Travels

Welcome Back to Korea

Right at the back of the announcements of Japan and Taiwan, South Korea announced that from 1 Oct, no PCR tests will be required pre- or post-arrival. This represents a complete reopening of the borders for Korea for tourist and business.

Namdaemun Market shopping streets

Opened in 1964, Namdaemun Market 남대문시장 is the largest traditional market in Korea with shops selling various goods. All products are sold at affordable prices and the stores in this area also function as wholesale markets. And this is a destination for most Singaporean going to Seoul.

Here’s two more less travelled locations if you have the time.

Tapgol Park 탑골공원

Tapgol Park 탑골공원

Tapgol Park, a designated Historic Site, was the first modern park to be built in Seoul. The park is located at what was originally the site of Wongaksa Temple, built during the 13th year of Joseon King Sejo’s reign. However, the temple was destroyed and the site did not become a park until 1897 due to a proposal made by Englishman John Mcleavy Brown, an advisor to King Gojong.

The park is also important for being the starting point for the March 1 Independence Movement in Seoul.

The original name of the park was Pagoda Park, but was changed to the current Tapgol Park on May 28, 1992. The park contains several monuments and heritages, including the Ten-story Stone Pagoda of Wongaksa Temple Site (National Treasure), Stele for the Construction of Daewongaksa Temple at Wongaksa Temple Site (Treasure), and Palgakjeong Pavilion, where the Independence Proclamation was first declared; the independence movement relief plate; and the statue of Son Byeong-hee.

Gwanghawmun Square

Gwanghawmun Square, with the Gyeongbokgung Palace in the background

Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul reopened on August 6, 2022. After being under construction for one year and nine months, the square has transformed into a city park. The width of the square was widened from 35 meters to 60 meters by removing a car lane, making the new square 2.1 times larger with an area of 40,300 ㎡.

King Sejong Statue 세종대왕 동상

King Sejong (r.1418-1450) is best remembered as the inventor of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. During his reign, he consolidated the basis for ruling the Joseon dynasty by incorporating Confucian philosophy into politics. Furthermore, he led the nation through great strides in agriculture, literature, science, and technology. 

Six columns with golden carvings depicting the King’s major accomplishments

In front of the statue lie a celestial globe, a rain gauge, and a sundial, all of which King Sejong invented himself during his reign. Behind the statue, there are six columns with golden carvings depicting the King’s major accomplishments, as well as an underground passage to the Story of King Sejong exhibition hall, operated by the Sejong Center. 

Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin 충무공 이순신 동상

The Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin was erected at the front of Gwanghwamun Square on April 27, 1968, in honor of the brave spirit and leadership of the Admiral. At 17 meters tall, the bronze statue stands firmly with a sword in his right hand, representing protection and patriotism. In front of the statue is a miniature turtle ship that the Admiral built, and at each front corner are two drums that were used to increase the morale of soldiers going to the battlefield.

Sejong Center

The 53-meter-long concrete wall in front of Sejong Center in Haechimadang is a vast media wall. The underground path behind the King Sejong Statue and entrance to The Story of King Sejong has a media glass installation that plays media art performances at night. 

See you in Seoul!

Visited Jan 2015

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