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I’ll meet you by the Han Gang

August 17, 2006

Well, well, well…. I now know exactly where I’ll be living in Seoul, so, I’ll give a quick geographic rundown on the city and my new environs.

First, a word on Korean geographic divisions.

Unit Meaning Example
do province Gyeongi-do, Cheolla-do
gun county Hwasun-gun
si city Seoul teukbyeol (special) si (city)
ri village Nogun-ri
gu district Mapo-gu
dong neighborhood Seogyo-dong

The largest cities are administrated outside of the provinces, and are designated as special cities: Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju (my old ‘hometown’), Daejeon, and Ulsan.

Here is Seoul proper, divided into its various gu:

seoul_map.jpg

My neighborhood, Seogyo-dong, is just to the southwest of city hall, in the district called Mapo-gu, right next to the long blue thing dissecting the yellow blob. That blue thing would be the Han gang (gang means “river”).

Seogyo-dong offers me some really great benefits and I’m quite excited to become one of its newest denizens.

For school: Seogyo-dong is located between the major universities of Seoul and right on the number 2 subway line. I’ll be doing most of my work at Seoul National University (SNU) which is just off the 2 line about 30 minutes away in Kwanak-gu. But also nearby are Yeonsei, Korea, Ewha, Seogang and Seon-gyungwan Universities – all with Professors and library facilities that will come in handy.

For play: Being smack dab in the university district, and especially Hongdae University – the main art school – means bohemia, or at least as bohemian as one is going to find in Seoul. Dance clubs, art/music performance spaces, coffee shops, and book stores abound. Moreover, there are all the other amenities young people crave – cheap food joints, gyms, and convenience stores. For me, however, the greatest amenity is the Han gang. While I can get by running on a treadmill at a health club, I would much prefer running outside. But Seoul is notorious for its crowds and pollution, so, this was a cause for some concern. Luckily, the banks of the Han gang provide oodles of space for long, car-free running trails so I’m only a half mile away from 20 miles of cool running (all marked, too – so I can time myself!)

Well, that’s enough geography for now. I’ll give you pictures when I start exploring for myself. For some of you, perhaps, you’ll be able to see it on your own!

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