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The SEM Weekly

A Little Bit of Seoul

Scott An '18, Contributor

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Americans may see Korea (The Republic of Korea) as a country always battling with North Korea or a country that has only K-pop. Some part of this could be true but it isn’t as mysterious a place as people think. After the Korean war ended in 1953, the country was in poverty but after 50 years it is a place as normal as any other. Many tourists come to Korea, more and more each year and people can look forward to a trip whether it’s K-pop or history related.

Getting around Seoul isn’t hard due to abundant transportation such as subways, buses, and taxis. Some places were full of people, dense with buildings and flashy sightseeing. On the other hand, there were some places that were under construction that had messy corners but had hidden gems to discover.

Here are some of the neighborhoods, stores, restaurants, and delicacies to try on a visit Seoul.

1.Hongdae

[In front of Hongdae St./Flickr/Michael-kay Park]

Hongdae is a downtown area with shopping, places to eat and exciting activities like room escaping and karaoke.  However, you would like to go there with an empty stomach because the main purpose of this area is to eat as much as possible, as this place is always busy and crowded with people because of its many restaurants and dessert shops (which specialize in cakes). While Korea isn’t a country specialized in cakes,  there are many places that provided almost anywhere in the country. 

Grape tart cake – A Bonny Day (Yeonnamdong)/Scott An

Although most of these restaurants tend to have good recipes and menus, this street is always a place where many stores come and go. If you ever get to know a nice place and get back later, check first if the store had moved its location to someplace else, or if it had been banished from the streets.

2.Itaewon

[Itaewon Pub street/Wikimedia/Shinae Hyun]

(left) Inside a ramen store in Itaewon (right) Authentic Turkish Bakery & Dessert Cafe / Scott An

To find diversity in this huge city, visit here. Itaewon is a place where people are able to enjoy meals from the middle east and other different countries, and buy fancy souvenirs if you’re willing to buy something to keep a memory of the moments that were in Korea. It will be easy to find something that catches attention since tourists and merchants from all around the world usually stop by at this area to buy and sell.

To know especially what to eat around this area begin with everything. Especially the ramen because usually authentic Japanese people would come over and make everything from the noodles to the ingredients. Although the price may be a bit more pricey than usual the quality is on top. This neighborhood is where to find restaurants that serve non-Korean food – from vegan pasta to meat-loaded pizza.

3.Gangnam

[Gangnam Crossroad/Flickr/TFurban]

Yes, this is the district made popular by the 2012 viral song Gangnam Style (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0). Excluding the fact that the name of the area is famous due to the song, it has long been one of the biggest, busiest parts of Seoul. This is more than a district, it’s like a gigantic mall or a small version of NYC. To see true Korean culture this is the wrong place. But, if the goal is to look around, shop, eat food that’s in the typically American comfort zone and do fun things, this is the hot spot.

A carved melon bowl 10-inch high vanilla ice-cream on top of the blueberry syrup/Scott An

Definitely, try the “bingsu” a dessert of ice flakes with syrup and other toppings like chocolate, syrup, or any type of sugary snackery on it. Gangnam is one of the districts with the most dessert shops in it and the most popular and consistently delicious item. There are places that add cheese, raisins, and fruit to it but even the bowl can be edible.

Seoul has many more places find but this should serve as a short guideline and recommendation to use as a start. Korean residential student Mikang Kim ’17 described the city invitingly. “Seoul is a big city, especially transportation is well developed. The skyscape is amazing and beautiful.”

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SEM news written by students for students, faculty, parents & alumnae
A Little Bit of Seoul