Occasions, Travel

Design Destinations: South Korea

The opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics is taking place tomorrow, February 9th.  That means the world’s eyes are on PyeongChang, South Korea.  Hundreds of people from all over the world have traveled to Korea to watch the finest athletes do what they do best.  But there are plenty of sights to see and reasons to visit South Korea even after the Olympics have ended.  Today we’re going to take a look at five destinations design lovers should see in South Korea.

Gyeongbukgung Palace, Seoul

Located in central Seoul, Gyeongbukgung Palace is one of the most renowned historical attractions and most visited sites in the city.  It was one of the main palaces during Korea’s Joseon Dynasty and was originally constructed at the end of the 14th century.  Sadly the palace was destroyed when Japan invaded in the 1500’s, but it was rebuilt and remodeled about 200 years ago, still making it a worthy historical attraction.  Almost like a park in and of itself, the huge palace grounds have many interesting buildings and beautiful gardens to explore.


Samtan Art Mine, Jeongseon

After Korea’s Samcheok Mine closed its doors in 2001, instead of letting it lay abandoned, it was converted into an impressive contemporary art complex.  Each of the buildings, both industrial and office, was refurbished and turned into a new space for modern art.  The old shafts were cleaned up and lit to accentuate their natural beauty, and many of the workers’ areas were converted into memorials to those who lost their lives both figuratively and literally while working on the site.  Not forgetting its industrial past, the mines have been transformed into a space that highlights both fresh voices in modern art and the area’s rich history of mining.


Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul

Built in 2014 near Seoul’s Dongdaemun Market, this plaza was designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid.  With no angles or straight lines is has a distinctively neofuturistic design and is the the centerpiece of South Korea’s fashion hub.  The building’s seven levels can be explored on a guided tour or at your own leisurely pace and includes an on-site history museum.


Jogyesa Temple, Seoul

Perhaps the most photographic spot in the Insadong district, the Jogyesa Temple in Seoul is a feast for the eyes.  The temple’s design is a mix of traditional temple and palace architecture.  Besides the large golden statues, the 620-year-old Buddhist temple features streams of pink, blue, and yellow lanterns on the ceiling and window shutters carved into the shape of trees.


Olympic Pavilion, PyeongChang

Admittedly this likely won’t be up for long after the Olympics are over, but it’s a definitely a place we want to check out.  Designed by Asif Khan, the pavilion has been described as the “darkest building on earth.”  This is because it’s been painted with Vantablack VBx2, a substance that absorbs over 99% of light.  Inspired by astronauts in outer space, this building features rods tipped with tiny white lights that protrude from the “super-black” parabolic curves of all four sides of the pavilion, which gives the impression of stars suspended against the darkness of space.  A dark corridor opens into a bright white space that contains a multi-sensory hydrophobic water installation also by Khan.


These are only some of the beautiful and intriguing places you can visit in South Korea.  With so much rich history, culture, and food there are many reasons a trip to South Korea is worth considering.  If you want to explore some design you can take home with you, make sure to check out some of Seoul’s best home and design stores.  You may be surprised by the similarities and differences between what’s popular there and here.

Inside Chapter 1, a Seoul home decor shop.

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