I was there from 1979 to 1981. During that time I lived in Inchon, where General McArthur landed during the Korean War. In Inchon there are replicas of statutes in the US, including the Statute of Liberty and others. The old people absolutely worship Americans, while the students hate the United States for its policies regarding N. Korea. The US President will not talk directly with the N. Korean government, which makes the entire area including Japan and China, insecure. Be very careful when you go there, to have a Korean guide. Otherwise, if you travel alone, never go into any area at night. Travel during the daylight hours and stay in well lit areas always. Seoul is a city of 10 million people, yet there is almost zero crime. One time I saw a man carrying a briefcase on top of his head, completely open with 10's if not 100's of thousands of dollars visible as he walked down the street. I was amazed and shocked that nobody was trying to steal his money. However, as I spent more time in the country I learned that the Police are mean and tough and do not ask questions before meting out appropriate or inappropriate punishment, so I guess people know better than to steal the money. I would definitely visit the "Old City" within Seoul. This is the original old city in Soul, prior to the modern day and the Korean government has preserved this beautiful little "city within a city," and you can go and have your picture taken and visit all the old shops and buy authentic, old costumes. It is a wonderful place. I would also visit Sor dak San, the mountain just minutes from Seoul. It is a beautiful mountain and there are well marked paths up to the top of it. I would also visit Incheon, as I mentioned earlier. I would also visit BuPyong, just a 1/2 hour's train ride from Seoul. BuPyong and Incheon are within minutes from eachother. The Korean people will fall all over themselves thanking you for learning their language. The older people are wonderfully kind and courteous. The very young people will gauk at your height and the hair on your arms! It's funny. The college students will despise you and will not stop to talk to you except to criticize your government etc. In the very south of S. Korea there is the southern port where there is a large city and lots of sights to see. Remember, if anyone offers you meat first at a meal, it is polite to turn them down 3x before finally accepting the meat. Historically, meat was difficult to find and so as a custom, they always serve meat, but you have to act as though it is far too expensive for you to expect them to offer it to you etc. They will love you for it. Also remember NEVER to look at a woman breastfeeding on the busses. Korea is so crowded that there are "unwritten" mores. One is that if someone is breastfeeding, magically, suddenly there is a curtain being drawn around them and no one can see them, so if you actually turn around or look down to see what's going on, it's a real shame to them. Also, if you are at someone's house and you hear mice or rats in the ceiling, never look up, act as if you do not see or hear anything. They are very embarassed by these critters and do not appreciate anyone bringing them notice that they've got rats in the ceiling. Always bow before anyone older than you are and always bow in front of men. Never walk along side men, always a few steps back. If you are in a private home, never eat with the men, always eat with the wife and grandmother who are in the kitchen eating. Just another custom. Don't be offended when you see the little children making a mess on purpose, or walking on top of the china hutch or suddenly screaming at the top of their lungs. You see, children untill they begin school, are blameless and can do no wrong. Same with grandparents. But you will see that life for the students is VERY hard. School is very difficult and the goal is to be admitted to Seoul National University. If a H.S. student fails to make it into that college, you will read about a few suicides. It seems, that only Seoul National University can guarantee a good job etc.
Good Luck to you! Korea is one of the most amazing cities in the world! Thank you for learning about the language. Kamsahamnida!
2 years living in S. Korea