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Yi Sun-sin looks into modern-day Seoul.

Stepping Into The City Of The Future, Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea is a city of the future. It’s layer upon layers of buildings, technology, culture, people, and pollution. The streets are buzzing everywhere with food vendors, frenzied college kids, psychedelically dressed middle aged women, matching couples, and markets. It’s wired to the max, with some of the fastest internet in the world, ubiquitous connectivity, and lights everywhere.

I flew into Seoul from Tokyo, and it was my first stop in South Korea. I stayed with friend Eli, and had a great time walking around the neighborhoods every day, generally getting the vibe of town, and exploring everything.

Before departing to Korea, I had one night to stay in Tokyo. Instead of going through the whole process and expense of staying in a proper hotel, or a cheap backpackers hostel, I decided to stay in a Capsule Hotel. The Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel has a great location next to the train station, was super quick and easy to check into and out of, was inexpensive, and actually really comfortable. Here in my capsule, you can see I have a good sized bed, TV, power, light, radio, alarm clock, mirror, and a ledge for my stuff. Additionally, i received a key (the wristband on the ledge) that let me into my own locker downstairs. There was also a good sized common room with big tables, a kitchen with food vending machines, lounge area with sports and movies on TV, and a changing area. Overall the capsule hotel experience was exclellent, and I'd happily stay here again, even for a few nights!
Before departing to Korea, I had one night to stay in Tokyo. Instead of going through the whole process and expense of staying in a proper hotel, or a cheap backpackers hostel, I decided to stay in a Capsule Hotel. The Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel has a great location next to the train station, was super quick and easy to check into and out of, was inexpensive, and actually really comfortable. Here in my capsule, you can see I have a good sized bed, TV, power, light, radio, alarm clock, mirror, and a ledge for my stuff. Additionally, i received a key (the wristband on the ledge) that let me into my own locker downstairs. There was also a good sized common room with big tables, a kitchen with food vending machines, lounge area with sports and movies on TV, and a changing area. Overall the capsule hotel experience was exclellent, and I’d happily stay here again, even for a few nights!
The hallway of the Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel, featuring double-stacked capsules. The entrance to the capsule is covered with a bamboo screen, which blocks light, but not sound, and does not lock. For valuables, you get a secure locker downstairs.
The hallway of the Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel, featuring double-stacked capsules. The entrance to the capsule is covered with a bamboo screen, which blocks light, but not sound, and does not lock. For valuables, you get a secure locker downstairs.
Arrival in Seoul. I stayed with my friend Eli in the Sinchon area - a lively student area with lots of bars, restaurants, and an entire street of Love Hotels. The riverfront was a quick 15 minute walk away, and I ran on the recreation path almost every day, in preparation for the Pyongyang Marathon. Seoul is generally clean, however there are polluted days. In this pic you can see the skyline across the river fade into the smog.
Arrival in Seoul. I stayed with my friend Eli in the Sinchon area – a lively student area with lots of bars, restaurants, and an entire street of Love Hotels. The riverfront was a quick 15 minute walk away, and I ran on the recreation path almost every day, in preparation for the Pyongyang Marathon. Seoul is generally clean, however there are polluted days. In this pic you can see the skyline across the river fade into the smog.
Visiting the Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market Fish Market in Seoul. Vendors spread out in an orderly grid across the market floor, with colorful signs and bright lights. The vendors make it feel chaotic, but it's actually laid out very well.
Visiting the Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market Fish Market in Seoul. Vendors spread out in an orderly grid across the market floor, with colorful signs and bright lights. The vendors make it feel chaotic, but it’s actually laid out very well.
Rows of lights illuminate the fish vendors. The floor is constantly wet from splashing fish water, and being hosed off from passing electric carts.
Rows of lights illuminate the fish vendors. The floor is constantly wet from splashing fish water, and being hosed off from passing electric carts.
Each vendor has their own bit of space in the market, and packs it full of both fresh, frozen, and dried fish. Some vendors even have large tanks of live fish.
Each vendor has their own bit of space in the market, and packs it full of both fresh, frozen, and dried fish. Some vendors even have large tanks of live fish.
Layers of fish swim in their tank, ready to be purchased.
Layers of fish swim in their tank, ready to be purchased.

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Rays for sale. The booths are mostly staffed by middle-aged korean ladies, almost all with perms and some sort of patterned sweater or neon magenta track suit.
Rays for sale. The booths are mostly staffed by middle-aged korean ladies, almost all with perms and some sort of patterned sweater or neon magenta track suit.
Of course, Korean BBQ is a must.
Of course, Korean BBQ is a must.
The Dongdaemun Design Plaza, home of Seoul Fashion Week.
The Dongdaemun Design Plaza, home of Seoul Fashion Week.
I spent a bit of time at Seoul Fashion week, which was certianly interesting seeing the korean kids showing off their edgy "street style".
I spent a bit of time at Seoul Fashion week, which was certianly interesting seeing the korean kids showing off their edgy “street style”.
Beautiful curves and contours of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
Beautiful curves and contours of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
Seoul has magnificent and dramatic architecture. Buildings come in every shape and size, and modern masterpieces are squished right next to ancient heritage sights.
Seoul has magnificent and dramatic architecture. Buildings come in every shape and size, and modern masterpieces are squished right next to ancient heritage sights.
Yi Sun-sin looks into modern-day Seoul.
Yi Sun-sin looks into modern-day Seoul.
The statue of King Sejong, sitting outside of the seoul palace.
The statue of King Sejong, sitting outside of the seoul palace.
Walking around Hongdae, Seoul. There are lots and lots of areas in Seoul filled with shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Hongdae is one of the more youthful ones.
Walking around Hongdae, Seoul. There are lots and lots of areas in Seoul filled with shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Hongdae is one of the more youthful ones.
Partying with Eli and a couple fashionistas at Seoul Fashion Week.
Partying with Eli and a couple fashionistas at Seoul Fashion Week.
At the Seoul Namdaemun Market, vendors occupy booths packed with every variety of jewlery, house goods, clothing, toys, and anything else you need.
At the Seoul Namdaemun Market, vendors occupy booths packed with every variety of jewlery, house goods, clothing, toys, and anything else you need.
At the Seoul Namdaemun Market, vendors occupy booths packed with every variety of jewlery, house goods, clothing, toys, and anything else you need.
At the Seoul Namdaemun Market, vendors occupy booths packed with every variety of jewlery, house goods, clothing, toys, and anything else you need.
At the Seoul Namdaemun Market, vendors occupy booths packed with every variety of jewlery, house goods, clothing, toys, and anything else you need.
At the Seoul Namdaemun Market, vendors occupy booths packed with every variety of jewlery, house goods, clothing, toys, and anything else you need.
At the Seoul Namdaemun Market, vendors occupy booths packed with every variety of jewlery, house goods, clothing, toys, and anything else you need. Strangley, there are more sock vendors than any other.
At the Seoul Namdaemun Market, vendors occupy booths packed with every variety of jewlery, house goods, clothing, toys, and anything else you need. Strangley, there are more sock vendors than any other.
After a day of exploring the market, traditional noodles hits the spot - all for USD$1.
After a day of exploring the market, traditional noodles hits the spot – all for USD$1.
Seoul at night, seen from the N Seoul Tower. Seoul is electric, with colorful lights stretching off into the smog.
Seoul at night, seen from the N Seoul Tower. Seoul is electric, with colorful lights stretching off into the smog.
At the N Seoul Tower, couples fasten locks to the railings in commemmoration of their love. Entire areas are setup for these locks, as are lots of other couples places. As I was touring Seoul, I noticed an overwhelming amount of pro-relationship and family messaging, and lots of places setup as ideal date spots, encouraging Korean couples to get and stay together. Happy couples everywhere!
At the N Seoul Tower, couples fasten locks to the railings in commemmoration of their love. Entire areas are setup for these locks, as are lots of other couples places. As I was touring Seoul, I noticed an overwhelming amount of pro-relationship and family messaging, and lots of places setup as ideal date spots, encouraging Korean couples to get and stay together. Happy couples everywhere!
A happy couple in a romantic pavilion underneath the N Seoul Tower.
A happy couple in a romantic pavilion underneath the N Seoul Tower.
N Seoul Tower
N Seoul Tower
Lights and shopping everywhere. Never a dull moment in Seoul.
Lights and shopping everywhere. Never a dull moment in Seoul.
Mark Rothko in Seoul
Mark Rothko in Seoul
On the Southern side of the DMZ area, a barbed wire fence is coated in South Korean flags, in support of reunification, albeit on South Korea's terms, of course.
On the Southern side of the DMZ area, a barbed wire fence is coated in South Korean flags, in support of reunification, albeit on South Korea’s terms, of course.
Visiting the Dorsan train station, the southern link of the railway connecting North Korea and South Korea. The link is currently closed, but the train station is open to tourists.
Visiting the Dorsan train station, the southern link of the railway connecting North Korea and South Korea. The link is currently closed, but the train station is open to tourists.
Entering the Joint Security Area of the north/south korea DMZ, we were required to sign disclaimer forms. Reading this over another few times, it's intersting to see the amount of "spin" layered even onto this "official" form. Very interesting.
Entering the Joint Security Area of the north/south korea DMZ, we were required to sign disclaimer forms. Reading this over another few times, it’s intersting to see the amount of “spin” layered even onto this “official” form. Very interesting.
Looking north. Notice the North Korean guards are on the south side of the border (the whole are is a neutral zone, and guards from either side can roam free there), looking north. Their aim is to prevent people from traveling from the north to the south.
Looking north. Notice the North Korean guards are on the south side of the border (the whole are is a neutral zone, and guards from either side can roam free there), looking north. Their aim is to prevent people from traveling from the north to the south.
Inside the meeting room on the MDL Military Demarcation Line, the border officially separating North Korea from South Korea. In this photo I'm physically within the North Korean border, however the entire space of the room is considered a neutral zone, so I'm not officially in either Korea. Next to me is a north korea border guard. Interestingly, during my return visit to this exact room a few weeks later, coming from the North side, the North Korean guards were dressed completely differently, in more standard military outfits, and were much more relaxed and personable. They only put on this steely dress and demeanor when tours from the south are present. Photos of this exact room while i was on my tour of North Korea are coming soon. I would also sit in the seat pictured here during my subsequent tour from the north.
Inside the meeting room on the MDL Military Demarcation Line, the border officially separating North Korea from South Korea. In this photo I’m physically within the North Korean border, however the entire space of the room is considered a neutral zone, so I’m not officially in either Korea. Next to me is a north korea border guard. Interestingly, during my return visit to this exact room a few weeks later, coming from the North side, the North Korean guards were dressed completely differently, in more standard military outfits, and were much more relaxed and personable. They only put on this steely dress and demeanor when tours from the south are present. Photos of this exact room while i was on my tour of North Korea are coming soon. I would also sit in the seat pictured here during my subsequent tour from the north.
Amongst the sparkling lights, toxic smog, blown in from China, blankets the city and obscures the sunset.
Amongst the sparkling lights, toxic smog, blown in from China, blankets the city and obscures the sunset.

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