Local traditions and culture in Seoul

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    Traveling in Korea

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Nov 16, 2013

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    Traveling here is very easy for Westerners, as we have been here quite a while... Everywhere in the country street signs are in English and Korean (called Hangul), but small stores and restaurant signs and menus may only be in Hangul. One of the most confusing things is they recently changed the English equivalent of most Korean words -- therefore Pusan became Busan, Taegu became Daegu, and In'chon became Incheon!

    Fortress called Namhansanseong
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    Korean style hotel room

    by IreneMcKay Written Jul 1, 2013

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    On our first night in Seoul we arrived late and stayed near the airport. I insisted we got a traditional style Korean room. This meant we slept on mats on the floor. We also had a tiny bath. Koreans sit on a raised platform in the bath and shower themselves rather than sitting in the dirty water.

    We were hugely amused by the fire escape. This was an abseiling rope to exit the room if it went on fire. Many Korean buildings have these. We would not have been so amused if there had been a fire.

    As we are not used to sleeping on the floor, our night was incredibly uncomfortable. However, the worst part was everything in the room: lights, TV, air conditioner was worked from one remote control that we could not understand. I think I accidently put the lights on a timer as they kept suddenly coming on in the middle of the night. Needless to say we did not sleep well, but it took a good photo.

    So glad to see a real bed in our next hotel.

    Traditional room. Traditional room.
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    Straw Craft

    by IreneMcKay Written Jun 30, 2013

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    I don't know if it really is traditionally Korean or not but on our first visit we stayed in the Hilton Hotel. It was winter and the grounds of the hotel were decorated with things made of straw. Some were very pretty.

    Straw roof. Straw craft Straw craft
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    Taegukgi - The Flag of Korea

    by Ewingjr98 Updated May 9, 2013

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    The flag of Korea has a white background, with a large red and blue "Taeguk" (or yin and yang symbol), and four black trigrams in the corner. The white is said to represent the Korean people's purity, homogeneity, and peace. The taeguk shows the philosophical balance and is a symbol that has been used in Korea since at least the 7th Century. The four trigrams are remnants of in Taoist cosmology and divination, that each have a number of meanings. The “geon” trigram represents the heaven, spring, east, and justice. The “gon” trigram symbolizes the earth, summer, west, and vitality, the “gam” trigram the moon, winter, north, and wisdom, and the “ri” trigram the sun, autumn, south, and fruition.

    The flag was designed by King Gojong in 1882 and was adopted as the national flag on March 6, 1883. In 1948, the National Assembly of South Korea officially adopted the flag as the symbol of the southern half of the newly divided nation.

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    Psy - singer of Gangnam Style

    by Ewingjr98 Written May 7, 2013

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    The Korean singer Psy, born Park Jae-sang on December 31, 1977 is best known by his stage name Psy (싸이 in Korean). He has been famous in Korea since his first album was released in 2001. He gained international celebrity status in 2012 with the release of the song Gangnam Style, that featured a satirical and funny video about a guy who thought he was as hip ad trendy as the rich people who live in Seoul's affluent neighborhood, Gangnam.

    When I visited Seoul in April-May 2013, Psy was everywhere. At least 10-15 different stores and restaurant chains had his image in their front window, you could buy Psy socks and figures at local markets, and near Gangnam station, visitors could dance with a life sized Psy on a mock stage.

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    KOREAN MANNERS

    by ancient_traveler Written Mar 19, 2008

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    Greeting and saying “thank you” are very important to Koreans. Word of greeting and thanks are usually said with a bow of the head. The dept of the bow depends on the relatives seniority between the two speakers.

    Korean traditionally sit, eat, and sleep on the floor, so shoes are always removed when entering a Korean home. Bare feet are considered to be rude, so it is the best to wear socks or stocking when visiting home.

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    KOREAN ARTS

    by ancient_traveler Written Mar 19, 2008

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    TRADITIONAL KOREAN MUSIC “GUGAK” shared a cultural background with China and Japan, but despite some superficial similarities. Gugak has a triple rhythm, while Chinese and Japanese music have two beat per measure. Gugak can be divided into two types: jeong-ak (for upper classes, has a slow and complicated melody) and minsogak (folk music).

    TRADITIONAL DANCE like its music, also be classified into either court dances or folk dances. The slow, gracious movements of the court dances reflect the beauty of moderation and emotions formed as a result of the strong influence of Confucian philosophy. The folk danced, mirroring the life, work and religion of the common people, are exiting and romantic, spontaneous emotions of the Korean people.

    TRADITIONAL PAINTING for upper class who produced much of the art were profoundly influenced by Chinese works. Folk painting, which became popular among the lower classes, expressive techniques and bright colors to depict strength, humor and leisure.

    POTTERY-making techniques were transmitted from China to Korea over 1.000 years ago.

    HUANG JIN YI Korean dance
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    TAEKWONDO

    by ancient_traveler Written Mar 19, 2008

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    Is a traditional Korean martial art. It is a method of self-defense that use the hands and feet. The ultimate goal of taekwondo is to develop the character and personality of the practitioner through physical, mental and spiritual discipline.

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    THE HERITAGE OF JOSEON DYNASTY

    by ancient_traveler Updated Mar 18, 2008

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    JONGMYO Royal Shrine is where the ancestral tablets of the kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty are enshrined. On the 1st Sunday of May each year, rituals are conducted according to strict procedures in an austere ambiance.

    DEOKSUGUNG was the residence of King Gojong (1896-1919). Interesting structure inside the palace include the Royal Museum, which houses approximately 5.800 relics used in the Royal Court. It is the first renaissance-style building in Korea. Royal Guards Changing Ceremony everyday except Monday and rainy day.
    www.deoksugung.go.kr
    Subway line 1 City hall stn exit 2 or 3 OR Subway line 2 City hall stn exit 12

    UNHYEONGUNG is was a private residence of the father of King Gojong, the next-to last king of the Joseon Dynasty. King Gojong was born and grew up here until age 12. On the lst Saturday of every April and October, GARYE the Wedding Caremony of King Gojong and Queen Myeongseong is reenacted here. Closed on Monday.
    Subway line 5 Jongno 5-ga stn exit 4 or Subway line 3 Anguk stn exit 4
    www.unhyeongung.com

    guards @ Gyeongbokgung Deoksugung Royal Guard changing ceremony Unhyeongung
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    NAMSAGOL & SAMCHEONGGAK

    by ancient_traveler Written Mar 18, 2008

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    NAMSAGOL
    This beautiful village is composed of 3 parts: a traditional Korean garden, Time Capsule Plaza and the village itself, which includes hanok (traditional Korean houses) from Joseon Dynasty. These houses were moved from their original locations around Seoul and restored completely. On traditional holidays, visitors can enjoy folk games such as seesaws, shuttlecock, and swings. Special events are held to provide visitors with a unique opportunity to make Korean food, especially kimchi. Close on Tuesday.
    www.hanokmaeul.org
    02-2266-6923-4

    Subway line 3 or 4 Chungmuro stn exit 3

    SAMCHEONGGAK
    Located in a beautiful, landscaped wood in downtown Seoul. For 25 years it was a Gisaeng (Korean Geisha) house where politicians and diplomats had private meetings.

    www.samcheonggak.or.kr
    02-3676-6788

    Subway line 3 Gyeongbokgung stn exit 3 and take a shuttle bus (every 20 min)

    Namsagol Hanok village Namsagol Hanok village Samcheonggak
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    SEOUL NORI MADANG

    by ancient_traveler Updated Mar 18, 2008

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    An open-air stage for traditional Korean performances such as the folk dance and mask dance. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, people crowd around the stage beside Seokchonho Lake for traditional performances.

    Behind Lotte World, Jamsil stn

    mask dance
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    HANGEUL

    by ancient_traveler Written Dec 17, 2007

    Koreans have developed and use a unique alphabet called Hangeul. It is considered to be one of the most efficient alphabets in the world and has garnered unanimous praise from language experts for its scientific design and excellence.

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    HANBOK

    by ancient_traveler Updated Dec 17, 2007

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    Hanbok has been the Korean traditional costume for thousands years, has straight lines, gentle curves and simple design. Exquisite materials, color and texture add variety and beauty. The beauty and grace of Korean culture can be seen in photographs of women dressed in the Hanbok. Before the arrival of Western-style clothing one hundred years ago, the hanbok was everyday attire. Hanbok is worn on traditional holidays, ceremonious occasion and special events.

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    Hangeul -- The Written Language of Koreans

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Sep 14, 2007

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    If you will only be here for a few days, don't even try... but if you have a year, that should be plenty of time to learn to read Hangeul characters if you are interested. Hangul was invented by King Sojong in the 15th Century as a way to simplify Chinese writing so all people could become literate. It certainly did simplify things! Instead of thousands of Chinese symbols Hangeul consists of only 24 characters, each with a distinct sound, just like letters in Western languages. When put together to create a syllable, the characters form a box, rather than a string of character as in English. A group of syllabic boxes is put together to form a word. Words are separated by an extra space between syllabic boxes.

    The alphabet for the Korean written language is called Hangeul while the Korean spoken language is called Korean or Hangungmal.

    Words in Hangul
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    Toilet Paper

    by elPierro Updated Mar 31, 2007

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    If you stay in campingsites or youth hostels, make sure you bring your own toilet paper with you. Also public toilets may not have any available for you. Usually you can buy single rolls in convenience stores, they are used for everything and you may even find them in restaurants where you can use them to clean your hands or utensils with (don't whipe your nose with it! it makes Koreans shiver as much, as we do with all the grummbling noises they make to get rid of their bogies).
    But even in a restaurant, the paper might not be there when you visit the toilet.

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