4 Hours In …

South Korea’s cap­i­tal presents its guests with a wealth of his­tory, style and ex­cite­ment

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE -

Seoul

1

COEX COM­PLEX The artery that cuts through the cen­ter of Seoul is the Han River, and the dis­trict called Gang­nam lit­er­ally means “South of the River.”Th­ese days it also means business, en­ter­tain­ment, cui­sine and lots of shop­ping. At its heart is Coex, a business and cul­tural hub that wel­comes an av­er­age of 150,000 vis­i­tors – both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional – on week­ends. It’s home to a huge con­fer­ence cen­ter, as well as Korea’s largest aquar­ium, a 16-the­atre Me­gabox cin­ema and the largest un­der­ground shop­ping mall in Asia, which on av­er­age wel­comes 36 mil­lion vis­i­tors per year. Three five-star ho­tels, two premier of­fice tow­ers, a depart­ment store, a sub­way sta­tion, an air­port ter­mi­nal and more are all lo­cated at Coex. It is also Korea’s top business events des­ti­na­tion. The Coex Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­ter it­self is a four-story meet­ings venue with over 4.8 mil­lion square feet of to­tal floor space. There are over 200 exhibitions and 2,000 con­fer­ences held each year.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion visit coex.co.kr/eng.

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BONGE­UNSA In con­trast to the bus­tle of the city, you can find some peace and quiet with a visit to the Bonge­unsa Tem­ple. With its gi­ant Bud­dha high en­ergy of the Gang­nam dis­trict, Bonge­unsa is more than just a tem­ple.You will feel the day’s strains fade away as you en­ter the leafy tem­ple com­plex and look over­head at all the Bud­dhist prayer flags

The tem­ple is a place to re­lax and re­flect upon your­self. The tem­plestay pro­gram is an overnight ex­pe­ri­ence of every­day life in the tem­ple, in­clud­ing tra­di­tional Korean Bud­dhist cul­ture and prac­tices. Some of the sim­ple Bud­dhist cus­toms avail­able in­clude the daily dawn ser­vice, Korean Zen med­i­ta­tion, Dado (a tea drink­ing cer­e­mony), and Bal­woogongyang (a Bud­dhist meal with tra­di­tional bowls).

Another op­por­tu­nity, the tem­ple life pro­gram, is avail­able for for­eign vis­i­tors. The two-hour pro­gram in­cludes a tem­ple tour, lo­tus lan­tern mak­ing, Dado, and a chance to talk with a monk. All ac­tiv­i­ties are con­ducted in English.Vis­i­tors can take part in this pro­gram with­out

reser­va­tions and the fee is

20,000 ($20). All par­tic­i­pants re­ceive a sou­venir.

Get more de­tails at bongeun.org. 3 SEONJEONGNEUNG ROYAL TOMBS

Seonjeongneung are the royal tombs of two Joseon Dy­nasty kings and one queen – King Seongjong, Jungjong – dat­ing back to the 15th and 16th cen­turies. The burial grounds were des­ig­nated as a UNESCO World Her­itage site in 2009, in recog­ni­tion of its his­toric sta­tus. Seonjeongneung fea­tures a wide range of trees, bushes and hedges, such as pine, cherry and wild pear. Each tree bears a name tag, as you would find in an ar­bore­tum, cre­at­ing an ideal place to en­joy a stroll and learn a lit­tle along the way. Beyond the quiet grounds, the sky­scrapers of the Gang­nam area rise up around, mak­ing it a popular des­ti­na­tion for nearby of­fice work­ers to take a lunchtime break.

4 SIN­SADONG GARO­SUGIL

Garosu-gil was where as­pir­ing Korean artists used to set up their stu­dios, away from the more ex­pen­sive Gang­nam dis­tricts. Now it has be­come lined with Asian and Euro­pean fu­sion restau­rants and cafes, the lat­est fash­ion bou­tiques filled with de­signer cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories, art gal­leries and night­clubs.

This nearly half-mile­long boule­vard lined with gingko trees can be es­pe­cially pleas­ant in au­tumn for the ca­sual pedes­trian, or cou­ples out to take a ro­man­tic stroll, as the golden gingko leaves in­fuse the at­mos­phere with an in­deli­ble sense of warmth and nostal­gia. Com­pared to some of the crowded hus­tle­and-bus­tle shop­ping dis­tricts like Myeong­dong, Garosu-gil of­fers a wel­come change of pace, and is par­tic­u­larly well suited for trendspot­ting while latté-sip­ping.

Check out the de­signer bou­tiques then set­tle down at one of the quaint restau­rants that give the street a classy, priv­i­leged air. Art gal­leries fur­ther color th­ese roads, as do the fash­ion­able peo­ple you are bound to see. 5

SAM­WON GAR­DEN Sam­won Gar­den is a veteran of the lo­cal restau­rant scene, first open­ing its doors in 1976. It quickly achieved fame not only be­cause it’s Seoul’s largest restau­rant, but also be­cause of its rep­u­ta­tion for serv­ing qual­ity and au­then­tic tra­di­tional Korean cui­sine. It can host up to 1,200 guests simultaneously for a va­ri­ety of func­tions. Some of the high­lights on the grounds in­clude a water­mill, a pond, a gar­den and a wa­ter­fall, all com­ple­ment­ing the land­scape and na­ture.

Sam­won Gar­den is note­wor­thy for its finely-pre­pared galbi (beef short ribs), bul­gogi braised dishes. In 2011, the Miche­lin Green Guide to South Korea de­scribed Sam­won Gar­den as“the sin­gle place to go for Korean-style beef.”

Get more de­tails at sam­won­gar­den.com.

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