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Namdaemun, Seoul

In 2001, I was lucky enough to have a few days in Seoul.  I was in Japan for Eriko’s wedding, and whist she and Aa-san were on their honeymoon, I ducked across to South Korea for a look.  I really liked Seoul – I found it an energetic and bustling city with interesting things to see as a tourist for a few days.

One of the places I remember was Namdaemun, the huge city gate in the southern part of the downtown district.  I stayed somewhere near here in the back streets.  I assume that the name means “Southern Great Gate”, because the Japanese equivalent would be “Nandaimon”.  You can see how Japanese might have derived from Korean once upon a time.  Anyway, there’s a market that operates there day and night (see picture below).

Namdaemun was built in 1398, and stood protecting the good citizens of Seoul ever since.  Until the other night, it was the oldest wooden structure in Seoul (source: Wikipedia – it must be true).

Tragically, Namdaemun burned down earlier this week, in what is believed to be arson.  It was officially designated as South Korea’s National Treasure Number 1, and was a World Heritage site.  Imagine losing an irreplaceable 600+ year old national treasure.  It’s a tragic loss to us all, not just Seoulites.  Here’s the Korean Times editorial lamenting the structure not being better protected.  Here’s a photo of it during the fire, which I saw during the day and caused me to put this post together.

Here’s a photo of Namdaemun after the fire (source: public domain Wikipedia photo):

Anyway, now that I’ve brought back memories of Seoul, what else did I find there?  This is the view from the top of the tower on Namsam, a mountain that overlooks the city centre.

Here’s one of the ancient palaces in Seoul.  I can’t quite remember, but think it’s Changgyeonggung.

I caught the cable car up to the TV tower on Namsan.

This is the Namdaemun market, where I had some really fiery food for dinner one night, accompanied by some pretty strong shochu!

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