Seoul, the capital of Korea, receives ICME-12 in its Convention & Exhibition Center-COEX. ICME-12 will certainly be a huge scientific and social success but the city and the country are also worth visiting. Let's see the main reasons to visit Seoul and Korea.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /></o:p>
1. Korean boyangsik food: Magical Powers
Korean people often say that "good food has magical powers." To keep in shape, no medicine beats a fine-cooked meal. This belief is well reflected in Korea's boyangsik food, which literally means food that invigorates the body. The most popular boyangsik foods in Korea are those that come in a meat-based broth like samgyetang, seolleongtang, and gomtang. In terms of Oriental medicine, boyangsik food replenishes the body, helps circulate energy, and balances the ying and the yang. Traditionally, boyangsik was consumed to maintain body balance (especially during the changing seasons), or to replenish the body in times of weakness. Nowadays, it is consumed throughout the year regardless of the season. Try some of the popular Korean boyangsik foods for its great taste and healthy benefits. And you should not forget Soju, a distilled beverage native to Korea.
2. Myeong-dong : All about shopping!
From the towering super stores of Milrione, Lotte Department Store, Avatar and High Harriet to the cozy, mom-and-pop shops lining the sidestep, Myeong-dong has something for everyone. Whether the search is for accessories, athletic wear, shoes, boots or a number of other mid-to-high priced items, you'll find it all here. With the main streets boasting larger, well-known stores, many of the better bargains are to be found at some of the discount stores that require a little walking to get to. All this selection of styles and sizes, coupled with the freedom of strolling in the open-air make Myeong-dong a shopping destination not to be missed and an adventure sure to be remembered.
3. Seoul: Towering High into a Bright Future</o:p>
Korean capital city, Seoul, is located in the Midwest of the Korean peninsula. It has been an area of strategic importance since prehistoric times, particularly in the realms of politics, economics, society and culture. During the Era of the Three States (4th to mid-7th centuries), the area was frequently used as a battleground among the ancient ruling kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla. It was designated as Korea's capital city during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). In 1945, the city was named Seoul, which means 'towering high.' It is home to more than 10 million inhabitants.</o:p>
4. Royal Palace: UNESCO World Cultural Heritage
In the heart of Seoul stands a royal palace designated as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, Changdeokgung Palace. The Joseon Dynasty built "Five Grand Palaces" in Seoul: Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung and Gyeonghuigung, all of which are located in the district of Jongno-gu and Jung-gu. Asia's largest underground street shopping mall lies near the 15th century royal tombs. Namdaemun, officially the Sungnyemun, is a historic pagoda-style gateway located in the center of Seoul. The gate, which was begun in the 14th century, is now listed first among the National Treasures of South Korea. The historic 24-hour Namdaemun market is next to the gate where it has been operating for centuries.</o:p>
5. Jeju: Volcanic Island Designated as a World Natural Heritage
The southernmost territory of Korea, the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province is a volcanic island created by eruptions millions of years ago. It is Korea's largest island and an international destination with fascinating natural landscapes and academic value. In October 2010, nine geological sites in Jeju Island received recognition as UNESCO Global Geoparks from the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network (GGN). The Jeju sites became the first in Korea to earn this recognition, and with it, Jeju becomes the only place in the world with three UNESCO certifications, following its Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site designations in 2002 and 2007, respectively. The nine Jeju sites designated as Global Geoparks include Hallasan Mountain, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, and Manjanggul Cave.
6. Gyeongju : Treasure Trove of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage
Gyeongju, located in southeast Korea, was the capital of the Silla Kingdom for 992 years (BC 57-935), the longest surviving kingdom in the history of Korea. Not only is it astounding that it was ruled by 56 kings spanning a period of almost a thousand years. Gyeongju still shines today, more than a millennium after the kingdom's demise. Buddhism was introduced in Silla in the 6th century and played a significant role in strengthening royal authority and unifying the people, becoming the foundation of the area's art, tradition, and culture. Consequently, Gyeongju is the home of the greatest Buddhist art treasures in Korea, and is the nation's most popular field trip destination. Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto are Gyeonju's most celebrated relics and are said to capture the essence of the Korean Buddhist culture. Gyeongju is a virtual cornucopia of history, meriting praise and preservation worldwide.
7. The Tripitaka : The World's Oldest and Most Complete Buddhist </o:p>
The Tripitaka Koreana (Goryeo Dynasty Tripitaka) are the world's only extant collection of wooden printing blocks for the Buddhist scriptures that are written in classical Chinese. Stored in the buildings of Janggyeong Panjeon Hall in Haeinsa Temple in Gyeongsangnam-do province, the Tripitaka Koreana was completed by scribes between 1236 and 1251. It is recognized as the most comprehensive example of the woodblock printing technique in all known Buddhist scriptures of that time. The Goryeo Dynasty Tripitaka is a priceless example of the early woodblock printing technique. Lacquered using sap from the lacquer tree, the woodblocks have excellent durability and can still print crisp copies 760 years after their creation. The total 87,000 woodblocks that make up the Goryeo Dynasty Tripitaka record nearly the entire collection of Buddhist scriptures that exist in Asia. Based on the value of their content and the excellent state in which they have been preserved, they were listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in June 2007.</o:p>