Four Great Places to Take Photos in Seoul

HanGang, Seoul, Korea

Photo by Hyeong Seok Kim / CC-BY

Seoul offers many photo opportunities. Visitors who don’t have a lot of time will find the following locations close-by, and interesting.

Gyeongbokgung

Photo by Richard Moross / CC-BY

Situated in the heart of Seoul, Gyeongbokgung is the largest palace in Korea. Frequently rebuilt, the palace is kept in pristine shape, and its courtyards, pagodas, bridges, walls, gates, and statues will keep any photographer busy. The royal guards at the gate are a particular favorite for photographers.

Gwangjang Market

Photo by Kars Alfrink / CC-BY

Gwangjang Market is one of the oldest and largest traditional street markets in Korea, boasting about 65,000 visitors per day. Today, the market’s vendors sell everything from vegetables, fruits, meat and fish to clothing, textiles, kitchen utensils and more. There’s also many food stalls and restaurants. For photos of crowds shopping, bartering, and eating, this is the place to go.

Bukcheon Hanok Village

Photo by whyyan / CC-BY

If you’re interested in taking photos of what Seoul must have looked like in the past, head for Bukcheon Hanok Village. This charming neighborhood is a labyrinth of streets lined with traditional Korean ‘Hanok’ houses that are still being lived in.

Cheonggyecheon is a 10km long public recreational space in Seoul. This serene urban renewal site is built on stream that cuts through downtown Seoul. Visit at night and stroll along the stream to get fantastic photos of its bridges, waterfalls and seasonal displays.

Many first-time travellers to Asia, particularly those on business, have asked about easily accessible photo opportunities in the cities they visit. This post is part of an ongoing series, each on a different Asian city, introducing a few photo locations for visitors with limited time.

September Photo Opportunity: The Masked Dancers of Korea

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Korea’s annual Andong Mask Dance Festival is an series of events celebrating the traditions of Korean mask dancing. If you’re lucky enough to attend, bring your camera, and get ready to get some really fun photos.

Yecheon Cheongdan-noreum, Andong Mask Festival
Yecheon Cheongdan-noreum, at the Andong Mask Festival in Korea

Originally a two-day event, the festival has expanded into a 10-day festival starting at end of September and continuing into the beginning of October.

Sandae-nori at Songpa, Andong Mask Festival, Korea
Sandae-nori at Songpa, Andong Mask Festival, Korea

The history of Korea’s Mask Dances reach back centuries. They were once used in shamanistic rituals, as local custom believed that wearing a mask warded off evil spirits. The performances of the masked dancers during the festival allow for some really interesting photos.

Byeolsandae-nori at Yangju, Andong Msk Festival, Korea
Byeolsandae-nori at Yangju, Andong Msk Festival, Korea

Each mask dance has it’s own significance, from making an offering to a goddess for health and wealth, to dancing for an abundant harvest, and finally a dance to chase away demons.

Goseong Ogwangdae at Andong Mask Festival, Korea
Goseong Ogwangdae at Andong Mask Festival, Korea

Andong, and its surrounding area, are famous as a center of Korean culture and folk traditions. If you visit during the festival, make sure to take the time to make some side trips with your camera. (Don’t miss the nearby folk village of Hahoe).

Masked dancers at the Andong Mask Festival, Korea
Masked dancers at the Andong Mask Festival, Korea

June Photo Opportunity: Korea’s Most Popular Festival

Lights at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Lights at Gangneung Danoje Festival during night

Korea’s annual Gangneung Danoje (The Gangneung Danoje Festival) is one of the most popular holidays in the nation, and a great time to capture photos of Korean culture.The festival takes place annually the fifth day of the fifth month in the town of Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Korea.

Masked Dancers at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Masked Dancers at Gangneung Danoje Festival

The Gangneung Danoje Festival features traditional games and activities that provides photographers with myriad opportunities for photos.

Women washing hair at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Women washing hair at Gangneung Danoje Festival

The festival include folk games such as the swing and ssireum (Korean wrestling), and other practices such as washing one’s hair in sweet Iris-infused water, eating surichwi tteok (rice cakes made with marsh plant), making Dano fans, and decorating masks.

Male dancer at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Male dancer at Gangneung Danoje Festival

Gangneung Danoje’s roots lie in the worship of the guardian spirit of the mountain that protects the town, and to pray for the peace and prosperity of all families living in the town.

Traditional dancers at the Gangneung Danoje Festival
Traditional dancers performing at the Gangneung Danoje Festival