Insadong Street

untitled-7Located in the heart of Seoul, Insa-dong Street is one of the most memorable attractions in Seoul and represents the focal point of Korean traditional culture and crafts. Stores in Insa-dong specialize in a wide variety of goods that can only be purchased or appreciated in Korea: hanbok (traditional clothing), hanji (traditional paper), traditional teas, pottery, and folk crafts.
There is one main road in Insa-dong with alleys on each side. Within these alleys are galleries and traditional restaurants, teahouses, and cafes. The galleries are the heartbeat of Insa-dong. There are about 100 galleries in the area and you can see every example of traditional Korean fine art from paintings to sculptures. The most famous galleries are Hakgojae Gallery, which functions as the center of folk art, Gana Art Gallery, which promotes many promising artists, and Gana Art Center.
The teahouses and restaurants are the perfect complement to the galleries. At first they might be hard to find, but if you take the time to stroll around the twisting alleyways, the window shopping in itself can be very entertaining. The shops in Insa-dong are very popular among all age groups, because each one is unique.

The Deep Roots of Insa-dong Street

Insa-dong Street stretches over 700 meters between the Anguk-dong Rotary and Tapgol Park (Jongno 2-ga). During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the street was dominated by Dohwawon, a place of study for painters. The area is still a center for the arts, and painters, craftsmen, and art lovers continue to set up shop along the narrow alleys, making it a unique place full of folk crafts, pottery, and paintings. The street offers rich opportunities for visitors to experience Korean traditional culture and arts. Various art events and festivals are regularly held along the street.

From Expensive Ceramics to Daily Use Items

Approximately 40% of Korean crafts are exchanged in Insa-dong. Some products even trace back to the Three Kingdom Period (57 B.C.-668 A.D.) The most popular items are Korean ceramics ranging in price from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.
Other items sold in Insa-dong include earthenware, calligraphy materials, antique furniture, hanji, hanbok, teas, souvenirs, and cute accessories. Nearby shops include cafés, restaurants, ateliers, and galleries specializing in a diversity of items.
Every Saturday from 14:00 to 22:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 22:00, the main street is blocked off from traffic and it becomes a cultural space. Insa-dong is especially popular among foreign tourists. This is where they can experience and see traditional Korean culture firsthand, and also purchase pieces of fine art. Insa-dong is also close to other tourist attractions such as Cheonggyecheon Stream and Gyeongbokgung (the royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty).

• Inquiries
1330 Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
For more info: +82-2-732-2235~40 (Korean, English, Japanese)

Source: Korea Tourism Organization (English.visitkorea.or.kr)

 

 

 

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Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage]

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Hwaseong Fortress is an impressive structure from the latter part of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and the official fortress of Suwon-si, Gyeonggido.
The fortress (constructed from 1794 to 1796) was built as a show of the King’s filial piety towards his father Jangheonseja and to build a new pioneer city with its own economic power.
The fortress wall stretches for a total of 5.52km and has a great variety of military facilities that’s hard to find anywhere else. Four gates face each of the cardinal directions—Janganmun (north), Paldalmun (south), Changnyongmun (east), and Hwaseomun (west)—and the seven-arch style Sumun gates straddle the point where the nearby stream reaches the palace. Above the Sumun gates is a pavilion called Hwahongmun.
Untitled-40.jpgHwaseong Fortress was constructed under the guidance of Yu Hyeong-Won (1622-1673) and Jeong Yak-Yong (1762-1836), and is believed to have been constructed very scientifically. The fortress wall was built using Seokjae and Jeondol (bricks) and the holes between the bricks are just big enough to fire guns, arrows, or long spears through in case of an attack.
During construction of the fortress Jeong Yak-Yong invented ‘Geojunggi,’ which uses a ‘hwalcha’ (lever) to lift up heavy stones, greatly reducing construction time.
The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress went through many turbulent times and damage, and in the battle of June 25th, many of the facilities became so damaged that they were deemed irreparable.
Even though the fortress restoration initiative (1975-1979) restored many of the sites to their former glory, Paldalmun to Dongnamgakru (an area 491 meters in length) has still not been renovated.
The fortress was designated as Historical Monument No. 3 in January 1963, and in December 1997, it was designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
A variety of performances and evens are held everyday and Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival takes place every autumn.

• Website: http://english.swcf.or.kr (English)
Source: Korea Tourism Organization (english.visitkorea.or.kr)

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Four Points by Sheraton Seoul, Namsan

Untitled-35.jpgLocated in Seoul’s lively Yongsan-gu area, north of the Han River, Four Points by Sheraton Seoul, Namsan offers convenient access to business areas, tourist attractions and public transportation. It is directly connected to Seoul Station, one of the city’s major railway stations, via an underground passage. Also, Incheon International Airport is just 60 minutes away via the Airport Express train.
Four Points by Sheraton Seoul, Namsan occupies floors 19 to 30 of a mixed-use development tower. The hotel offers 342 sleek and comfortable guestrooms, each featuring spectacular panoramic views of downtown Seoul. All the guestrooms are equipped with the signature Four Comfort Bed™, fast and free WiFi and complementary bottled water.
The Eatery, the hotel’s inviting all-day dining restaurant, presents an extensive menu of local and international cuisines—ideal for business lunches, family get-togethers, and romantic dinners. For social gatherings, The Bar offers an extensive selection of drinks, snacks and craft beers from the brand’s signature Best Brews™ Program, which features an authentic local brew along with a selection of international beer. The hotel offers 54 square meters of function space and two private dining rooms, and a business center provides support services for corporate meetings and social events.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Four Points is Starwood’s fastest growing brand, with 42 hotels in operation and more than 50 hotels in the pipeline. In addition to Four Points by Sheraton Seoul, Namsan, the brand was on track to open eight properties in key destinations across the Asia-Pacific by the end of 2015, including Bali and Makassar, Indonesia; Chengdu, Penghu, and Hefei in China and Vadodara in India.

• Four Points by Sheraton Seoul, Namsan
37-85 Dongja-dong, Youngsan-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Tel: (82-2)6070-7000 Website: http://www.fourpoints.com/seoulnamsan

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Seoul Forest

Seoul Forest is the metropolitan government’s answer to Central Park in New York City. Based on its plan to create a forest in the Ttukseom area, the metropolitan government worked for one year to open the vast, artificially formed forest to the public in June 2005.
The forest covers some 1.15 million m2 of land, with a total of 420,000 trees of 104 different species were transplanted here to emphasize the ecofriendly image of the forest. The trees are about 20 meters tall and 30 to 40 centimeters in diameter. Oak, hornbeam and cherry trees are most common here, most of which are of Korean origin.

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The forest consists of five areas under different themes. The first themed land is called “TtukSeom Culture and Art Park,” which includes a plaza, outdoor stage, an artificial pond, an atelier and a gateball court. The second one is “TtukSeom Ecology Forest, a grand ecological forest which is home to such wild species as the Formosan deer, Chinese water deer, squirrels and fallow deer (they were released into the forest when it opened) (a guided tour is available).
The area is connected to Hangang Waterside Park via a 472-meter -long bridge. “Wetlands Ecological Field”, the third area, features a bird observatory, an eco-friendly playground and Jeongsu botanical garden. The fourth area, “Hands-on Nature Learning Center,” is a place where visitors can gain hands-on knowledge and see examples of various plants. This area also features Gallery Garden, a greenhouse and a flower garden made from the water purifying facilities which had long been used here. The fifth area is Hangang Waterside Park which includes a cycle trail and a boat terminal.

Location: 273, Ttukseom-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul

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