Maeghan missed an opportunity to visit Korea while working at Intel but she had heard from partners at Samsung how special this place is. We decided last minute to take a chance and head to Seoul for 10 days and we are both so grateful we did… move over Tokyo, Seoul may have dethroned you as our new favorite capital.
There are lots of interesting things we learned here.
- In just the last 60 years, the country went from mostly farmers and being one of the poorest countries in the world, to today one of the top 15 economic and prospering developed countries. (wow!)
- North and South Korea separated after WW2. At the Joint Security Area (JSA), the United Nations command told us that this is still an active conflict, but thing are slowly getting better towards their joint mission of finding peace.
- Plastic surgery is a really big deal here. It is very cheap and some of the best in the world so people travel from all over to get things tucked, lifted and changed.
Since January, our guide told us more than 100,000 people have gotten some sort of work done! One of the most popular procedures here is getting eye lids cut so that those of asian heritage have the appearance of bigger eyes and a double eye lid! Here is an example we pulled from a local consultation site.
4. Koreans like to drink, so you will be walking and most evenings find many businessmen who has been having a little bit too much fun and taking a nap on the street or sidewalk.
5. The city has the most awesome incorporation of old, new and green. Palaces, walls and shrines that have been destroyed multiple times through out history have been made a priority to rebuild to preserve history. They live in their traditional spots and the new incredible architecture and development is build around them. They even turn water ways into walking paths and subways systems to avoid people walking on the road and enjoy some more beautiful scenery.
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As we were walking around, we stumbled upon a street that caused us much confusion. There were US Flags, demonstrations, slam poetry, and a clear divide between the older and younger generation.
A young man who had been studying in the states came over to tell us what was happening and just as he did, an older man charged into the crowd and tried to stop the demonstrations. We got pulled into a square that was lined with Police and the man explained what was going on.
In 2014, a ferry sunk for unknown reasons and killed hundreds of young people. The president at the time was a woman who was no where to be found (turns out, she was getting some plastic surgery done) and was shortly after impeached then put in jail. The young people want answers to understand what happened as they feel information is being kept from them. In this particular square, a building was constructed as a memorial to all the lives that were lost where there are people begging for answers every day.
Now, there was a second or parallel protest happening that had to do with Trump. This one was a bit more confusing as there was support for Trump and his aggressive actions agains’t China (which the locals support), but also that the old generation feels the younger generation is acting out and by not supporting Trump, feel the young people support North Korea.
Many old men would come up to us and start yelling and assume we were American. The locals who spoke english corrected them and did their best to explain what was happening. It was an eye opening afternoon.
“Gyeongbokgung Palace was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. Built in 1395, its the largest of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon dynasty. Gyeongbokgung served as the home of Kings of the Joseon dynasty, the Kings’ households, as well as the government of Joseon.
Gyeongbokgung continued to serve as the main palace of the Joseon dynasty until the premises were destroyed by fire during the Imjin War (1592–1598) and abandoned for two centuries. However, in the 19th century, all of the palace’s 7,700 rooms were later restored under the leadership of Prince Regent Heungseon during the reign of King Gojong. Some 500 buildings were restored on a site of over 40 hectares. The architectural principles of ancient Korea were incorporated into the tradition and appearance of the Joseon royal court.
In the early 20th century, much of the palace was systematically destroyed by Imperial Japan. Since then, the walled palace complex is gradually being restored to its original form. Today, the palace is arguably regarded as being the most beautiful and grandest of all five palaces. It also houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum within the premises of the complex.” — Wikipedia
So long story short -this palace was destroyed 3 times by the Japanese and rebuilt with every thoughtful detail each time. Our guide did tell us that they used more modern tools to rebuilt, but the finished product looks the same.
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