucian gentleman scholars, or seonbi (선비), who came here during the Joseon Dynasty to paint and compose poetry.

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Posted by: Matt Kelley | 11 June 2009

Video: Bongwon Temple

Before Buddhism was introduced to the Korean Peninsula some 1,600 years ago, many Koreans practiced an indigenous shamanism that worshipped mountains. When Buddhism arrived, it mixed with local traditions, which is why, even today, most Korean temples are located on mountain slopes.

In 889, Bongwon Temple (봉원사) was founded by the great master Doseon on what is today the campus of Yonsei University. But in 1748 the temple was moved a few hundred meters away to the south foot of An Mountain (안산).

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