S(E)OUL SEARCHING

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
— Marcel Proust

As much as I relish the thought of traveling around the globe & exploring new places, I’m not one of those who are blessed with opportunities travel out of Singapore, unfortunately, due to various (financial, mainly) reasons. Close to a year into my first job after graduation, I’ve decided to take the leap — & after much deliberation, planning & starving saving up, to Korea I decided to fly. 

Armed with a light luggage (after hearing much about the “oh-so-heavenly” shopping spots in Korea), a massive things to-do’s & places to-go’s checklist & an open mind, I headed to Seoul, Korea for the first time!

 The view from the rooftop of our home (Aram’s home actually, whose hospitality was so remarkable that it felt as if we were indeed at home!) in Hapjeong (합정)

The view from the rooftop of our home (Aram’s home actually, whose hospitality was so remarkable that it felt as if we were indeed at home!) in Hapjeong (합정)

Looking back, I feel that there was so much more that I wanted to do, that I did not manage to within that single trip. Which would be the main reason why I would want go to Korea again — to be able to observe & explore Korea with a pair of fresh, new eyes. 

As many of you may have probably known, there are plenty of things that you can do, see & hear in Korea (which explains my massive checklist of to-do’s prior to my virgin trip to Seoul!). Personally, one of the top things I would want to see in Korea would be the culture — the Korean culture. 

Of course, there are various aspects to the Korean culture, from their art to their music, their traditions to their technology, their lifestyle, food, drinking culture, shopping, nightlife… The list is endless! Anyhoos, below are some of the aspects that fascinate me & that I would love to observe, experience & learn more about the most.

#1 PEOPLE OF KOREA & THEIR LIFESTYLE

 Shopping in Myeongdong (명동)

Shopping in Myeongdong (명동)

As they always say, a country’s true beauty lies with its people. I believe that in order to get the full experience of the country you visit, you have to get to know the people & their lifestyle, observe or be involved in the activities they enjoy doing & check out the places they like to hang out at.

 Strolling around one of my favourite streets in Seoul - Samcheong-dong (삼청동)

Strolling around one of my favourite streets in Seoul - Samcheong-dong (삼청동)

If you notice, some of the places photographed above are actually areas near university campuses, such as 이대 (Eedae) / Ewha Womans University & 홍대 (Hongdae) / Hongik University. These are the areas that are concentrated with youths & students, basically, these are the areas that youths like to hang out at. Hongdae, for instance, is filled with unique cafes, shops, boutiques, bars, clubs, etc. which makes it known not only for being busy & bustling with students during the day, but also for its vibrant nightlife as well. At night, the air in Hongdae would be filled with not only commercial electronic dance music that are being played in the larger clubs in the area, but also indie music within the underground clubs & bars.

One of the things I love about Korea is its unique little independent cafés, most of which are interestingly themed. My favourite café that I’ve visited during my last trip would be the Cat Café, a café which houses various breeds of kitties. With a one-time payment of ₩8,000 upon entry, you get a drink of your choice & hours of fun & laughter playing with these cats! 

Apart from this café, there are other themed cafés such as Thanks Nature Café, which has 2 real & friendly sheep hanging out just outside the café & Hello Kitty Café. There are also quaint cafés serving quality coffee such as 5 Extracts & Coffee LEC. 

#2 ART IN KOREA

 Do Ho Suh - Home Within Home

Do Ho Suh - Home Within Home

The art & design scene in Korea has been blossoming in the recent years & the exhibitions, galleries, audio/visual displays, street art, installations, festivals & art openings happening every other day (in the heart of the city of Seoul, especially) are not to be missed.

As a designer, I look at these "artsy fartsy" events as an amazing opportunity for me to get to know more designers & artists in Korea, expand my network, refine my technical skills, learn more about & experiment with technology that might not be available in Singapore yet, seek inspiration from these talented Korean & international designers & also improve myself as a designer.

 Street art & experimental art aren't uncommon in Korea so do look out for them!

Street art & experimental art aren't uncommon in Korea so do look out for them!

After all, that was how I got to know Catherine, a good friend of mine from Korea who’s also a graphic designer. Without whom, I wouldn’t have been able to see some of the coolest places in Seoul, like Leeum Samsung Museum of Art & RUF XXX - Namsan Studio & Bar which is located at the top of Namsan, overlooking the breath-taking cityscape of Seoul. She’s the one responsible for bringing me to some of these hippest hangout spots in Seoul, basically. (: 

 The view from RUF XXX - Namsan Studio & Bar

The view from RUF XXX - Namsan Studio & Bar

 Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

One of the museums I visited in Seoul was Leeum Samsung Museum of Art. If I have some time to spare, I would love to visit more museums & galleries the next time I’m in Korea again, such as aA design museum, Platoon Kunsthalle, PKM Gallery & Naked Museum (an upcoming museum which was still under construction the last time I was there). 

 Provence Light Festival  (via bstour)

Provence Light Festival (via bstour)

One festival that I would really love to see would be the Provence Light Festival in Paju City of Gyeonggi Province. I believe it’s an annual festival & seeing beautiful photographs from Provence Lighting Festival 2011 makes me want to be there & experience it for myself this year.

#3 KOREAN MUSIC

Anybody who knows Korea would know about Korean Pop (KPOP) music & the Hallyu Wave. However popular KPOP may have become in the recent years across the region & even the globe, I believe that there are also other types & genres of Korean music which may not have received as much appreciation as they deserve & this includes K-indie (i.e Rocket Diary, Nell, Yozoh, Casker), underground hip-hop (i.e. The Quiett, Drunken Tiger JK, Bizzy, Epik High), Korean Trot (i.e. Park Hyun Bin, Park Hyang Rim) & Electronic Dance Music (i.e. DJ Koo, DJ Tukutz). 

 Well, the iconic YG Building happened to be in the proximity of where we were staying, haha

Well, the iconic YG Building happened to be in the proximity of where we were staying, haha

One thing which I regret not doing was definitely not being able to go to a funky themed 노래방 (noraebang) when I was in Seoul, due to time constrains. ): This time round, when I’m in Korea (hopefully!), I’ll have to make sure that I’ll squeeze in a couple of hours of a good 노래방 session! One of those that I’ve heard about would be 럭셔리 수노래방 (Luxury Noraebang) in 홍대 (Hongdae), shown above. I’ll also make sure to drag my friends along with me as well, pwahahahahaha. After all, it’s the kind of activity which would only be fun when you’re going insane together with your friends! (; 

#4 LANDSCAPES IN KOREA

Other than korean culture, one thing that I cannot miss to see when I’m in Korea would be its beautiful landscapes, in the form of both nature & man-made structures. 

 Look at all those foliage! *___*

Look at all those foliage! *___*

If you’re a frequent reader &/or follower of korean or travel blogs, you would’ve known that the ideal time to visit Korea would be during autumn. As I’ve never experienced autumn in my entire life (you gotta remember that this is coming from a girl who happened to be born in a tropical island where it’s summer all-year round & who hardly gets out of here ^___^;;) it would be such an eye-opener for me. 

The unique & interesting architecture in Korea fascinates me as well. Above are snaps of some buildings with distinctive structures which I came across during my last trip, taken in 이태원 (Itaewon) & 합정 (Hapjeong).


Like I’ve mentioned earlier, there are various aspects to the Korean culture & this blog post could go on forever if I were to talk about every single thing that I would like to do, see & hear in Korea. What about you? What are the things you would like to do, see & hear in Korea? :D 

Photos you see in this post are all taken & edited by me (unless otherwise stated). Feel free to share them, but please take them out with credit! 노무 감사합니다 ♡

xoxo, Rai