Top Ten South Korean Attractions

Top Ten South Korean Attractions

Gyeongju Historic AreasKorea SouthSeokguram Grotto and Bulguksa TempleSeoul2

       South Korea is a sovereign state located in the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is also called the Republic of Korea and is described in a 1948 UN resolution as the only lawful government in Korea. Its neighbors are China, Japan, North Korea, and the East China Sea. South Korea lies in the North Temperate Zone with a predominantly mountainous terrain. Its territory covers a total area of 99,392 square km and has a population of almost 50 million. The capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of 10,421,782. Archaeological findings show that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by the Lower Paleolithic period. Korean history begins with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by the legendary Dan-gun. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea under Silla 668 AD, Korea went through the Goryeo Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty as one nation until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910, when Korea was annexed by Japan. After liberation and occupation by Soviet and US forces at the end of WWII, the nation was divided into North and South Korea. The latter was established in 1948 as a democracy, though political turmoil, and periods of military rule and martial law, were to characterize much of the period until the foundation of the Sixth Republic in 1987. After the invasion of South Korea by forces from the North on June 25, 1950, the resulting war between the two Koreas ended with an Armistice Agreement, but the border between the two nations is the most heavily fortified in the world. After the war, the South Korean economy grew significantly and the country had transformed into a major economy, a full democracy and a regional power in East Asia. South Korea is a presidential republic consisting of 16 administrative divisions and is a developed country with a very high standard of living. It is Asia’s 4th largest economy and the world’s 15th (nominal) or 12th (purchasing power parity) largest economy. The economy is export-driven, with production focusing on electronics, automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics.

  1. Seoul
    Seoul is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world. The Seoul National Capital Area is the world’s 2nd largest metropolitan area with over 25 million inhabitants, which includes the surrounding Incheon metropolis and Gyeonggi province. Over half of South Korea’s population lives in the Seoul National Capital Area, and nearly a quarter in Seoul itself, making it the country’s foremost economic, political and cultural center. Seoul has been a major settlement for over 2,000 years, with its foundation dating back to 18 BC when Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, established its capital in what is now south-east Seoul. It continued as the capital of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty and the Korean Empire. The Seoul National Capital Area is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeokgung, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. Today, Seoul is considered to be a leading global city, ranking among the top ten global cities in the Global Cities Index of 2010. It is one of the world’s top ten financial and commercial centers, home to major multinational conglomerates such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai-Kia. In 2008, Seoul was named the world’s 6th most economically powerful city by Forbes. Seoul has a highly technologically advanced infrastructure. Seoul was the first city to feature DMB, a digital mobile TV technology and WiBro, a wireless high-speed mobile internet service. It has a fast, high-penetration 100 Mbit/s fiber-optic broadband network, which is being upgraded to 1 Gbit/s by 2012. Seoul Station houses the 350 km/h KTX bullet train and the Seoul Subway is the 3rd busiest in the world, with over 2 billion passengers every year. Seoul is connected via AREX to Incheon International Airport, rated as the best airport in the world by Airports Council International. Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2010 G-20 Seoul summit. The city was named the World Design Capital for 2010 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Bridges,,
  2. Hwaseong Fortress
    Hwaseong FortressHwaseong Fortress1Hwaseong Fortress2Hwaseong Fortress3Hwaseong Fortress4Hwaseong Fortress5Hwaseong Fortress6Hwaseong Fortress7Hwaseong Fortress8Hwaseong Fortress9
    Hwaseong, meaning brilliant Castle/Fortress, is the wall surrounding the center of Suwon, the provincial capital of Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. It was built in the late 18th century by King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty to honor and house the remains of his father Prince Sado.  It is located 30 kilometers (19 mi) south of Seoul and encloses much of central Suwon including King Jeongjo’s palace Haenggung. Suwoncheon, the main stream in Suwon, flows through the center of the fortress.
    Links: Top Ten Forts, Top Ten Asian Forts, Top Ten Gates,,
  3. Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple
    Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple 2Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple 3Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple 4Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple 6Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple 5Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa TempleSeokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple 8
    The Seokguram Grotto is a hermitage and part of the Bulguksa temple complex. It lies four kilometers east of the temple on Mt. Tohamsan, in Gyeongju, South Korea. It is classified as National Treasure No. 24 by the South Korean government and is located at 994, Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsanbuk-do. The grotto overlooks the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and rests 750 meters above sea level. In 1962, it was designated the 24th national treasure of Korea. It exemplifies some of the best Buddhist sculptures in the world. It is said to have been built by Gim Daeseong and originally called Seokbulsa (Stone Buddha Temple). Construction began in 742 when Gim Daeseong resigned his position in the king’s court or in 751, the 10th year of the reign of King Gyeongdeok of Silla. This time period was the cultural peak of Unified Silla. The grotto was completed by the Silla court in 774, shortly after Gim’s death. An old legend stated that Gim was reincarnated for his filial acts in his previous life. The legend relates that the Bulguksa Temple was dedicated to Gim’s parents in his present life while the Seokguram Grotto was dedicated to Gim’s parents from a previous life. It is now one of the best known cultural destinations in South Korea. A viewing of the sunrise over the sea, which is visible from near the seated Buddha’s perch, is especially popular. Bulguksa is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism in the North Gyeongsang province in South Korea. It is home to seven National treasures of South Korea, including Dabotap and Seokgatap stone pagodas, Cheongun-gyo (Blue Cloud Bridge), and two gilt-bronze statues of Buddha. The temple is classified as Historic and Scenic Site No. 1 by the South Korean government. The temple is considered as a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art in the Silla kingdom. It is currently the head temple of the 11th district of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Among the earliest woodblock prints in world, a version of the Dharani sutra dated between 704 and 751 AD was found there in 1966. Its Buddhist text was printed on a mulberry paper scroll.
    Links: Temples, Sculptures,,,
  4. Changdeokgung Palace Complex
    Changdeokgung Palace ComplexChangdeokgung Palace Complex1Changdeokgung Palace Complex2Changdeokgung Palace Complex3Changdeokgung Palace Complex4Changdeokgung Palace Complex5
    Changdeokgung, also known as Changdeokgung Palace or Changdeok Palace, is set within a large park in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It is one of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. Because of its location east of Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeokgung, with Changgyeonggung, is also referred to as the “East Palace.” The literal meaning of Changdeokgung is “Palace of Prospering Virtue.” Changdeokgung was the most favored palace of many princes of the Joseon Dynasty and retained many elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period that were not incorporated in the more contemporary Gyeongbokgung. One such element is the fact that the buildings of Changdeokgung blend with the topography of the site instead of imposing upon nature. Changdeokgung, like the other Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, was heavily damaged during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Currently, only 30% of the Palace structures remain.
    Links: Palaces,,
  5. Gyeongju Historic Areas
    Gyeongju Historic AreasGyeongju Historic Areas1Gyeongju Historic Areas2Gyeongju Historic Areas3Gyeongju Historic Areas4Gyeongju Historic Areas5
    The Gyeongju Historic Areas of South Korea encompass the ruins of temples and palaces, outdoor pagodas and statuary, as well as other cultural artifacts left by the Silla Kingdom. The historic areas are sometimes known as one of the largest outdoor museums in the world.
    Links: Top Ten Outdoor Museums, Sculptures,,
  6. Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes
    Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava TubesJeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes1Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes2
    The Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes is a World Heritage Site in South Korea. Jejudo is a volcanic island, 130 kilometers from the southern coast of Korea. The largest island and smallest province in Korea, the island has a surface area of 1,846 square kilometers. It is listed at number 23 on CNN Go’s 50 natural wonders: The ultimate list of scenic splendor.
    Links: Top Ten Wonders of the Natural World, Islands, Top Ten Volcanoes,,
  7. Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks
    Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana WoodblocksHaeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks1Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks2Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks3
    Haeinsa, Temple of Reflection on a Smooth Sea, is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism in the Gaya Mountains, South Gyeongsang Province South Korea. Haeinsa is most notable for being the home of the Tripitaka Koreana, the whole of the Buddhist Scriptures carved onto 81,350 wooden printing blocks, which it has housed since 1398. Haeinsa is one of the Three Jewel Temples of Korea and represents Dharma or the Buddha’s teachings. It is still an active Seon practice center in modern times, and was the home temple of the influential Rev. Seongcheol who died in 1993.
    Links: Temples,,
  8. Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong
    Historic Villages of Korea Hahoe and Yangdong
    The Hahoe Folk Village is a traditional village from the Joseon Dynasty. The village is a valuable part of Korean culture because it preserves Joseon period-style architecture, folk traditions, valuable books and old tradition of clan-based villages. The village is located in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. To the north of the village is Buyongdae Cliff while Mt. Namsan lies to the south. The village is organized around the geomantic guidelines of pungsu and so the village has the shape of a lotus flower or two interlocking comma shapes. Yangdong Folk Village (Yangdong Village of Gyeongju) is a traditional village from the Joseon Dynasty. The village is located in Gangdong-myeon, sixteen kilometers northeast of Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea, along the Hyeongsan River. Mt. Seolchang stands to the north of the village. The village is designated as Important Folklore Materials No. 189 by the South Korean government. The size, degree of preservation, numerous cultural assets, traditionalism, beautiful natural setting all contribute to the importance of Yangdong Village. It is also a fine example of the yangban (Korean aristocracy) lifestyle and Neo-Confucian traditions.
  9. Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty
    Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty
    The Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty refers to the 40 tombs of members of the Korean Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). These tombs are scattered in over 18 locations across South Korea. They were built to honor the ancestors and their achievements, as well as assert their royal authority.
    Links: Top Ten Tombs, Sculptures,,
  10. Jongmyo Shrine
    Jongmyo ShrineJongmyo Shrine1Jongmyo Shrine2
    Jongmyo is a Confucian shrine dedicated to the memorial services for the deceased kings and queens of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. The shrine is believed to be the oldest royal Confucian shrine preserved, with the ritual ceremonies continuing a tradition established since the 14th century. Such shrines existed during the Three Kingdoms of Korea period but only the shrines for the rulers of Joseon remain. The Jongmyo Shrine was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1995.
    Links: Top Ten Shrines,,
  11. Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites
    Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen SitesGochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites1
    The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites are the location of hundreds of stone dolmen which were used as grave markers and for ritual purposes during the 1st millennium BC when the Megalithic Culture was prominent on the Korean Peninsula. Korea is said to contain more than 40% of the world’s dolmen, which are mostly concentrated in these three sites. Pottery, comma-shaped jewels, bronzes and other funerary artifacts have been excavated from these dolmen. The culture of the people during this time can be gleaned from the evidence left by the dolmen. Additionally, the stones show how stone was quarried, transported and used to build dolmen. Dolmen in Korea have been dated to the 7th century BC in locations such as Gochang and the practice ended around the 3rd century BC. The dolmen culture is linked with the Neolithic and bronze cultures of Korea. Excavation at the sites did not begin until 1965. Since, then multiple digs have been sponsored and an extensive program of inventory and preservation has been initiated by the Korean government.
    Links: Top Ten Megaliths,,_Hwasun_and_Ganghwa_Dolmen_Sites,
  12. Links: Top Ten South Korean Hotels, Top Ten South Korean Restaurants,,

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