Seoul City Profile
It's often said that one-third of the population of South Korea resides in Seoul and the remaining two-thirds want to move there.
The northwest of South Korea
Seoul's weather matches that of the other cities in South Korea, but has the unfortunate addition of severe air pollution, which can make the especially humid times of year even more uncomfortable.
Seoul is serviced internationally by air and is essentially the gateway for all travel in South Korea. Bus service to other cities in the country is quite good as well. Most buses leaving Seoul depart from the Kangnam Express Bus Terminal, where signs and information can be found in English.
For those who don't speak Korean, the subway is probably the best method for getting around the city. The Seoul subway system is fast, cheap, and comfortable with signs and information in English. City buses run frequently, but information in English is sparse, so ask at your hostel or school which bus line you should take.
Places of Interest
Tongdaemun (east gate) and Namdaemun (south gate) both have interesting markets and inexpensive shopping. Insadon-gil, a street in north Seoul, features antiques, folk crafts, art galleries, and several good restaurants. Hye Hwa is a college area, where you're likely to find coffee shops, several theaters, and inexpensive restaurants. Other places to visit include Kyongbok Palace, Nam San Tower, National Folklore Museum, Chogysea Temple, the War Memorial Museum, and Lotte World.
The areas around Seoul also have several areas of interest: you can take a USO tour in the DMZ, go hiking, or visit Inch'on, a town on the east coast that has a fish market and amusement park rides.
The Hollywood Club features alternative music and a predominantly English teacher crowd, and the Nashville Club is a "foreigners only" country bar with good, reasonably priced burgers. On "Hooker Hill" you're likely to find a mix of prostitutes, military personnel, teachers, models, foreign and U.S. business people, and vacationing Russians. There are several bars there, many of which cater to military personnel but anyone can go in. Stompers plays a lot of oldies and hard rock, and Just Blues usually has a live band that plays music in the Eric Clapton vein.
The Kyobo bookstore near the Chonggak subway stop has a large selection of English books in all genres, as does Kim & Johnson near Tower records off of the Kangnam subway stop. Itaewon is a foreigners' area for shopping and entertainment - you're likely to encounter members of the ex-pat community there.
For such a large city, Seoul is fairly safe if you use common sense. Sit in the back of cabs when traveling alone, meet strangers in public places and/or with a friend, and don't go to someone's house or business alone if you're not sure of the person.