As many already know, South and North Korea were a single country up until the Korean war. After World War II, Northern Korea, which is officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was under Soviet occupation, which led to a Soviet-style socialist republic.
Upon division of the country, South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea, became occupied by the United States and other allied groups, which introduced a more western lifestyle.
North Korea remains a socialist republic under the rule of Kim Jong-Un, though many throughout the world see it as a fully communist country.
Since Korean history is rich with animosity and the struggle for an identity and independence, it’s hard to say whether the two countries will ever be united again.
If you’re planning on seeing South Korea (since access to North Korea can be difficult to gain), here are a few ideas of places to visit.
1. Visit The South Korean Border In Seoul
Tripadvisor offers a tour to the North Korean border. One former customer had this to say about it, “This is a nice guided tour to the demilitarized zone with three major stops: The DMZ theatre and exhibition hall, the Dorasan obersvatory (to see North Korea), and the Dorasan train station with tracks connecting Seoul and Pyongyang.”
Nanta is one of the biggest theaters in Seoul. NANTA is a sort of cooking theater. Three cooks start their day on stage, later a fourth cook (the manager) gets involved. This is a performance of both mess and joy. Expect food to be hurled at you, and if you’re close enough you might be thrown on stage to participate.
3. Lotte World
Also in Seoul, but for good reason. Surely, it wouldn’t make sense if the biggest indoor theme park in the world wasn’t in a capital. This theme park is colossal!
If you’re not swayed by the INDOOR part of the theme park, then never fear! Lotte World also features a huge outdoor section, which includes a magic island that’s connected to the indoor part by a monorail.
Plus, you can even go ice skating or bowling, if you like.
4. Visit the Kimchi Museum — the only one in the world
Kimchi, or seasoned fermented vegtables, is highly popular in Korea. So, it’s no surprise to think only kimchi museum in the world is settled Seoul.
How can there be an entire museum on kimchi? Well, there are about 8 different types of kimchi. You can taste the different kimchi or check out the bacteria under a microscope. You’ll be surprised with how much can be done at this museum.
5. Visit a market
Whether the market is Dongdaemun Market, popularly used for late night fashion stop (you can also stop here in the day), or it’s the Gwangjang market which is a piece of history come to life, you’ll never not find a market in Korea.
6. Visit the Korean Palace
Situated in the Northen end of Seoul, the Gyeongbok palace is the most famous palace in Korea. Built in the 1300’s, it has since then been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Now, it’s a tourist sight. English tours are even available three times a day. Plan to stay 1-2 hours in order to really submerse yourself in the royal life.
7. Jeju Island
Take a day trip (or many) over to Korea’s largest island, right off the Korean Peninsula. Sure, you might have to take an airplane to get to the island, depending where you are in Korea, since, a boat is also very probable. Either way, don’t miss this. The culture on Jeju island is unique to Korea.
8. Visit Bukchon Village
Settled in Seoul, this is one of largest traditional Korean wooden homes. Here, there are tons of cafe’s, art galleries, and restaurants. Because of the historical attitude of the place one visitor called it a “living museum.”
Bugaksan is a beautiful, naturalistic piece of Korea. Expect to hike a lot, and even get lost a few times. If and when you do get lost, just keep walking and exploring. You’ll eventually come to a bus or street at the end of your hiking adventure.
Make sure to bring your passport for a valid government ID to enter Bugaksan.
10. Seoul City Tour Bus
Here you can see everything you forgot or didn’t realize existed. This is also a great way to see the memorials and various architecture around the city.
The city tour buses are “hop on/hop off” accommodated and they visit at least two palaces in Korea.