Seoul has a soul that is composed of many things. Towering glass and steel buildings hover near ancient temples. Pink cherry blossoms burst in the daytime and the bright bowls of kimchi add color to nights at the bustling markets.
Come hungry; Koreans enjoy sharing food and a typical meal consists of seven or eight side dishes. Aside from its flavorful barbecue, bibimbap also put the country on the culinary map. Tiramisu takes on a twist with an infusion of matcha, turning the popular desert bright green. Try a traditional take on mealtime, remove your shoes and sit on the heated floor of a traditional restaurant. Stop into one of the cute tea houses in Bukchon, a pocket of traditional hanok homes with slanting roofs.
Seoul is a city that never sleeps. At night, the cafes and clubs buzz with patrons sipping back soju, a distilled rice beverage. In the morning you may need to sweat it all out at a jjimjilbang, traditional Korean saunas with whirlpool baths and therapeutic massage services.
Exhibitions and galleries feature not only local talent, but also international creativity. Former Korean expats are returning home, putting their stamp on the city’s aesthetics, food, and fashion culture. Traditional and contemporary arts merge in the Samsung Museum of Art.
Despite having one foot in the past, Seoul has the other firmly striding toward the future. This one of the world’s most economically powerful cities and one of the most high-tech places on the planet. The national pastime is online gaming. Internet cafes are full of young Koreans who do this for a living, and even have fans. The residents of Seoul are a charismatic bunch whose fashion-sense is influenced by the K-pop music stars. Their beats are catchy, and so are their outfits and dance routines. Shop in style at mega-malls and boutiques to take their style home with you.
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