20 Interesting Things Seoul Is Known And Famous For

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Seoul is the capital city of South Korea and was once the world’s fourth-largest metropolitan economy. With its captivating blend of history, technology, and entertainment, Seoul is known for its metropolitan status, vibrant culture, and interesting landmarks.

What Is Seoul Known For?

Seoul is famous for the iconic Han River, technological companies, an array of historic palaces as well as being the birthplace of K-pop. This ultra-modern city has so much to offer that it is often a destination that people revisit, particularly in different seasons when popular activities vary. That said, Seoul is also known for its traditional hanbok, rich gastronomy, and cultural festivals.

History, Culture, And Traditions Seoul Is Known For 

Historic Palaces

Seoul boasts five historic palaces that are must-visit locations for anyone interested in gaining insights into Korea’s history.

The five palaces are Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, and Changgyeonggung Palace.

Each of these palaces has its specialty and what they are known for. Gyeongbokgung Palace, known as the Palace of Shining Happiness, is the grandest of Seoul’s palaces, framed by the picturesque Bukhansan Mountains, and boasts a majestic main gate.

Changdeokgung Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is famous for its stunning Secret Garden (Huwon).

Deoksugung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, and Changgyeonggung Palace are famous for their blend of modern and traditional Korean architecture, tranquil and calm settings, and beautiful botanical gardens, respectively.

All of these palaces are architectural gems that will give you a glimpse into Korea’s vibrant and interesting history. If you’re interested in visiting the palaces and getting the full experience, you can always sign up for comprehensive guided tours of the city and some highlight sites.

Traditional Dresses

Traditional dresses in Korea are known as Hanboks and are a significant cultural heritage Seoul is famous for. Hanboks boast an elegant design, intricate embroidery, vibrant patterns, and exquisite craftsmanship that make them visually captivating attire.

Wearing or trying on a Hanbok is an immersive cultural experience that you do not want to miss out on. Fortunately, many places in Seoul offer Hanbok rental services, allowing you to experience the culture firsthand. 

What’s more, your selection of the Hanbok is also a way of expressing yourself and your emotions. For example, red symbolizes passion and energy, while blue represents peace and serenity.

In essence, Hanboks are a perfect and fashionable way to engage with and appreciate South Korea’s rich culture and history. 

And you know what’s good? You can even book Hanbok photoshoots to try out the traditional costume and get those amazing cultural shots that your friends will no doubt envy! 

Confucian Principles

Just as it is with several parts of South Korea, the culture in Seoul has been profoundly influenced by Confucian principles, and this is evident in their day-to-day lives.

This can be observed in the strong emphasis placed on respect for elders, and you’ll often see younger generations bowing as a sign of reverence.

This principle can also be seen in the educational sector, as students are encouraged to work diligently to achieve good grades. The workplace is also not left out, as titles and seniority hold significant importance.

Other aspects of Seoul’s culture where Confucian principles are visible include ancestral worship, social harmony, and duties and responsibilities.

It is important to keep these principles in mind, as being aware of them will make your visit to and stay in Korea much more pleasant.

Colorful Events and Festivals

Seoul is known for hosting an array of colorful events and festivals throughout the year. These are some of the most popular ones.

The two biggest and most celebrated festivals in Seoul are Seollal, the traditional Korean New Year, and Chuseok, the harvest festival. During these holidays, locals are often seen wearing Hanboks, performing traditional rites, eating traditional food, and playing traditional games.

Festivals like the cherry blossom festivals celebrate the arrival of spring, heralded by stunning views of cherry blossoms all over the city, while the Seoul Lantern Festival, celebrated in November along the picturesque Cheonggyecheon Stream, features thousands of illuminated lanterns.

For art and movie lovers, Seoul International Fireworks Festival, Hi Seoul Festival, and Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival (SICAF) offer a wide range of entertaining performances that will keep you on your toes.

Participating in these festivals is an inexpensive and interesting way to not only enjoy Seoul’s visuals but also immerse yourself in the culture. You are sure to create some lasting impressions and memories from the experiences.

Tea Culture

Although café culture is increasingly popular in the Korean capital, the tea culture in Seoul has been a vital part of its history and is still actively practiced today. 

Tea was originally used for ceremonial practices and as traditional herbal medicine. As a result, Seoul is dotted with charming traditional tea houses where you can experience the art of tea preparation and enjoy a variety of Korean teas.

The peaceful ambiance, wooden interiors, and low tables in these tea houses create an inviting atmosphere that you can visit to escape from the hustle and bustle of Seoul’s touristy atmosphere.

Rich Cuisine

With its abundance of rich and diverse dishes, Seoul is undoubtedly a paradise for food lovers and enthusiasts.

Among other dishes, Seoul is famous for its Korean BBQ restaurants where you can grill marinated meats like bulgogi (thinly sliced beef) and samgyeopsal (pork belly) right at your table.

Another dish you must sample to get the full Korean experience is kimchi, a type of spicy fermented cabbage that is often used as a side dish. Most local restaurants offer this.

Bibimbap is another Korean food that you simply must taste while in Korea. It is a colorful rice dish topped with an assortment of vegetables, meat, and a spicy gochujang sauce.

Other meals that you should try while in Korea include Jjimjilbang Food, Korean Fried Chicken, and their noodles. Whatever your palate preference, you can be sure that the Korean food scene has something for you. 

Take advantage of the insightful food tours in Seoul to sample various dishes while also learning more about the culture and heritage.  

Diverse Religious Beliefs

As much as Seoul is famous for its landmarks and cuisine, it is also known for being a religiously diverse city. The city encompasses different religions and has several temples and places of worship to attest to this.

One of the most practiced religions in Seoul is Buddhism, and there are several ancient temples in Seoul, including Jogyesa and Bongeunsa.

The Christian population in Seoul is also significant, and Seoul has many historic churches. If you’re a Christian, you can attend services, as well as appreciate the architectural beauty of churches like Myeongdong Cathedral.

Shamanism is still very much practiced in Seoul, and it’s not uncommon to find tarot card shops and shaman centers even in metropolitan areas.

For Muslims, there are halal restaurants as well as mosques in different areas of Seoul where you can enjoy Korean cuisine while adhering to Islamic dietary standards.

Birthplace of K-pop

Seoul is often credited as the birthplace of K-pop along with internationally recognized groups in the genre like BTS and Black Pink. With that vast media popularity, this is probably one of the most well-known facts about Seoul.

A visit to Seoul provides K-pop fans the opportunity to attend concerts featuring some of the biggest K-pop acts in world-renowned venues like Olympic Park Gymnastics Arena and Gocheok Sky Dome. 

They can also join K-pop dance classes to learn the choreography of their favorite songs. Be warned though, these are not easy. Idols put in tons of effort to put up those impressive stage performances.

K-pop lovers will no doubt also have an enjoyable time exploring neighborhoods like Hongdae and Itaewon, which are known for their artistic K-pop-themed graffiti.

Districts And Areas Seoul Is Known For

Itaewon

Popularly referred to as Seoul’s “International District,” Itaewon is a cultural melting pot with people from all over the world. As a result, there are tons of experiences waiting for you in Itaewon!

For instance, you can explore a wide range of international cuisines without having to leave the neighborhood. The area boasts a wide range of international cuisine, each looking equally mouth-watering as the next.

Shopaholics will also have fun exploring the plethora of unique boutique shops and vintage stores to discover one-of-a-kind clothing, accessories, and antiques.

Itaewon is also known for its vibrant nightlife, and the region comes alive after dark, offering a variety of entertainment options such as bars, clubs, and pubs. In fact, you can even join a pub crawl to visit some of the best pubs in Seoul!

If you’re looking to explore new tastes and enjoy an energetic urban atmosphere in Seoul, Itaewon is your best bet.

Gangnam

While Itaewon is known for its diversity, Gangnam is known for its modernity, luxury shopping, and vibrant nightlife.

The area became famous when a Korean singer named Psy released the world-famous “Gangnam Style” song, and to this day, you’ll still find tourists posing beside the Gangnam Style Horse Dance statue.

Gangnam is also regarded as the fashion and beauty headquarters in Seoul, and you’ll find several designer boutiques, beauty and cosmetics shops, flagship stores, as well as clinics where visitors can have both invasive and noninvasive plastic surgeries.

Restaurants and shops that offer fine dining and various entertainment options are also replete in Gangnam.

Hongdae

Hongdae is a neighborhood around the Hongik University area. It is known for its lively atmosphere, which is most likely due to the presence of college students in the area.

Just like the other areas which each has their own specialty and reputation, Hongdae is famous in Seoul as its artistic hub. For art lovers and enthusiasts, Hongdae is a must-visit as it is filled with galleries, street art, and innovative design shops you can explore.

Students and potential applicants are also welcome to explore Hongik University, one of South Korea’s leading art schools.

Myeongdong

A visit to Myeongdong promises you a unique and exciting shopping experience. For one, there is an abundance of fashion boutiques, cosmetics shops, international brands, and local designers where you can get all sorts of fashion and beauty items.

Myeongdong is also famous for its array of street food stalls, most of which offer a delectable array of Korean snacks and treats you can indulge in. Tteokbokki, mandu, and hotteok are some of Korea’s most popular street foods that you should definitely give a try.

Other activities to do in Myeongdong include visiting the stunning Myeongdong Cathedral to explore its unique gothic architecture, observing street performances of music and dances, and attending fashion shows hosted by some clothing stores.

Landmarks And Architecture Seoul Is Known For

Han River

The Han River is one of the most famous landmarks in South Korea. It is also a national treasure that offers a wide range of attractions and recreational opportunities for its visitors. Plenty of couples come here for dates, and you will find families enjoying some bonding time as well.

The river flows through Seoul’s major districts and is flanked by numerous parks and green spaces where you can have picnics and indulge in outdoor activities like cycling and jogging.

During the warmer months, you can also participate in water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, jet skiing, and even fishing.

Scenic cruise tours that offer insights into the history of the river, as well as other entertainment options, are also available for interested folks.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Located in the center of Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace is well known in South Korea as the Palace of Shining Happiness. This ancient palace is not only visually impressive but it is also an important piece of the nation’s history.

The palace was originally constructed in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty, where it served as the main royal palace and subsequently became the seat of the Korean government for over five centuries.

The palace is a magnificent representation of traditional Korean architecture and features beautifully crafted wooden structures, intricate rooflines, and ornate decorative elements. It also boasts spaces like pavilions, gates, and courtyards.

There are several things for you to see and do at this historical site. For one, you do not want to miss the interesting and colorful Changing of the Guard ceremony at the main gate, Gwanghwamun.

Additionally, you can explore the complex structures within the palace, its lush gardens and landscapes, as well as the plethora of artifacts present in the National Folk Museum located on the palace grounds.

N Seoul Tower

Perched on the top of Namsan Mountain, N Seoul Tower is the second-highest point in Seoul. It is a popular landmark and sees a significant number of visitors as a result of the full panoramic view of Seoul that it offers.

The tower is an observation and communications tower, and to reach its peak, you’d have to hike through the scenic Namsan Mountain or take a cable car.

This place is a must-visit for couples and lovebirds who can participate in the tradition of buying a padlock and attaching it to the railings of the surrounding terrace to symbolize eternal love.

Be sure not to miss out on exploring the teddy bear museum, which houses an extensive collection of teddy bears from various cultures and historical periods!

After your exploration of the tower, you can make a quick stop at the Hanok village to have a glimpse of Korea’s architectural heritage and also participate in cultural activities.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Easily one of Seoul’s most stunning architectural pieces, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is a vibrant cultural hub in the heart of Seoul.

The building features a futuristic architectural type, and with its curvilinear form that displays LED lights both day and night, it is no wonder why tourists flock to it.

The plaza houses several spaces, including a walkable park on its roofs, Dongdaemun Design Museum, and several fashion malls. There are also restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy Korean and international cuisine after your exploration.

Food Seoul Is Known For

Korean Fried Chicken

One delish Korean dish you should ensure you try while in the country is Korean Fried Chicken. This delicacy is especially known for its crispy and crunchy exterior and tender and juicy insides. This combination of textures makes every bite a delightful experience that will have you craving more.

Furthermore, there is a wide array of delectable sauces and seasonings available. From the usual soy garlic and spicy variations to unique flavors like honey butter and cheese, there’s a KFC flavor for your palate, whatever your taste preference may be.

There is no better accompaniment for these sinful delights than a refreshing mug of beer or a bottle of soju. They are common pairings for watching live baseball matches in Korea.

Korean BBQ

Another must-try Korean dish is Korean BBQ. With a wide variety of meats and flavors available, you’ll have an unforgettable dining adventure!

Korean BBQ offers an array of options, from succulent beef bulgogi to flavorful pork belly. You can savor the sizzle of the grill as you cook your meat to perfection right at your table. Additionally, don’t miss out on delicious side dishes like kimchi, pickled vegetables, and dipping sauces that complement the grilled meats.

Whether you’re a meat lover looking for a savory feast or an adventurous foodie seeking new flavors, Korean BBQ showcases the rich diversity of tastes in Korean cuisine, making it a must-try culinary experience in Seoul.

Famous People From Seoul

BTS

It would simply be impossible to have a list of famous people from Seoul without giving BTS a mention.

BTS is a boy band musical group consisting of seven members—RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. The group has achieved unprecedented success in the music industry and has had a significant impact on Seoul’s cultural influence worldwide.

For one, the band has one of the largest international fan bases – ARMY – from every part of the world, which has helped introduce countless people to South Korean culture and language.

In addition, the boy band members also serve as UNICEF ambassadors. It is a testament to their international influence.

That said, they’ve also inspired a tourism surge as fans from all over the world visit the city to see places that BTS has highlighted in their music and videos.

Son Heung Min

Another iconic person Seoul is known for is Son Heung Min. He is a South Korean footballer widely regarded as one of the most talented and accomplished players in the world.

Son was brought up in Seoul and has played for top clubs like Hamburg SV, Bayer Leverkusen, and Tottenham Hotspur. It is not common to see many Asians excelling in the top-tier soccer leagues; thus Son’s incredible achievements and endearing humility make him one of the most famous people from Seoul.

However, before moving to Europe to further advance in his football career, Son played for Seoul E-Land FC in the K League Challenge (second division), and his early success in Seoul laid the foundation for his subsequent successful career.

Discovering Other Things Seoul Is Known For 

Exploring Seoul is an eventful journey that will undoubtedly leave you with the desire to return to this remarkable city again and again.

 Even the iconic things above are just the tip of the iceberg! Seoul is famous for several other remarkable attractions. The city boasts stunning landmarks such as the Lotte World Tower, Bongeunsa Temple, and Seoul Olympic Park.

With all the rich culture and history, the South Korean capital truly is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.


WHAT IS SEOUL FAMOUS FOR? PIN IT FOR LATER!

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.

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