Children’s Day and Cinco de Drinko fall on the same day in Korea. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I’d rather just use this time of year as an excuse to have a marvelous margarita. The majority of my friends actually got a 4-day weekend this year! Alas, I am still working Friday, but got a bit of a mid-week repose having Thursday off. I wanted to spend the day recuperating from the activities of the week (it’s exhausting running around teaching this many classes to this many teeny tiny ones!), but the sun was out in full force and I had to make the most of the day.
This past summer I visited Seoul for a whirlwind, one night only stay after an interview for an MBA program. I wasn’t there for the shopping or the nightlife, but a couple of friends from Busan were up for the weekend so I decided to stick around. We checked out Prost, which I have since revisited and which has been jam-packed and unbearable each time. Up until this weekend I hadn’t really had a wild and wonderful night on the town. Enter Ramie’s and Fountain.
With my new schedule I still hardly have time to breathe. Two and a half weeks into my time in Seoul I was pretty much ready to call it quits with designers who had expressed interest in having their Fall/ Winter 2016 styles profiled on The Toronto Seoulcialite, only to still find no tickets in my new mailbox 24 hours before their shows. Designers (well…people in general) can be fickle and disorganized, so I was ready to spend my Saturday catching up on sleep and Shonda Rhimes. Star (of 87Pages) convinced me to get my ass outta bed at the crack of dawn on Saturday to take in the madness of Fashion Week in Seoul.
We arrived expecting a massive crowd quite early, but the place was pretty empty. It was really nice to take in the first really warm weather of the season with the beautiful, modern architecture of Dame Zaha Hadid’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza where Seoul Fashion Week is held. Stepping out of my taxi there was an eerily pristine moment of calm before the storm in which I got to admire the building and its empty surroundings bathing in sunlight from all angles. I reflect on that moment now, just having found out that Hadid, first woman as well as the first Muslim to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, died of a heart attack only 5 days later on March 31st, 2016.
It’s been two and a half weeks since I boarded the KTX and moved my life up to Seoul from Busan. To say that the transition was a bumpy ride would be an understatement, but I’ve had a lot of support from my parents, my friends back home and in Busan, as well as new friends and colleagues (not to mention superiors) who have helped in many ways (most notably cracking the whip on my landlord to fix my water as well as getting me a sweet new armoire).
Seoul, Korea is now one of the top 10 most visited cities in the world. And for good reason. Korea is a nation that has risen from a tumultuous, war-torn past to become an influential face on the global scene. I’ve been living in Busan for 4 ½ years and have visited Seoul on a few occasions. I thought it only appropriate that I do a “things to do travel guide” for Seoul while I’m still here. After all, I am Seoul Tee, and these are the Red Dragon Diaries. So without further ado, here are 35 great things to do and EAT in Seoul, South Korea.
Oceans 11. Mission Impossible. The Italian Job. All just a few of my favorite heist movies ever made. Perhaps you know them. And, if you’re anything like me, you have probably dreamed of being able to participate in a heist of your own. Well, now you can. And you don’t even have to worry about getting caught and locked up in jail in the process.
These days, there are so many ways for visitors to Seoul to explore the culinary treats of the city. With a practically endless list of taste tours and cooking classes available, it seems easy to delve into Korean cuisine. But the fact of the matter is that there are so many hidden treasures tucked away into the back alleys of Korea's capital that even most long-term residents like myself will never find most of them.
Enter Veronica Kang, founder of Gastro Tour Seoul. Having worked in the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years, Veronica not only has an extensive knowledge of the roots of Korean food, but also has many connections with those most influential in the industry. Many of these include the owners and chefs of Seoul's oldest restaurants, along with master brewers who have been preserving the methods of making Korea's traditional beverages for decades.