Seoul is known for its amazing food and awesome internet but one thing that really took my breath away when we visited Seoul was the stunning architecture, both old and new. From the futuristic Dongdaemun Plaza to the eight gates of Seoul, Seoul is a fantastic place to visit if you love architecture and rich history.
Ewha Womans University
After we visited the Bauhouse Dog cafe, we headed to Ewha Womans University to look for some lunch and check out the famous university. This university was founded in 1886 by a missionary called Mary F Scranton, who believe all women deserved the right to an education, which was pretty progressive at the time. You can read more about the history of the university (super interesting!) on their website.
The design of the university is amazing. Even though the university has ultra modern and old, almost gothic elements meshed together, it somehow really works.
After our quick tour of the university, we explored some of the streets in Ewha, and stumbled across this tiny Japanese ramen bar. There was no english on the menu but the guy working there knew some english and helped us translate it.
Both Liam and I ordered the spicy ramen, but they gave me extra egg because I didn’t eat pork and gave Liam my extra pork. So generous!
The ramen was perfect, just what we needed after fawning over dogs all day. It was spicy and packed with flavour. I felt very nourished after it!
One of the things I miss most about Seoul is heading to the Namdaemun market in the morning to grab some kimchi buns from our favourite bun place and some japchae hotteok.
On our way to meet up with Liam’s friend Jaewon, we passed through the market and spotted a giant gate in the middle of the road. After some research we found out it is the Sungnyemun Gate, which means Gate of Exalted Ceremonies. According to Wikipedia, the gate was used to greet important foreign people, restrict access into the capital city and “keep out Siberian Tigers”. Cool.
We were comparing the gates to the Angkar Wat in Cambodia, wondering how the gate is still in such great condition. Apparently there was a 2008 arson attack on gate, which meant it needed to go through some restorations, but even before then, it went through some intense damage due to the Korean War and had to be repaired.
It’s a pretty epic gate (as you can see in the pictures below), and there are a couple around Seoul. We saw one on our last day but it was gated off from the public so we couldn’t visit it.
After our brief detour, we walked to Seoul Station. One of the best things about Seoul is it’s pretty easy to walk everywhere if you don’t want to use their awesome subway. I can’t remember how long it took us to walk from Namdaemun market to Seoul station, but it was a quick walk.
Once there, we met up with Liam’s pal Jaewon and he took us to an awesome Tibetan restaurant, where I had the best lassi and naan bread of my life! It was a really lovely lunch, and afterwards Jaewon showed us around the city before he headed home.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
We headed to Dongdaemun a few times to get our (OK, my) fashion fix. The design plaza left us awestruck. It is such a cool futuristic looking building with all these curves and perspectives. You could plonk you camera anywhere and still take a badass shot. The design plaza was only completed in March 2014 and was designed by award-winning Iraqi British architect Zaha Hadid in partnership with Samoo, an architecture and engineering service in Korea. I heard a story about its history but I can’t find it anywhere on the web so I don’t want to write it in case I get any details wrong.
This structure is really unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Australia. It really uses space in a very innovative way, and moulds itself very comfortably in such a dense area.
After our short tour of the plaza, we headed back to the museum of modern and contemporary art to meet up with Liam’s new friends Yesong and Kyle, and their son Shawn. We had a great chat at the cafe and decided to have a kick ass dinner in one of the restaurants in a tight alleyway.
Again, everything on the menu was in Korean, so Yesong and Kyle helped translate it.
Guys, it was here that I had the best kimchi of my life. It was so good, so perfectly balanced in acidity and salt. I could not stop eating it. Liam ordered a kimchi stew which he LOVED and I ordered a seafood broth with slices of noodle dough. Mine was nice, but I was having some intense food envy because Liam couldn’t get over how good his stew was.
We also had Makgeolli, which is a fermented rice drink, served in a giant pot. We even drank out of bowls, which is so cool. I remember seeing photos of my great grandfather drinking liquor by the bowl. I didn’t like makgeolli the first time I had it but it definitely grew on me. It looks like asian soy milk but it tastes nothing like it. It’s a bit acidic, with a slight boozy buzz.
So there you have it, a quick recap of the cool architecture in Seoul. Hope you’ve been enjoying my Seoul posts. For more of my posts on Seoul, check out the links below: