Korea Day 9: Sightseeing Seoul, Repeat

After getting back from Jeju Island, we spent the day seeing some of the main tourist attractions in downtown Seoul. We saw the N Seoul Tower, Namdaemun Market and Gate, the Shinsegae department store, and Myeong-dong. Sound familiar? While I (and my mom and aunt) had already spent a day doing this (see Day 4), the rest of my family did not, so we decided to make another trip.

N Seoul Tower

This time around, we all went up to the observation deck at the top of the tower. As expected, the tower experience was ridiculously touristy, with employees taking a green-screened picture of each group going up the tower before the elevator (my parents ended up buying the photo, so I guess it worked).

The elevators taking visitors up to the observation deck have no windows to the outside, so you can't tell how fast or high you are while riding it. To alleviate the awkwardness, they came up with an amusing distraction: while going up the elevator, the employee tells everyone to look up at a screen mounted in the ceiling, which plays a short video of the group blasting off the earth into space. It's a cute distraction that is perfectly timed so that once it's finished, you've arrived at the top. Going back down plays a corresponding reverse video.

Observation Deck

The observation deck was entirely inside, which was a bit of a bummer. But on the plus side, there were floor-to-ceiling windows all 360° around.

Panorama of Seoul

Panorama of the view. Click the image to view larger.

Seattle Distance

They had a bunch of major cities in the world along with distances around the tower windows, placed in the direction towards that city. Go Seattle!


See Day 4 for pictures from here!

Shinsegae Department Store

After seeing Namdaemun again, we visited the Shinsegae department store. Shinsegae (along with Lotte) are two of the largest department stores in the country. We visited the store near Namdaemun and Myeong-dong, and I was amazed at how huge it is. It's a 15-story building with 12 stories of shopping. And it's not a mall - it's a single department store with sections covering high-end brands from everywhere (there were many familiar names from American malls). The other floors consist of other things like restaurants, etc.

Dinner: Tonkatsu

While we didn't do any shopping at Shinsegae, we did eat dinner there. We went to a Japanese restaurant specializing in Tonkatsu (breaded fried pork cutlets). It was absolutely delicious.

Tonkatsu Plate

Tonkatsu plate. Clockwise from bottom-left: Tonkatsu, shredded cabbage salad, Tonkatsu dipping sauce, Pickled radish/jalapeno, spices, Miso soup, Asahi beer, rice. It doesn't look like a lot, but it was really filling.

Tonkatsu dipping sauce

Closeup of the dipping sauce, To make it, they served us the bowl with only dried sesame seeds along with the wood pestle. We had to grind the seeds ourselves and then mix in the sauce.


Myeong-dong is one of the primary shopping districts in downtown Seoul. While Namdaemun Market is more of an open-air flea market style, Myeong-dong is more like a strip mall, with brand-name stores lining the avenues. The signage was very bright and vibrant.

Myeong-dong signs 1

Myeong-dong signs 2

Cheonggyecheon Stream

We finished out the day seeing the Cheonggyecheon Stream, an artificial stream with a waterfall flowing through Seoul. It seemed to be a popular destination for young couples, many of whom took their shoes off and put their feet in the water. I'd be worried about the cleanliness of that water...


I love taking long exposures of moving water. It looks like ice!