One of my favorite areas of Seoul is around Gyeongbokgung.  The “Palace Greatly Blessed By Heaven” is surrounded by the two districts of Gwanghwamun and Jongno-gu.  Each area is actually rather different from the other, but both districts combine with the grandeur of the palace to form a special area in Seoul.  Gwanghwamun is one of the bustling modern hubs that many people expect when they think of modern East Asian metropolises. Home to many skyscrapers, and my favorite bookstore in Korea, it is what I envisioned Seoul to be like prior to coming to Korea.  In juxtaposition to this is the area of Jongno-gu along the other side of the Imperial Palace.  The vibe here completely changes to a district made up of art galleries and quaint cafés surrounded by the greenery of several parks.  The two feel like night and day, and yet are separated by merely a few hundred meters and a busy downtown avenue.  Old and new combine here in a way that is distinctly Korean.

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