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Located across the street from City Hall, Toksugung Palace offers an easy escape from modern Seoul for a more traditional Korea. To find the entrance, look for Taehanmun Gate with its three Chinese characters.
Seoul: Taehanmun Gate at the entrance of Toksugung Palace

Korean gardens may not be very well known outside of Korea, but in terms of beauty they are second to none. The gardens take advantage of the natural beauty of its location, without requiring artificially planted vegetation or objects placed within.
Gyeongju: Gardens in Bulguksa compound

City Hall
The heart of downtown Seoul is the City Hall, surrounded by traffic on three of four sides. The public lawn in the front is one of the few recreational places in the whole of the city.
Seoul: City Hall in downtown

Korea Travel Guide
Courtesy of Life in Korea
Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Official site

Asia | N. E. Asia | South Korea

South Korea: Subtle Land

South Korea is the quiet neighbor of China and Japan. Even its multi-million cities sometimes make you feel like you've just stepped into a highrise village. But this gives you all the more relaxation to truly enjoy the subtle attractions of the country. Highlights of a visit to South Korea include the friendliness of the Korean people, ancient temples, the natural beauty of its mountains, and perhaps even a trip to the Joint Security Area on its northern border, where the Cold War is still alive. South Korea is also becoming an interesting destination culturewise, with its music, television and film industry rapidly becoming a success story across Asia and around the world.
Seoul: Guard at Namdaemun


Gyeongju: Entrance to Bulguksa Bulguksa: Buddha Land

Bulguksa (meaning Temple of the Buddha Land) is one of the architectural masterpieces of South Korea. The current temple dates back to the 8th century. It contains seven National Treasures, one of which is the lower Blue Cloud Bridge (Chong-un kyo) and the upper White Cloud Bridge (Paek-un kyo) leading up to the main entrance of the temple. Buddhists believe that one enters Buddha Land after crossing the bridges and entering the Golden Purple Gate (Jaha mun).

Busan: Beach by the City

The Busan beach of Haeundae has become the most popular one in South Korea. Though hard to tell nowadays, Haeundae's history goes 3000 years back. Its name was given during the Silla period (around the turn of the 10th century) by the philosopher and poet Choe Chiwon, whose pen name was Haeun. It gets very busy during summer and on New Year's Day, but for the rest of the year it's a pleasant place for a quiet stroll along the 1.5 km ocean shore.
Busan: Haeundae beach in late fall

Seoul: Namdaemun by day Seoul: Namdaemun by night Seoul: South Gate

Namdaemun (the Great South Gate) was once the southern gate of the walls surrounding Seoul, and dates back to the end of the 14th century. It is now the city's oldest wooden structure. It is well worth a visit at night when it is floodlighted.

Panmunjom: Tension Land

If it weren't so serious, the demilitarized zone (DMZ) could almost pass as a theme park for war. Since the North and South signed an armistice in Panmunjom village in 1953, ending the Korean War, a contigent of one million soldiers have starred eye to eye, prepared for war if necessary. Though one of the tensest areas on earth, the border itself is only marked with a small line of concrete. Inside one of the temporary blue houses in the Joint Security Area you can even cross it. Kaesong is only 10 kilometers away, while Seoul is 60 kilometers to the south.
South Korea: North meets South in the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom

Busan: Yonggungsa situated on a rock overlooking the ocean Yonggungsa: Ocean Temple

One of the main attractions of Busan is the temple of Yonggungsa, in the north-east of the city. Its motto is: "At least one of your wishes will be answered here through your heartful prayers." Unlike most other temples, which are in the mountains, Yonggungsa is situated on a big rock overlooking the ocean. It was founded in the era of King Gongmin, in the 14th century, by the great monk Naong. The temple burned down during the Japanese invation, but was rebuilt in the 1930s. It is best reached by taxi, about 20 minutes from Haeundae Beach.

With almost 4 million inhabitants, the sprawling city of Busan is South Korea's second largest city. Most of its inhabitants have settled into one of the hundreds/thousands of near-identical 15-20 storey apartment buildings which dot the city.
Busan: Highrise buildings in beach neighborhood Haeundae

Daehan Minguk

Largest city
48,846,000 (2006)
98,480 km²
Official language(s)

South Korea
676: Silla Kingdom first unified state to cover most of Korean peninsula.
935: Silla Kingdom gives way to Goryeo Dynasty.
1392-1910: Korean peninsula ruled by Joseon Dynasty.
1910-45: Annexed by Japan.
1945: Korean peninsula divided, with establishment of seperate governments in communist North and democratic South.
1950-53: Korean War, initiated by an attack from the North.

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