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eoul came into sharp focus when I left the comforts of my hotel for humbler accommodations as the business part of my trip to Korea ended. Coming up the subway exit in Jongno, I basked in my quick mastery of Seoul’s public transport system and then promptly got lost. In more profound moments I would say traveling is the art of being unmoored from daily certainties and finding yourself knee-deep in the unfamiliar. It is, in short, all about getting lost. Certainly this still holds true, but I hadn’t bargained on getting lost while dragging along a suitcase that had suddenly felt a few pounds heavier. The circuitous route to my guesthouse involved several wrong turns and some fancy footwork. I was so wiped out and so glad when I finally found the place that entering its doors was like coming home, really. In this case, home had doors encrusted with plastic turf and brick-red walls. And it had Mr. Ju. Mr. Ju, the artist “who had lived in Europe for many many years” and his wife Ji of the “most famous chicken soup in Seoul” ran their business with brisk efficiency. His stories about art and of life abroad and in Seoul speak to me of the value he places on a cosmopolitan outlook in life and a fierce pride in Korean culture. This maybe true for other Koreans as well, I may never know. His views will color my memories of Seoul. I look back fondly on the days I spent at his home and I hope he’ll continue to be a free spirit, old age notwithstanding.

Right: A man plays the geomungo . The geomungo is a traditional Korean six-stringed instrument. It is played using a suldae to pluck the silken strings.

Old Korea comes alive in Bukchon Located in central Seoul, Bukchon provides scenic glimpses of traditional Korean village architecture.

Intense color and flavor Korea’s fiery cuisine makes for an interesting dining experience.

Making a mark on the world stage As home to some of the world’s top technology companies, Korea has its eyes firmly set on the future. The Dongdaemun History and Culture Park is part of the larger Dongdaemun Design Plaza. This urban redevelopment project, designed by Zaha Hadid, focuses the spotlight on Korea’s growing influence in global culture and design. Left: Dongdaemun History and Culture Park at dusk

Urban Energy Vibrant and innovative minds are fueling Korea’s rise to the top.

A quiet moment at Bongeunsa This 1,200 year old temple in Gangnam has produced some of the great masters of Zen practice in Korea. Today, Bongeunsa serves a central role in modern Korean Buddhism while staying firmly rooted in its rich history. Right: Hall of Kshtigarbha, Protector of the Dead

Far Left: Changdeokgung’s main gate illuminated by street lights.

Jun Pinili

Seoul Monograph  

Photographs from Seoul, Korea