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Seoul, Korea

The Korean Peninsula is located in North-East Asia. It is bordered by the Amnok River (Yalu River) to the northwest, separating Korea from China, and the Duman River (Tumen River) to the northeast which separates Korea from both China and Russia. The country itself is flanked by the Yellow Sea to its west and the East Sea to the east. There are several notable islands that surround the peninsula including Jejudo, Ulleungdo and Dokdo. The Korean peninsula is roughly 1,030 km (612 miles) long and 175 km (105 miles) wide at its narrowest point. Korea's total land area is 100,033 sq km, and it has a population of 49.8 million people (2011). Because of its unique geographical location, Korea is a very valuable piece of land and an international hub of Asia.

About Korea

Seoul, Korea

  • Location
  • Climate
  • Food
  • Tourism

Seoul, the Gateway to Asia and Europe

The Korean Peninsula lies in the center of Northeast Asia. The coordinates of its capital, Seoul, are 37.34°N and 126.59° E, putting it in close proximity to the Yellow Sea. Seoul is within a three-hour flight from 43 cities with populations of over one million people. Korea's location between China and Japan has been a great geographical advantage for the nation.
The Hangang (River) flows horizontally across Seoul, dividing the city into two sections lying north and south of the river.

There are 25 autonomous districts and 424 administrative "dong units in Seoul. The city covers 0.28% of the entire peninsula (or 0.61% of South Korea), and spans an area 30.30 km north-to-south and 34.78 km west-to-east.
Image copyright © Seoul Metropolitan Government. All right reserved (http://english.seoul.go.kr)
Like the rest of Korea, Seoul has four distinct seasons, which means the landscape changes considerably throughout the year. This unique climate is deeply embedded within Korea's cultural fabric.

Spring in Seoul

Seoul's average temperature is 12.2 degrees Celsius, and spring begins around March, when the entire city bursts into flowers. Many Seoulites enjoy strolling around Yeouido or other green spaces throughout the city that are filled with a dizzying display of cherry blossoms, forsythias, azaleas, and magnolias. This is the season when the temperature drops sharply after nightfall. Those planning to visit Seoul at this time must remember to pack suitable clothing. A pair of sunglasses and a mask to keep you from inhaling the yellow dust that is carried over from China during the spring are essential. The atmosphere can be extremely dry, so take extra care if you have sensitive skin or a sore throat.

Summer in Seoul

Seoul's long, hot, and humid summer is only interrupted by sporadic monsoon rains in June and July. If you find Seoul somewhat quiet during this period, that's because many Koreans go on vacation at this time of year. You will also find people gathered around the water fountain in front of Gwanghwamun Square or under a bridge along the Hangang (River). Banpodaegyo (Bridge) is a popular spot that offers a fantastic view of the city.

Fall in Seoul

Seoul's pleasant autumn season lasts from September to November. Seoul is filled with bright autumnal colors at this time of year. It is the harvest season, which is celebrated by showing thanks to the ancestral deities and spirits. It is also the season in which people prepare for the imminent winter. The Hi! Seoul Festival, one of Seoul's most notable events, takes place in autumn. Changgyeonggung and Gyeongbokgung Palaces are open until later in the evening during this period. It's worth visiting the city at night to see the hundreds of lanterns hanging above the streets during the Lantem Festival.

Winter in Seoul

Due to the strong influence of icy air from the North, winter is quite cold in Seoul. This is when public areas all over Seoul open skating rinks. The days become markedly shorter, and you will see Seoulites busily going about their business wrapped up against the cold under myriad flashy neon lights.

Seoul's average temperature and rainfall by month (unit °C,mm)

Month 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Year
Temperature -2.4 0.4 5.7 12.5 17.8 22.2 24.9 25.7 21.2 14.8 7.2 0.4 12.5
Rainfall 20.8 25.0 47.2 645 105.9 133.2 394.7 364.2 169.3 51.8 52.5 21.5 1,450.5
Image copyright © Seoul Tourism Organization. All right reserved (http://www.visitseoul.net/en/index.do?_method=main)
Seoul's food does wonders in attracting people to the city. Whatever you have, wherever you are, the food will never fail to satisfy you. From fine dining to casual street food, you will find traditional Korean food, a variety of western cuisine, and fusion cuisine served all throughout the city at restaurants that make you feel like eating at home.

Korean Cuisine

Korean cuisine uses lots of fresh ingredients to create diverse flavors and nutritious, healthy meals and is well-received by foreigners. The food in Korea is relatively cheap but high in quality, and one can find restaurants running late into the night and even ones open 24-hours. The majority of tourists find Korean cuisine suitable to their tastes, and dining out is frequent even among Seoulites.
Grilled Meat
Galbi and bulgogi are among the most popular and most traditional Korean dishes. Cooking the meat with everyone sitting around the table and eating it right away can be a fascinating experience.
Stews/Soups (JjigaelTang)
The way to make Korean stew/soup is put salt and other spices into water and have these flavors seep into the ingredients. There are numerous types of stews/soups such as kimchi-jigae, doenjang-jjigae (bean paste stew), soondubu-jjigae (tofu stew), samgyetang (chicken soup), seolleong-tang (beef soup), haemultang (seafood soup), and many more.
Rice
Almost all Korean food is served with rice. Rice is normally served in a small bowl and can be mixed with other types of grains. Popular rice menus are bibimbab (rice mixed with vegetables and meat), ssambab (putting rice in lettuce wraps with side dishes), bokeumbab (fried rice), kimbab (rice wrapped in dried laver with vegetables/meat) and juk (hot rice porridge made with meats or vegetables).
Side Dishes
A variety of side dishes are served with rice in Korea. Among them, kimchi is the most famous. You are bound to find kimchi on any table set with Korean dishes.
Noodles
Korean dishes have a variety of noodle dishes made from wheat, beans, rice and other ingredients. Kalguksu (wheat noodles with chicken or seafood), naengmyun (buckwheat noodles served cold with beef and radish), and ramen (instant noodles, sometimes added to different soups and often spicy) are among the most popular.
Street Food
Where ever in the streets of the city, you will find food sold at portable stalls. The most beloved snacks are tteok-bokki (rice cakes in red pepper sauce), soondae (noodles in pig/cow intestines), twigim (deep fried vegetables and meats), mandu (dumplings filled with kimchi, vegetables or meat), hotteok (fried pancakes filled with honey), and toast (fried egg sandwiches with meat and vegetables).

Various Foods of the World

As an international metropolis, Seoul offers a variety of cuisines from around the world. Itaewon Tourist District is the most exotic place in Seoul and you can find restaurants and cultures of numerous countries. Coex Mall, Jongro and the streets of Gangnam are also popular areas to enjoy international foods. In Seoul alone there are more than 7,000 Italian restaurants, and numerous Chinese and Japanese restaurants.
Image copyright © Seoul Tourism Organization. All right reserved (http://www.visitseoul.net/en/index.do?_method=main)
Seoul is a city that embraces the beauty of both tradition and modernity. With five ancient palaces and five World Heritage Sites designated by UNESCO, Seoul is living history of 600 years as the capital of the Chooseon Dynasty. You can experience how life was like in the past at hanokvillages (traditional Korean houses), learn to make kimchi and traditional handicrafts, learn taekwondo, try making makgeolli (Korean rice wine), and try a temple stay. Many exciting and unique experiences await you in Seoul.

A Peek into Korean Culture

The streets of Insadong, the medicinal herbs market and various traditional markets will present a different type of fun and excitement.

Korea's Palace: Gyeongbokgung Palace

Built in 1395, the location of the palace was determined based on the principles of feng shui, having Mt. Bukaksan to the back and Yukio Street to the front along with Gwanghwamun (gate). Further to the front stands Mt. Namsan and the Cheonggyecheon Stream flows through the area, making the location the best spot in terms of feng shui. Perhaps it was indeed because of the auspiciousness of the location, but the choseon Dynasty reigned for more than 600 years.

Experiencing Korea: Making kimchi

Kimchi is a basic side dish for Korean food. Become familiar with this globally popular dish by experience learning how to make kimchi and learning about its nutrition and history.

Traditional Culture Tour Course

The course goes around the traditional cultural sites of Seoul. Choose from half day, 1-day, or 2-day courses to suit your schedule.
Image copyright © Seoul Tourism Organization. All right reserved (http://www.visitseoul.net/en/index.do?_method=main)
For more information, please refer to The Official Travel Guide to Seoul. Click here
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