The next day, planned to see Seonjeongneung and N Seoul Tower; the Old Korea and the New Korea all in one day.
To get to Seonjeongneung (also called the Royal Tombs from the Joseon Era, but there are too many “Royal Tombs” sites to count). It took us two trains to get to here from our hostel in Jongno-Gu, but we made it around 9 am, before the crowds settled in.
As was becoming our MO, we accidentally ventured around the back of the site first where we stumbled upon a Red Gate. Something that I learned here was that things painted red were denoted as being holy. So this is a holy gate, and the building behind it is a shrine.
This was once a burial site for royalty (hence why it’s called “the Royal Tombs”). However, the ambiance and serenity that was has been somewhat dampened by the surroundings outside the park.
I imagine that long ago, this site was in the middle of nowhere, peaceful like a graveyard is commonly thought to be. But today, Seoul is one of the largest cities on Earth. And all that population means the city has flooded outwards like the Mississippi River in April. If you were able to ignore that, though, it was a quite inspiring place to spend a morning.
The path that led from the gate to the Shrine had two lanes according to the site: on the left was for spirits only, the right was for those who were still alive. However, tourists, like myself, had created third path to the far right for people who didn’t want to risk angering spirits.
The park around the tombs was well-maintained and full of trees, benches, and wildlife. A lot of people took lunch breaks in these woods, and I can understand why.
There were three shrines on the property, this one being the largest. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the security cameras out of the shot, so we’ll just pretend that they’re The Royal Security Cameras of the Joseon Era.
And there was a stone monument with an inscription. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but it wasn’t out of place in a large cemetery.
Namsan Mountain and N Seoul Tower
After we left the tombs, we made our way back up north to Namsan Mountain. Aside from being a rather large mountain in the middle of the city, it’s also home to the N Seoul Tower. For the first part, we opted to take a cable car up.
Lest you be fooled into thinking this was a fun cable car. No, it went slow and as is common in a lot of Asian countries, we were crammed in like sardines. I was, however, able to get this picture looking down a major thoroughfare on the way up. The weird coloration is from the tinted glass in the car.
When we got to the first level, there were locks on everything. Not locks that actually kept anything from being stolen, but locks of love like you see in sappy romance movies attached to the railings.
And because of the number of people in Seoul, the locks were everywhere:
Naturally, we decided to add our own. Full disclosure: Sarah and I had been dating about six months at this point. Adding a lock with our initials might have been a bit preemptive, but also romantic. And hey, we’re still together after this trip, so we must have something going for us.
We found a place that we could wedge the lock, and attached it. If you can find it, let me know and you’ll win $20 because there are a ton of locks on every conceivable surface of that terrace.
After we’d placed our lock, we looked up. Before us stood a giant tower: N Seoul Tower.
I never heard anyone say the name of the tower, I only saw it written as the N Seoul Tower. I’m a bit lost as to whether it’s called the North Seoul Tower or if it’s simply referred to as The N Seoul Tower. It is in the north of Seoul. If anyone knows, again, let me know.
Speaking of things I don’t understand, at the N Seoul Tower, I saw a shirt with an equally cryptic message on it. I want to know what they were trying to translate, and why they put ‘blue’ on a pink shirt.
During our time there, we saw several of these sorts of shirts. I bought one that simply reads “Capsule”. No idea why.
The N Seoul Tower is based on top of a mountain. We didn’t have to go up to the top of the tower to get shots of the skyline like these.
By the time we’d descended Namsan Mountain, it was time for dinner. We decided to call it an early night because a) jet lag was still an issue and b) tomorrow, we would be going to the place that made me want to come to Korea in the first place: the DMZ.