A couple of weeks ago, Seoul City announced that the results of a straw poll that suggested that Seoul was Asians’ most favored travel destination:
Seoul is the preferred travel destination of Chinese, Japanese and Thai tourists. According to a straw poll of 800 Chinese, 500 Japanese, and 300 Thais in their respective countries in December, 11.4 percent, 9.8 percent and 20 percent said Seoul is a city they want to visit within the year, the Seoul city government said Wednesday.
Regardless of actual travel plans, the largest percentage or 14.3 percent of Thais chose Seoul as their favorite city, while the second largest proportion, or 7 percent of Japanese respondents picked Seoul after Honolulu (8 percent). Seoul was the third favorite city of Chinese people with 7.3 percent after Paris and Tokyo.
Unsurprisingly, some sectors of the Chinese netizen community couldn’t leave it at that.
Anyway, on the Seoul tourism front, the Lonely Planet’s Simon Richmond — a.k.a. the Guy Who Is Actually Writing the Next Edition of the LP’s Seoul Guide — penned a piece on learning to Love Seoul:
An old Korean proverb goes, ‘Even if you have to crawl on your knees, get yourself to Seoul!’ It’s a view that the New York Times recently concurred with by tipping the South Korean city – which in January assumed the mantle of World Design Capital – as one of its top places to visit for 2010.
And yet on this website recently one reader hazed Seoul for being an ‘appallingly repetitive sprawl of freeways and Soviet-style concrete apartment buildings, horribly polluted, with no heart or spirit to it.’ What gives?
Like any booming metropolis, Seoul sure ain’t perfect. But, as I discovered researching the new edition of Lonely Planet’s Korea, there are plenty more reasons to embrace rather than reject one of Asia’s most underrated and unjustly maligned cities. The following ten, presented in no particular order, will set you on the fast track to loving Seoul.
Read the rest on your own.
(HT to reader)