Wow! Our first official day in Seoul is not even over and we’ve already done so many amazing things! We started off the morning with a delicious continental breakfast in the hotel. Local Korean cuisine was available, as well as more traditional western style foods like cereal, scrambled eggs, and French toast. After fueling up, we hit the streets of Seoul (with our umbrellas!) to visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
The Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty. There were once 330 buildings as a part of the compound, however, during the Japanese invasions of the 16th century most of the palace was destroyed by fire. Reconstruction of some of the buildings began in 1868 and an effort to restore Gyeongbokgung to its original condition has been ongoing since 1990. Currently, 30 buildings now remain on the palace grounds.
From there we headed to the National Folk Museum of Korea. The museum has four main galleries: History of Korean People, The Korean Way of Life, Life Cycle of Koreans, and the Children’s Museum. The museum itself is beautiful and the history inside is quite fascinating.
At this point in the day, we were all ready for lunch. It was recommended that we attend a local dumpling restaurant in one of Seoul’s trendier neighborhoods. Luckily, we arrive at the perfect time; normally this restaurant brings in lines of patrons that wrap around the block. And with good reason…the food was DELICIOUS. We all sampled the dumpling soup with noodles. It was a very fun time for everyone and we were also happy to share in celebrating Dan’s 20th birthday!
After lunch it was time to head to SKKU. Seoul contends that SKKU is the world’s oldest university, having been founded in 1398. It is a beautiful campus with a rich history and architecture that’s both old and new. We were greeted with an incredibly warm welcome by a group of SKKU students. They were able to mingle with our students and answer questions about living in Seoul. Thanks SKKU!
By this time evening is approaching and we’ve crossed off all of our scheduled visits for the day. Some of us wanted to check out the subway system and took it directly back to the hotel. Others stuck around SKKU for a little while to tour the campus and continue conversations with the Korean students.
We’re looking forward to another full day tomorrow with visits to Hyundai and the Onyang Museum.
(Here is us singing Happy Birthday to Dan in the restaurant.)