Land Of Tranquıl Mornıngs: South Korea

Mainland Asia’s Easternmost Country, South Korea Offers A Unique World And A Vibrant Culture That Combines Tradition With Modernity.

South Korea boasts a rich and vibrant culture, which is at the peak in the capital, Seoul. Koreans visiting the royal palace in traditional dress, or the Buddhist temples on the eve of festivals, attract your attention right away as you tour the city. The heart of the city’s culture, Insadong is a must-see sight with its exhibitions 
of local handicrafts.

The South Korean people are extremely successful when it comes to preserving their traditional values in the modern world. Although the impact of modernization and globalization is evident in every area of life, Koreans are nevertheless keeping their centuries-old music, handicrafts and architecture alive today.

South Korea has successfully harmonized nature and culture. As you stroll through areas that preserve the traditional architectural fabric, you will feel the deep respect for that harmony and the vitality created by including nature in life.

 Among the tallest towers in the world, Seoul Tower is the best spot for a panoramic view of the city. Flooded with tourists for this  reason, it is also a place Koreans enjoy visiting. And newlywed couples traditionally attach ‘love locks’ bearing their names at the special section set aside for them at the foot of the tower.

South Korea is a perfect Far Eastern miracle. Perhaps it’s a bit of a cliché, but this is definitely the best way to sum up Seoul. You realize it the instant you set foot in Incheon Airport after a pleasant, just-under-eleven-hour flight from Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. The airport stands on an island that is connected to the city by gigantic bridges. The trains that run between the terminal and the mainland carry visitors from around the world to the city 24/7.

The capital Seoul stands out first for its orderly roads and planned architecture. You notice this modern city’s accommodation with nature as you travel from the airport to the city center, where the occupants of its magnificent skyscrapers are the corporate headquarters of South Korea’s firms, which have carved out a significant niche in the world economy and global trade. Seoul is a big city, and, as you might expect, the subway system that connects every point in that big city is extremely advanced, spidering through the city like a giant underground web. Brochures with instructions on how best to use this sprawling subway are available at all the major hotels.  At the same time, taxi fares are also quite reasonable for the country’s conditions.

Korean culture has a special place among the Far Eastern civilizations. Not readily discernible from afar, this difference is easily observed in Seoul. The Insadong district has emerged as the city’s cultural center. You will want to spend hours touring, and going into every shop, at Insadong, which brings together all of South Korea’s refined cultural values in everything from porcelain and fans to antiques and local costumes, not to mention its authentic cuisine. The Maraş ice cream vendor we come across as we stroll through this pedestrian zone gives us a good excuse for a brief pause. The entertainment district Itaewon is at Seouls Yongsan-gu region. This is also where students who come to study in Seoul and foreigners who come for jobs live and hang out. On weekends especially it’s not so easy to find a seat in the cafes and restaurants here. Besides venues where you can sample traditional Korean food, there are also Turkish, Indian, Russian, Arab and Italian restaurants as well as an array of fast food choices. As we were wandering around the streets exploring Itaewon, our eyes suddenly lit upon a minaret-like structure. Upon closer inspection, in turned out to be one of the two minarets of Seoul Central Mosque. Itaewon never ceases to amaze! The South Koreans are a people tightly bound to their history and culture. Gyeongbokgung Royal Palace is a complex of eclectic, independent structures where you can see the splendor of the past as well as fine examples of Korean architecture. It resembles Topkapı Palace in this respect.  For those keen to observe rural life, the traditional Korean village of Namsangol Hanok is your best bet. But Seoul also stands out for its museums. The art museums alone are home to striking collections far beyond your expectations. And the Folk Museum is an informative institution that lays out the entire history of the local culture before your eyes. In short, Seoul is a living, astonishing metropolis with both a local and a global face, where different beliefs commingle in mutual tolerance. Friendly and hospitable, the handsome, hard-working Korean people make visitors feel right at home. If you ask how they treat Turks, the answer is hard to put into words. Suffice it to say that the word ‘brotherly’ is the clue. Best of all, buy a ticket to Seoul and see for yourself!

Situated at the crossroads of cultures and civilizations, Turkey exhibits rich diversity in everything from architecture to local cultures. In line with the theme, ‘Turkey:  A Land of Civilizations Connecting Seas and Continents’, a dome symbolizing the universe stands over the life-source water, which grows from a drop into an ocean as a whole consisting of parts. The gradually widening concentric circles created by drops falling on water gives shape to the architecture of the pavilion, including the mezzanine floor. In a semi-transparent construction that emphasizes the circle in fractal shapes like the nautilus, a naturally occurring geometric element employed in traditional Turkish architecture, geometry is transformed into space through nature’s own awesome and extraordinary mechanism. The construction attempts to interpret tradition and modernity in a shared aesthetics with contemporary architecture in a region of the world where seas and continents intersect and history, religions and civilizations mesh. Employing a theme of water in an interactive floor in the middle of the dome structure emphasizes the propensity of Turkish art and culture to express “multiplicity in unity - unity in multiplicity” as a powerful architectural element.

One of South Korea’s trademark tastes, kimchee is a form of spicy pickled cabbage. South Koreans never tire of recounting its benefits.

Korea is the home of ginseng, which is produced from the roots of a plant. Among the different species of ginseng, which is known to be good for a variety of ills, red ginseng is the most prized.

One of the world’s tallest towers, Seoul Tower rises to a height of 479 meters together with the hill on which it stands and is the best observation point for a panoramic view of the city.

Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Seoul-Istanbul flights daily.

The stadium at Seoul, which hosted the 2002 Soccer World Cup Finals, still bears traces to warm a fan’s heart of the enthusiasm that surrounded that event.

Heading the list of key sites in South Korean history, Gyeongbokgung is a must-see for its sheer size and military guards in traditional costume.

One of the four largest fairs in the world, the Exposition, in which Turkey began taking part in the 19th century during the Ottoman period, is an urbanization trade fair organized around a different theme each time. The city of Izmir is the favored candidate for hosting the Expo to be held in 2020.

The Turkish stand at Expo 2012 Yeosu was designed by M. Hilmi Şenalp, Mustafa İskender and Celâladdin Çelik.

“The Turkish stand illustrates that very successfully in both design and content. Expos are critical for promoting Turkey, and, promotional activities are being carried out in as well as other cities.”
In a reference to Anatolian culture, a logo is being designed in the form of an ‘evil eye’ bead in tones from dark to light blue to represent the themes, ‘Water’ and ‘Sea’, ‘Drop’ and ‘Ocean’.

The main theme of the Turkish Pavilion at Expo 2012 is ‘Turkey: A Land of Civilizations Connecting Seas and Continents’, with sub-themes, ‘Turkey: Civilizations Along Seas, Seas Along Civilizations’  and ‘Water and Sea, from a Drop to an Ocean’. For more information:

“Turkey has been taking part in expositions since the Ottoman period and has won awards for its designs and concepts. We are also expecting an award at Expo 2012 Yeosu for our pavilion, which was organized under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry. Hassa Mimarlık is responsible for the architectural project, and IKON Events for the design, implementation, promotion and management of cultural events at the Expo 2012 Yeosu Turkish Pavilion. On Prof. Süha Özkan’s suggestion, we hit upon the sub-theme of Turkey as a land that connects seas and continents, and a very successful Turkish pavilion was created as a result.”