(Image courtesy of Abigail-Hope Jihye Park)
Orange County School of the Arts

How to spend 24 hours in Korea

Seoul, Korea. Home of world-renowned K-Pop bands, addicting dramas and cutesy K-beauty brands. But what lies below the surface? 

Upon a deeper look, a rich culture lies waiting to be exposed, explored and understood by travelers all over the world. So, here’s how you should spend 24 hours in Korea.

(Image courtesy of Abigail-Hope Jihye Park)

Noryangjin Fish Market

Have a hankering for seafood and early mornings? Take a visit to the Noryangjin Fish Market.

Upon entering the building, you will notice a sweet and salty smell waft up your nose, and slippery wet floors due to the vendors’ constant cleaning. The Noryangjin Fish Market not only has a great selection of fresh seafood but also has some of the nicest vendors you’ll ever meet. Some will spend hours with you, explaining each seafood and describing the taste. You might even get a free sample!

Although renovated, the Noryangjin Fish Market remains an authentic glimpse into Korea’s complex culture. A common phrase among Koreans and vendors is “saram naemse.” This phrase means “the smell of the people” and refers to people coming together and becoming one. Historically, fish markets have allowed not only vendors but also customers to gather and come together as one, creating a community of their own. 

(Image courtesy of Abigail-Hope Jihye Park)

When you visit the Noryangjin Fish Market, feel free to order some of your favorite kinds of seafood, like shrimp, prawns or even scallops. You may even notice that all of your favorites taste better when fresh. 

But, I do recommend that you try some things that are unique to Korea like naekjjie (raw octopus) and meongge (sea squirts). These are both very popular to eat, and taste delicious if you can get over the texture. I definitely recommend trying this at least once during your travels to Korea.

Trickeye Museum

Enjoy the Trickeye Museum full of optical illusion exhibits perfectly tailored for pictures. Each exhibit has been creatively made to deceive the eye when looking from a certain angle.

Downloading the app, XR Museum allows you to not only take pictures but also videos with an animated version of the exhibit. If you enjoy taking lots of pictures, optical illusions or anything in that realm, I recommend taking a quick stop at this museum before you head off to your next destination.

(Image courtesy of Abigail-Hope Jihye Park)

Minsok Village

Revisit the past by seeing it in action! Walk on dirt roads, framed with falling trees and old folk homes reminiscent of Korea’s architecture. 

Watch the farmers folk dance with tambourines and colorful headpieces attached with long tails of ribbon, while listening to the trumpets of the newly wedded family, sitting in an embellished crate. 

Participate in activities such as instrument carving, mask decorating and many other things that are symbolic of Korea’s history. Take pictures next to people who have mastered their art in weaving, pottery or even horseback riding. These are only a couple of things that you can do in Minsok Village. 

This traditional folk village has a countless number of activities that can even entertain you for the whole day. But for our 24-hour stay in Korea, I recommend that you do 1-3 of these activities. 

First, the farmers dance (shown in the picture above). The farmer’s village dance is an intricately choreographed dance, created to intrigue the audience from the moving blur of colors and occasional cotton candy shaped feathered headpieces.

Another great activity is to create your own gold foil stamped bookmark by using fake or real 24K gold. Next, you can participate in a calligraphy class. This calligraphy class explores the origins of Korean handwriting and ink writing. 

Last, there is a mask-making class where you decorate a mask of your choice with mini foam balls mixed with 3-D clay. These are just some of the fun activities that you can participate in when entering Minsok Village.

(Image courtesy of Abigail-Hope Jihye Park)

Night Life

Before you leave, I suggest exploring Korea’s fun nightlife. Enjoy the beautiful colors of neon signs, distinguishing each stall from the other.

Make sure that you try some of Korea’s street food which includes tteokbokki, tornado potatoes, cheese corn, hodduk and so many other treats.

Tteokbokki is a sweet and spicy rice cake mixture. This dish is my personal favorite because of the chewy and bouncy texture of the rice cakes mixed with a delicious spicy sauce.

I also definitely recommend that you try tornado potatoes. Tornado Potatoes are potatoes that have been cut in a swirl shape, stuck on a stick, deep-fried and then dipped in a powder seasoning of your choice. These tornado potatoes taste exactly like pringles but much better. 

Lastly, I would recommend trying hodduk. Hodduk is a dessert that is filled with sweet syrup and nuts. The chewiness of the outer layer and the crunchiness of the nuts makes it the perfect dessert. Also, don’t forget to check out some of the shops around the food vendors to buy cute stationery limited to Korea!

Enjoy your 24-hour trip to Korea, filled with culture, fun and food!