Tag Archives: Books

The hidden hangouts of Seoul City Hall

I’ve been curious to visit the new Seoul City Hall building since I first saw it. Its striking wave-like glass design makes you wonder what kind of modernities you might find inside. Here’s a picture from a previous post in case you’ve forgotten:

The new Seoul City Hall. It's the glass building in the rear that looks like a wave. The former city hall in front is now the Seoul Metropolitan Library.
The new Seoul City Hall. It’s the glass building in the rear that looks like a wave. The former city hall in front is now the Seoul Metropolitan Library.

Little did I know, you actually can go on a self-guided tour of new (and old) City Hall — they make it easy by providing small booklets that guide you step-by-step through the various things to see. I was just looking for a place to grab a drink and do some work, so that was a pleasant surprise.

A bit of background before I take you on part of the tour. The new City Hall opened not that long ago in 2012. It has 13 floors above ground and five floors underground, and is designed to be eco-friendly, of course.The former City Hall, which sits in front of it, was turned into the Seoul Metropolitan Library. Continue reading The hidden hangouts of Seoul City Hall

History, Art & Books

I’ve been doing so much walking the past few days, that I’m kicking back and relaxing today. Not that sightseeing is SO tedious, but, you know, hurts the feet.

On Tuesday I went to see Deoksugung Palace, located right across Seoul City Hall. I knew they do changing of the royal guard ceremony several times a day at the main gate, and luckily I arrived just in time:

I bought a “combination ticket,” basically a small booklet with admission tickets for four nearby palaces (Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung) and the Jongmyo Shrine. It cost 10,000 won, or about $9. Pretty good deal. They don’t show on the price board that they even sell this combination ticket, but I’d read about it online and just asked at the ticket window.

The fall foliage really made this place extra lovely. The palace was originally built in the 15th century as the home of a prince. There are signs throughout the grounds explaining its history, though most tourists didn’t bother to read them. From what I’ve seen so far, most of these palace structures are similar in design — vibrant colors, ornate thrones — and have multiple large “gates.” The only downside is the many tourists. But hey, I had my first encounter with an Asian lady wanting to take her photo with me here! Then later, another older Asian man started talking to me in English and offered to take my photo. It’s begun! Either way, it was nice to stroll through the palace grounds. There’s also a museum inside the palace, an annex of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, but I didn’t go in because you had to have a prior reservation.

I’d read online that many people like to go for walks along the outside of the palace wall, so I ventured that way. There were various local artisans set up along the wall, selling things like stylish, patterned face masks (the kind people wear to avoid getting/giving the flu). It was starting to get pretty chilly, so when I came up on the Seoul Museum of Art, I decided to go inside and warm up a bit. Continue reading History, Art & Books