1. You can watch the sun rise and set from the city’s four peaks.
You can also gaze upon the coolest, most sprawling neon-lit cityscape you’ll ever see.
2. There’s such a thing as haute-couture hiking.
You can’t go a month without at least one hike. And some Seoul-lites take their hiking gear very seriously.
3. The spicy food will test your stomach of steel (yes, that’s a good thing).
Restaurateurs will question your ability to indulge in fiery pepper-laden pickled dishes. Prove them wrong.
4. The internet is so good you can watch television on your smartphone in the subway.
Searing data speeds in Korea, the fastest in the world, mean your phone doubles as a portable television.
5. The booze is cheap, abundant, and a prerequisite for everything.
Your boss will probably order you to drink liters and liters of soju, a $1.25 bottle of liquor that tastes like vodka. It’s occasionally mixed with beer to concoct a hangover-inducing cocktail called somaek.
6. Did we mention it’s really abundant?
Jinro soju, the country’s most popular brand, is consumed more than any other liquor label in the world. Vodka comes second.
7. The mountains are endless, and endlessly beautiful.
They’ve captivated Koreans for centuries as the source of folklore and spiritual beliefs. In myth, the Korean people originated on one, as did the former North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Il.
8. The karaoke bars are better than your bars.
In Korea, it’s called noraebang. Psy and Rain are splashed all over the repertoire.
9. Gangnam style is more than just a dance.
Nose jobs and Louis Vuitton handbags are everywhere in this Beverly Hills-style district. More importantly, it’s a place to pay homage to the world’s most famous horse-galloping rapper.
10. Pirates of the Caribbean has its own knock-off.
“Pharaoh’s Fury,” a ride at the Lotte World theme park in Seoul, offers the delights of Disneyland on the other side of the Pacific.
11. This mystery “sculpture” greets you at the Incheon airport.
Is it a giant, erect penis? Nobody knows.
12. Shamans and séances call all the big shots.
Ancient spirit work thrives in this high-tech city. Politicians and CEOs regularly consult their shamans, called mudangs, before making tough decisions.
13. The Korean rock scene is awesome.
Forget K-pop. The university district of Hongdae is home to one of Asia’s coolest indie scenes.
14. But the real rock stars are professional video gamers (it’s your fantasy coming true).
Fans go wild for their favorite gamers, who perform against each other at auditoriums and get the 5-star treatment.
15. It’s the Republic of Samsung.
You can live an entire day on Samsung products without even realizing it.
16. There’s a museum dedicated to kimchi.
Yes, there’s a museum for that, with more than 100 varieties of this pungent pickled cabbage.
17. The high-speed rail can take you across the country in a flash.
The rest of the peninsula is reachable within a couple of hours — except, of course, North Korea, which sits behind a minefield.
18. The romantic Cheonggyecheon stream runs through the city center.
A popular landmark, this quaint retreat runs for more than three miles.
Think the Bible Belt is full of them? In Seoul, they’re everywhere, a staple of this nation’s American-influenced history.
20. The cherry blossoms are an amazing sight.
Japan isn’t the only nation with a whitish pink blanket of flowers.
21. Hanok, or traditional-style houses, are makin’ a comeback.
Seoul has witnessed a revival of these artisanal, energy-friendly homes that go back centuries. You could be living in one.
By Geoffrey Cain, GlobalPost
This article is syndicated from GlobalPost.
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