[Interview] Visit Seoul's Japanese Editor

See & Do Tours

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Visit Seoul is the official travel guide and website for the city of Seoul. Visit Seoul's website is offered in several languages, including Japanese. Visit Seoul’s Japanese editor Eriko translates the website's Japanese content from Korean and she also goes out into the field in order to gather information about Seoul’s best tourist attractions. Learn more about Eriko and her favorite Seoul spots, and her recommendations for solo travelers to the city.


Q. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Eriko and I’m Visit Seoul’s Japanese editor. I’m from Japan and worked in an art museum in Japan. Because I was interested primarily in Asian art, I grew interested in Korea. Eventually, I decided to study abroad in Korea and now, I’ve been living in Seoul for 8 years. My interest in Korea started with art, and now I translate and write articles about Seoul.


Q. You’ve lived in Seoul for a long time now, how do you spend your leisure time?

I like to go for walks and try out new restaurants. When I go for walks, my favorite thing to do is go to walk in areas with interesting architecture. It’s also nice to go for a stroll in a cool neighborhood that’s full of unique shops and restaurants. I usually soak in the atmosphere and take pictures to put on Instagram. My time exploring Seoul is really useful for my job as Visit Seoul's Japanese editor too. Whenever Japanese visitors send queries about where to go in Seoul, I'm always ready with recommendations. I like to tailor my responses on how familiar they already are with Seoul as a destination.


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Q. Tell us about your favorite Seoul attractions and places.

① Yeongcheon Market : It’s a traditional market located between Seodaemun and Dongnnimun and it was renovated not too long ago. The market has many food stalls, and the ssal tteok-bokki (spicy rice cakes) and the kkwabaegi (twisted bread stick) are particularly good. Food is a great way to experience Seoul. The market bustles with life and if you get lucky, you can sometimes spot cats that guard some of the market’s fish stalls.

② Changdeokgung Palace : Seoul has 5 palaces, but Changdeokgung Palace is the only one that was designed and built to be in harmony with its surroundings. I’d recommend taking a guided tour of the palace to fully experience the history of the place. Taking a palace tour is the only way to see Nakjeonjae Hall, the living quarters of the last princess of Joseon, Princess Deokhye. Booking a tour is also the only way visitors can see the Secret Garden, which shouldn’t be missed.

③ Seoul Dulle-gil : The Seoul Dulle-gil is comprised of 8 different hiking trails throughout the city and when measured, they total 157km in length. The scenery is different with each season, and you can see great panoramas of the city while walking the trails. Walking Seoul on foot is an experience you won’t forget, and all of the courses are gentle so you don’t have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy yourself.


Q. What would you recommend to people who’ve visited Seoul before?

For visitors who aren’t first-timers, I’d recommend starting in Huam-dong and going to Haebangchon from there. Huam-dong is located near Namsan Mountain and from Huam-dong, it’s very easy to walk to Seoul Station. This area is full of modern history as many buildings here were built during the 1920s. A lot of the buildings are still intact and because they're seen as part of Seoul's cultural heritage, they've been left mostly untouched. There are even Japanese-style houses that are still in use today. It’s hilly here, so another option is to take the green bus (Yongsan bus no. 2). It can be an adrenaline rush taking the bus since the roads here are so narrow and winding. 

The entry to Namsan Tunnel No. 3, starts here in Huam-dong and runs all the way to Noksapyeong Station which is right next to Haebangchon. Haebangchone has an old school atmosphere with lots of great restaurants and cafes. There are lots of tiny, unique cafes and restaurants with great atmosphere and visitors can have fun in Haebangchon.


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Q. Trying local food is a big part of traveling. Is there any one food dish that you would recommend?

I don’t want to recommend a particular food since what people consider “good” depends on their personal preferences. Instead, I’d like to recommend a place. A bar is a great spot for anyone who’s in the mood for a drink before heading back home or to your accommodation. Though there are lots of bars in Seoul, with even hotels having a bar on-site, I’d recommend going to a hanok bar. Hanok bars (a bar in a traditional Korean house) are unique to Seoul and you can’t get an authentic hanok experience outside of Korea. Hanok bars are a great way to unwind and enjoy a drink in a relaxing atmosphere.


Q. Do you have any recommendations or tips for solo travelers to Seoul?

Avoiding traffic congestion is important! It’s such a waste if you’ve come to Seoul to have fun and sightsee but you end up stuck in traffic. I recommend taking the subway instead of a taxi during the morning and evening rush hours. Most visitors will end up looking for souvenirs or gifts. I’d recommend buying convenience store snacks. Japanese convenience stores also have good products, but Korean convenience stores carry snacks that aren’t sold anywhere else. Another cool thing is that Korean brands will take a certain snack then expand their product line based on that one snack. So, for instance, there might be a popular type of cookie and that will then get made into an ice cream, drink, or jelly candy that tastes exactly like that cookie. Instead of old favorites like gim (laver) and kimchi, try giving some new Korean snacks as souvenirs or gifts. A Korean convenience store snack is a great way to take a piece of Seoul home with you.