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This warning side by the side of the road near the DMZ reads simply "MINE."

A Tourist to the DMZ

I’d read about visiting the DMZ a number of times before I arrived in Seoul. DMZ stands for the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, which is anything but demilitarized. It’s a wide strip of no-man’s-land that embodies the tension between these two countries, still officially in a state of war. Outside of that…

A hanok interior courtyard in Buckchon Hanok Village

A Tale of Two Seoul Neighborhoods

When I checked into the Hotel Ibis Insadong in Seoul, South Korea, I was immediately fascinated by the view from my window. The hotel overlooks the Ikseon-dong Hanok Area, or perhaps I should say it looms over it. Ikseon-dong Hanok Area The neighborhood looks from above to be about a city block around, and is…

detail of the painting above the shrine in Daeseungwon Temple, Suwon, South Korea

Suwon’s Palace and Fortress

Suwon, South Korea, a city with more than a million inhabitants, is a separate city from Seoul, but it’s been swallowed up in the post-Korean War urban sprawl, so that it’s in the same metro system. Getting to Suwon from the center of Seoul involves a very long metro ride: more than an hour, and…

the cable car with Seoul Tower in the background

Seoul Tower Without a Date

Seoul Tower, perched on Namsan Mountain above Seoul, is visible everywhere, looking like some sort of 70’s version of the future. Built back in the 70’s for radio and television, it was and still is a communication tower. However, it’s also a destination for tourists and locals: a thing to do on a free weekend afternoon….

an x-ray of my neck

Physical Therapy, Korean-style!

On my recent trip to South Korea, my left arm began to hurt. I dismissed it as a muscle ache, probably from carrying my luggage up and down metro stairs. Little by little, though, it got worse. I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t find a position in which my arm didn’t hurt. When my arm started…

Six (!) Seoul Palaces

Seoul is home to six different royal palaces, each built by or for a different king. Beautifully crafted and opulent, some are more intact and authentic than others. Authentic? The five older ones all include at least one tale of complete or partial destruction. All were burnt to the ground during the Japanese Invasion in the last decade…

Toile, the mascot of Mr. Toilet House, the Toilet Museum in Suwon, South Korea

Mr. Toilet House? A Toilet Museum!

The big gold-colored statue of a turd right next the entrance was enough to tell me that this museum wasn’t going to be a disappointment! Mr. Toilet House Believe it or not, Mr. Toilet House is the popular name for the Toilet Culture Museum in Suwon, South Korea, just south of Seoul. I hadn’t even…