10 vistas of urban Seoul

Written by on September 30, 2013 in Travel

No matter how long I live in Korea, I will never become Korean; however, I am certainly a Seoul citizen. After visiting my hometown earlier this year, I discovered how much more comfortable I am in Seoul. Rather than dwell too much on my thoughts on it, I wanted to share some pictures of Seoul as I see it.

1. Let’s start with my home, which is at the base of a small mountain/large hill known as 104 Hill, based on its height. I try to leave home about a half hour before sunset.

104hill

104 Hill

2. Photographers call the hour or so before sunset “golden hour,” when the setting Sun bathes everything with rich golden rays.

sunset

3. But the best time to appreciate the cityscape is called “blue hour,” which happens during the hour (or far less) following sunset.

sinchon

4. Seoul is  a vertical city, with roads, homes, and land stacked up in layers, not always in the order you’d expect.

Hongjecheon

Hongjecheon

5. Other people sometimes complain about Seoul’s lack of parks and green space, to which I reply, “Look up.”

Dongnimmun Overpass, part of my daily commute

Dongnimmun Overpass, part of my daily commute

6. Seoul can be challenging to photograph due to its uneven and often hidden horizon.

Hongeun

Hongeun

7. Want to take an even picture? You’re a lot better off orienting to vertical lines.

Hongdae Station

Hongdae Station

8. Streets in western countries are laid out in grids. Here, they just kind of radiate.

Naebu Expressway

Naebu Expressway

9. Cultural theorist Scott Bukatman (whose name already sounds like a superhero) wrote about how superhero comics  humanise urban areas through their use of physical space, granted through fictional superpowers like flight or webslinging. Superman was able to leap or fly over skyscrapers, and his x-ray vision renders walls transparent, rendering a perspective of cities as open, modernist, and democratic. But in Seoul, you don’t need to be from Krypton to get this view.

sinchon_yonseiro

Sinchon Yonsei-ro

10. Whenever someone comes to visit Korea and is wondering what to do on their first day, I always advise them: wander around the area you’re staying in, because wherever you are, there’s probably something amazing you didn’t know about.

Morene Market/Gajwa Station

Morene Market/Gajwa Station

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About the Author

Jon Dunbar

Jon Dunbar is a former editor and staff writer for Korea.net. His first visit to Korea was in summer 1996 when he was a teenager, and he returned permanently in December 2003. He is involved in the Korean underground music scene and has supported local musicians through writing, photography, and occasionally planning events. He has been blogging for more than a decade, mainly on music, urban exploration, and his cats