All Roads Lead to Seoul

by Liz on January 1, 2012

in Books & Entertainment,Travel


SEOUL SWEET SEOUL!
The definitive girl’s guide to living, discovering, and enjoying South Korea
By Hana Yoo and Elizabeth Shim
Small Planet Publishing

Call me crazy, but I keep hearing little voices that are nudging me to declare 2012 as the year to visit, discover, and frolic in the land of Korea. Perhaps even live there for a year or two, and really get to the bottom of a bottomless intrigue.

Sure, things are a little shaky up North. And everyone’s a tad bit nervous about a 29-year-old, Swiss boarding school-trained neophyte handling the last Stalinist regime standing. I mean, would you hire this guy to run a country? I wouldn’t.

Luckily for us, South Korea is everything North Korea is not. The keywords here would be leisure and entertainment. Many travelers from neighboring China and Japan are now coming in droves to do their shopping, hang out in the cafés of Gangnam, and taste some of that ferociously delicious Korean food. Kimchi, anyone?

Other, rather unexpected events have also taken place that have put Korea squarely on the map, kind of like the way you can see places like London, or New York not just geographically but also symbolically.

First — and let’s just get this out of the way — there’s the K-pop phenomenon. I’m thinking of the scores of websites dedicated to Korean entertainment news, especially this lovely one based in Singapore — designed to quench the unquenchable thirst of K-pop fans for more pictures, updates, and music videos by some of Korea’s cutest, eye-catching, what-have-you stars. This stuff is addictive, I’m telling you, so don’t get sucked in. But if you do, you may find yourself actually traveling to Korea.

And I’m here to tell you that’s not a bad idea. Especially if you are young, Korea seems to hold a few promises for the smart, adaptable person who’s curious to learn more about Asia.

So if you’re headed to Korea, check out Seoul Sweet Seoul! There’s lots of information about shopping, spas, and travel, in a detailed language you won’t find in tourist brochures, or the usual suspects published by Lonely Planet or Moon Guides. It also helps it was written by myself and Hana Yoo, and we’ve lived in Korea for a combined six years.

There’s also information here about expat living and finding a job, but with none of the usual ranting about locals that you’ll find on forums littered with trolls who suffer from some arcane inability to adjust.

The world’s getting smaller. And we’ve all got to make an effort to understand each other better.

And in 2012, as this piece on CNNGo suggests, what better place to head for than the Land of the Morning Calm, in a year when the Mayan Calendar ends?

Mark my words, dear readers. All roads lead to Seoul. So buy the book already.

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