Seoul: Itaewon, Seoul Tower, and Myeongdong

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I lived in Itaewon during my time as an expat in Seoul, and I really fell in love with that neighborhood. There’s so much going on there. My friends told me that Itaewon had been undergoing significant changes since I left, and they were right. Some of the restaurants I used to frequent are no longer there, but new coffee shops and other types of international eateries abound. It truly is a dynamic part of the city.

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After we finished exploring Itaewon and had a little lunch, we hopped a bus for the ride up Mount Namsan to take in some really fantastic views of the city.

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The views are fantastic even before you head up into Seoul Tower, which is located here. At its base, there’s a popular teddy bear museum, an ice cream parlor, and one of the more unusual sights you’ll find in the city. All of the locks represent years’ worth of couples “locking” their love together and then throwing away the keys.

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The views get really impressive once you’re inside Seoul Tower. During the summer, it’s hazy more often than it’s not. But there’s nothing quite like being so high above the city.

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I haven’t written much about it on these posts, but I find Seoul’s bus system very easy to navigate. So when we were done with the tower, we hopped on a bus that took us to one of Seoul’s most popular areas: Myeongdong. Shopping, food, nightlife — this neighborhood has it. And if you’re planning on visiting Seoul anytime soon, I suggest putting this area on your “gotta visit” list. It’s busy … and frenetic … and pretty cool.

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The visit to Myeongdong was the last item on the day’s itinerary, which was our fourth full day in the city. We were still getting over jet lag and our busy pace, so my faculty colleague and I decided it would be the right time to end the day. Truthfully, several of us were so tired by the time we made it here that we holed up in the second floor of a coffee shop, enjoying some tasty drinks, free wifi and some great conversation. And air conditioning. Seoul is sweltering in June.

When we talked about just sitting in a coffee shop enjoying a good rest while all manner of activity was taking place outside, we tried to keep it in perspective. Yeah, we’re just sitting here in a coffee shop — in SEOUL. It’s not that often we all get to say that.

For the next post: touring Arirang TV and talking with journalists who report on North Korea.

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