Monday, January 5, 2015

A trip to Seoul

We went to Seoul! In winter, it's noticeably colder there than in Tokyo. Not bitter cold, but cold enough that it was always a relief to go inside.

The culture is has a reputation for being conservative, the train system is clean and prompt, and it's both less crowded and louder than Tokyo. Tons of street food, a good number of outdoor markets. Things are cheap enough that I can see why so many Japanese and Chinese people take shopping vacations there.

Some pictures around town! (You may have to click on an image to get them to show up.)

Street food! This is by no means a comprehensive list, just the most interesting-looking ones.

A few things surprised me - how easy it was to get around without knowing any Korean, how decent the pizza is (I've been routinely disappointed in Tokyo), how many Mexican restaurants there were (not many compared to the US, but more than other parts of Asia), and the sheer volume and variety of coffee shops.

These are pictures of coffee shops I took in a single day. I included shops with signs that advertised coffee through logos, text, photos, or decor. I left out the blurry photos, ones that were too far away to see, caf├ęs not specifically advertising coffee, and one or two I just didn't have room for. For the curious, there are 97 different shops pictured here.

We also saw cultural and historic sites, although I didn't take a ton of pictures inside museums or in sprawling complexes like Gyeongbokgung Palace.

The Seoul Museum of History and the War Memorial are probably the best funded museums I've ever been in. Everything looks new and freshly installed, the rooms lead people through at a reasonable pace, and it has some innovative installations.

That said, my favorite was the Trick Eye Museum. Before we went in, and while we were still thawing from being in the barely-above-freezing temperatures outside, we put our bags and coats in a coin locker. Then we discovered that our tickets included admission to a little attraction on the same floor called the Ice Museum. We thought that it was reasonably likely to be a bunch of refrigerated cases with sculptures or crystal growths inside or something.

Our first thought upon entering was you have got to be $^#%ing kidding.

The whole area was literally a freezer. A good chunk of that was devoted to recreating an Ikea-sized apartment, complete with toilet (partially pictured, no sitting allowed). After spending a couple hours walking around in the winter weather before entering the museum, you can understand our dismay at finding ourselves taking a tour of a freezer without our coats.

After only a couple of minutes, we gladly moved on to the Trick Eye part of the building.

The whole concept is integrating yourself into optical illusions. Many settings were painted sideways or upside down, floors were painted with heavy use of foreshortening, foreground/background cutouts, that sort of thing.

As illustration, the photo on the left is right side up, the setting is painted sideways against the wall. But when you rotate the image, the illusion is easier to buy into.

Even leaving the main exhibit space was an optical illusion adventure.

One floor up from the Trick Eye Museum was something called the Love Museum. Same concept, but it was all about sex. 

I didn't take a lot of photos, and I can't share most of them because I'd be violating some terms of service, so I'll just leave you with this photo.

The person is painted on the backdrop, the wood and butt shadow are a cutout in the foreground.
You're welcome.


  1. Hello Kim, thank you for visiting Trick Eye Museum in Seoul and hope you had great time with us. We've recently opened our blog for English speaker and we would like to share some of your photo in our blog. If it's ok with you, please let us know. Thank you! :)

    1. Yes, please do! I love optical illusions and it was a delight to be a part of them, and to be allowed to take so many photos! I would definitely recommend this to anyone taking a trip to Seoul.

    2. Dear Kim, your photo will be featured in our blog sometime in this week. So please do check our blog by end of the week. Thank you!