As I walk through old and new neighborhoods of mine in Seoul, both north and south of the Han River, I am reminded of just how far this city has come to make its mark on the world.
Yet, with all this advancement, this hurried rush for globalization, I am still able to find traces of how everything was before all the frenzy and mass construction started.
Places like Seolleung Park, a short five-minute walk from where I used to live in Gangnam. Full of ritualistic relics that date all the way back to the Joseon Dynasty, it was here that King Seongjong, his third wife and his second son, King Jeongjong (who took to the throne at 18) were all buried.
All of this history and incredibly preserved ancient wooden architecture inside beautifully kept natural grounds that sit a mere 10 minute-walk away from the COEX, Asia’s largest underground shopping mall.
Or the beautiful, towering and newly restored Gwanghwamun Gate. A signpost of monumental importance – the entranceway to the city’s most significant palace – greets visitors only minutes away from Myeondong, arguably Seoul’s busiest and most popular shopping district. Also only yards away from its steps are skyscrapers displaying gigantic LCD screens, telltale signs of the country’s clutch on the electronics industry.
It amazes me how such places still exist in such a rapidly developing city like Seoul. I hope preservation efforts continue to keep the balance of old and new.
Canada-born Gregory B. Curley is a professional photographer based in Seoul. His work has appeared in The Korea Herald, SEOUL Magazine, Elle, MTV, 10 Magazine, Morning Calm, CNNGo and CNN. You can find his work at hermithideaways.com and on twitter.com/gregorycurley.
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