Given that my family lives in Seoul, South Korea—we had much time to explore the city. Seoul is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of more than 10 million, it is one of the largest cities in the developed world. The Seoul Capital Area, which includes the surrounding Incheon metropolis and Gyeonggi province, is the world’s second largest metropolitan area with over 25.6 million people, and is home to over half of South Koreans along with 632,000 international residents . Situated on the Han River, Seoul’s history stretches back more than 2,000 years when it was founded in 18 BC by Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. It continued as the capital of South Korea under the Joseon Dynasty and the Korean Empire. The Seoul metropolitan area contains four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. Seoul is surrounded by mountains, the tallest being Mt. Bukhan, the world’s most visited national park .
We were able to venture many of my old haunts as well as some new corners of this extensive (and continually updated) immense city. One of the highlights was an evening boat tour along the Han River—which flows through the center of the city. The view offered from the river was a stunning and shimmering panorama of one of the world’s most vibrant cities. The experience was animated with the sights of colors, the sounds of laughter, and the smells of Korean barbecues. No city seems more alive than Seoul in the summer.
We also had a chance to spend a day in the Southern Port city of Busan. Busan is South Korea’s second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of approximately 3.6 million . The Metropolitan area (includes adjacent cities of Gimhae and Yangsan) has a population of over 4.5 million, and when including nearby Ulsan, and the South Gyeongsang region—the area has over 8 million population in the metropolitan area . The area also has Korea’s largest beach and Korea’s longest river, the Nakdong River. Busan is the largest port city in South Korea and the world’s fifth busiest seaports. Busan also offers one the world’s best seafood markets, and includes many Korean fish favorites of all types. We also got to experience the ocean shoreline vistas from atop an open air bus, and we sampled the Korean street sweet treats in the bustling shopping district. From Busan we able to rapidly travel back to Seoul via one of the world’s fastest “bullet trains.” City Life is Korea holds many charms.
The blog post was written by DoHee Kim-Appel, Ph.D. Associate Professor for Art Therapy and Counseling at Ursuline College.