A Tour of Seoul Through Audrey’s Camera Lense

I have spent many weekends in Seoul gawking at palaces, strolling down back alleys, weaving my way through some of the busiest markets in the whole country, and occasionally getting pushed and shoved by ajummas a foot and a half shorter than me; but this whole time I have not done a proper post showing you what I consider to be ‘the real Seoul’. What better way to do so than through a photo essay (and my very first). So let’s take a stroll around town:

Couple in Matcing Shirts has Caricature Drawn

A young couple in matching Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts pose together as an artist draws their caricature.

Insadong, Seoul

Ssamziegil (쌈지길) is a shopping and arts complex located in the middle of Insadong. Inside you can find little boutiques selling hand-crafted goods, stands luring you with waffles and sweet pastries, and a few smaller but enticing restaurants on the rooftop. Ssamziegil has ramps that spiral all the way up, and staircases that are covered in graffiti. The complex is a nice place to rest your weary feet and enjoy a little snack after having explored this artsy neighbourhood.

Sculptures in Insadong

Sculptures of dragons, warriors, and Buddhas sit on the main strip of Insadong.

Shopkeeper and his Books

A shopkeeper sits outside his store in Dongdaemun surrounded by thousands of books. This large market is located by the city’s East Gate, and boasts shopping malls, underground stores, and outdoor stalls.

Women in Traditional Hanbok Dress during Lotus Lantern Festival- Seoul, Korea

These young women dressed in hanbok, traditional Korean dresses, get ready to take part in the annual Lotus Lantern Festival which takes place in May to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.

Traditional Drumming Performance

A traditional drumming performance takes place in the city. If you ask me, the woman in the far right is really feeling the music.

Children playing on the Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul

Children play on the Cheonggyecheon on a hot summer day while their parents stand along the banks. The Cheonggyecheon is a long stream that runs through the heart of Seoul, and draws crowds of children when the summer temperatures begin to rise. Some even jump in fully clothed!

Bicycles in a Back Alley in Dongdaemun

Two bicycles lie forgotten in a back alley in the east end of the city.

Men enjoying Food and Beer

A group of men sit outdoors enjoying their beer, soju, and a few light snacks on a summer afternoon.

Flags in Namdaemun Market

Flags from around the world hang over Namdaemun Market. Namdaemun is a traditional market located by the city’s South Gate. It is a place where you can buy anything from pimpin’ fur coats and tacky lingerie, to traditional Korean dresses and street food. This happens to be the oldest and largest outdoor market in all of Korea, and dates back to 1414.

Fruit Vendor walks through Myeondong

A man pushes a cart with fresh produce through Myeongdong’s main strip at night. Myeongdong is one of the city’s main shopping districts and is always abuzz with activity no matter what time of day. It features mid to high end retail stores, but as you can see, it is also possible to purchase items from the stands and moving carts that are also found in the area.

Couple on a Date with their Cellphones

A couple enjoys a romantic moment at a restaurant – cellphones in hand.

Neon Lights in Myeongdong

Bright neon lights line one of the side streets around Seoul’s Jongno neighbourhood.

Seoul can oftentimes be overlooked by travellers in Asia since tropical beaches, mountain paradises, and mega cities like Tokyo, Bangkok, and Hong Kong sound far more alluring. Truth is, I doubt I would have ever made it to Seoul had I not taken a job in Korea, but now that I have gotten to know the city, I have grown quite fond of it. It has grand palaces, Buddhist temples, markets galore, noraebang where you’ll find yourself singing the night away, the most appetizing of traditional dishes, and enough bright lights to give you that big city feel. That’s the Seoul I have come to know.

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Zhu

    Awesome, you have a great eye for photography! I hadn’t seen that many photos from you before 🙂

    I don’t know if you noticed, but in the pictures of the guys having a drink, the beer label at the left reads “ass” 😆 I assumed the brand was cut but it made me chuckle. Some scenes are familiar to me, it reminds me of Northern China.

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      Thanks, I’ve been working on my photography, especially my creeper shots – I mean, candid portraits… 😉

      And that beer is called Cass. Super cheap and it kind of tastes that way too, lol.

  2. says: Angelina

    Wow, Audrey these are great! My favourite is the black and white one with the two children by the river. It is beautiful. miss you lots.

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      Thanks Angelina! That’s one of my favourites too. I like how the stream looks like glass. I hope you’re still toting your camera around TO. 😉

  3. says: Tom @ Waegook Tom

    Great shots, Audrey! You’re right about Seoul not having the same allure – don’t even get me started on the ludicrousness that is the slogan, “Soul of Asia” (whatever, Seoul). You’re correct in saying that it does have a lot to offer though, and I love these photos! The first one of the couple is my favourite here (the guy has cute potential), and I love the one of the women playing the drums – the one on the far right DOES look like she’s really getting into things.

    Now if only there were cheap flights coming into the country, people will be able to explore it. Roll on the launch of AirAsia Japan…

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      Hehe, that first couple was pretty cute. 😉 Did you notice how they didn’t just have matching t-shirts, but they were also sporting the same colour shorts and shoes! That must be love…haha.

  4. says: Ceri

    This is such a fantastic post. 🙂 Your photos are so gorgeous. I love getting a look at the ‘real’ side of the cities that people see every day rather than the city a backpacker just passes through.

    That picture of the couple with the phones makes me laugh. A few days ago, a friend and I were having lunch and there were three guys at the next table, not speaking, all playing on their phones. Nice(!)

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      After photographing all the main attractions a few times over I figured it was time to start getting close and personal with the locals, hehe. 😉 It’s so strange seeing couples out on a date and have them both be on the phone. The other day I saw a couple in a coffee shop and the guy was watching TV on his iPad, while the girl was sipping her drink and reading a book. Strange…

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      Thanks Sheryll! I always try to be as discreet as possible when doing the candid people shots – like having the boy stand off to the side so it looks like I’m taking his photo…haha. 😀

  5. says: Tim Moon

    Koreans sure do love their cell phones! That’s something I’ve noticed is how often people are on their phone, more than the US from what I’ve seen. My students have made some funny comments about my iPhone. “This is the land of Samsung!” one kid yelled at me. lol

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