|In Korea South’s
intoxicating capital Seoul, the old and new intertwine.
On the surface, Seoul is a thoroughly modern city dissected by the
River Han and cluttered with towering skyscrapers
and many glitzy shopping malls. It is a city driven
by the world of commerce, where the pace of life is normally exciting
and the streets seem choked with traffic. However, on closer inspection
travellers discover beautiful and ornate palaces, peaceful Buddhist
temples and wonderful gardens. It is not just the city’s architecture
that is varied, with the fast-food chains and international restaurants
co-existing alongside classical Korean establishments serving
the fiery and pungent hot kimichi. Street hawkers, selling everything
from tasty ddukbokki (rice cakes with red pepper
paste) to tailored suits and traditional dress,
are also an inherent part of the city’s fabric, as are its
pleasant tea houses and coffee shops.
Seoul’s cultural life is equally diverse, and has everything
from world-class performance art to galleries
and museums displaying the fine art and traditional works,
covering many facets of life in Korea South. It is quite usual to
stumble across traditional music or dance
performances, yet karaoke bars are every
bit as much part of the fabric of 21st-century Seoul.