Tag Archives: Gangnam

A Walk Among the Joseon Dynasty Royal Tombs

When I went to the National Museum of Korea last month, I remember reading about some of the excavation sites at the Goryeo Dynasty royal tombs in Gaeseong. Of course, because they had artifacts from those excavations on display. I saw a photo of these huge grassy mounds, and my guide kept telling me I needed to go see them in person.

It turns out, most of the 40 Joseon Dynasty royal tombs are located within 40 km of Gyeongbokgung Palace in the heart of Seoul. Nice! I didn’t know I had royal tombs so nearby.  So, I decided to visit the Seolleung and Jeongneung Royal Tomb site in Gangnam. I knew the grass wouldn’t be green yet — it is still March, and cold — but, why wait? I have so many things on my to-do list for when the weather warms up and trees and flowers bloom. Better check this one off my list now.

The Seolleung and Jeongneung Royal Tomb site (and all Joseon-era royal tombs, in fact) is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, like many of the palaces in Seoul.

It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site

Fascinatingly enough, the entire lineage of the Joseon kingdom from 1392 to 1910 is accounted for among the tombs. This particular site in Gangnam houses the royal tombs of King Seongjong (9th ruler,1457-1494), his third wife Queen Jeonghyeon (1462-1530), and King Jungjong (11th ruler, 1488-1544). Continue reading A Walk Among the Joseon Dynasty Royal Tombs

The Skies and Seas of 63 Building

Happy March, everyone!

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. It’s mainly because I finally reached my 3GB storage limit on WordPress, so I had to find another way to still be able to share all my photos with you. Kind of a pain…but I’ll save that for perhaps another blog post.

Now, to the 63 Building. It’s basically a skyscraper across the Han River that has an observation deck on the 60th floor with some great, 360-degree views of Seoul. It has a few other hidden gems, too. For example, the observation deck doubles as an art gallery called “63 Sky Art.” They’re currently exhibiting “Cinderella,” (through Mar. 22), which is split into four parts or themes: Mouse, Pumpkin, Clock and Shoes. Pretty interesting, if you like art at all. 🙂 There’s a nice cafe on that floor if you want to sit and enjoy the views for a while.

63 Building Continue reading The Skies and Seas of 63 Building

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

The dainty Garosu-gil Street

The other day my friend took me across the river into Gangnam for lunch at Garosu-gil Street in Sinsa-dong.

Not sure how to best describe Garosu-gil. It’s like a small version of Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, or like Abbot Kinney in Venice. Clean, pretty, pedestrian friendly. It spans just several blocks, but if you explore the side streets you’ll find many cute shops, cafes, dessert places, lots of eateries (pizza, Japanese food, tacos, Spanish food, you name it), nail and hair salons, skin care product shops, and more. The main street is known for the ginkgo trees that line it.

From the minute you exit the Sinsa subway station (exit 8), you start spotting plastic surgery clinics. And nicer cars. In my two short trips there, I’ve seen a Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini and a group of nice Harleys rollin’ down Garosu-gil.

My friend and I had lunch at Vatos Urban Tacos, founded by some guys out of SoCal (they have another location in Itaewon). Continue reading The dainty Garosu-gil Street

Shopping and Worshipping, Gangnam Style

The other day, we headed south across the Hangang River into — gasp — Gangnam.

Gangnam Style!
Gangnam Style!

We visited the Coex Mall in Samseong-dong, apparently the largest underground shopping mall in Asia. Woah. It’s located at the World Trade Center Seoul complex and just days ago had a big re-opening after some remodeling, so many of the stores are new and offering all kinds of promotions and free goodies (mainly free balloons for the kiddos). In addition to tons of stores, many of them high-end, restaurants and a fancy food court, at Coex you’ll find the Coex Megabox Cineplex (16 screens) and the Coex Aquarium. You can also visit the Hyundai Department Store which is adjacent, and the Buddhist temple of Bongeunsa, just across the Word Trade Center complex.

It’s a beautiful mall. Unfortunately, some work came up while we were there, so we only got to walk around part of the mall, but we did make it to the movie theater to see “Exodus” (snoozer), checked out the Hyundai Department Store and enjoyed some familiar, live, Christmas tunes: Continue reading Shopping and Worshipping, Gangnam Style