October 3 Myeongdong Cathedral and Seoul, South Korea

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Seoul Tower in Seoul, South Korea

We went to see Seoul Tower on the afternoon of October 2nd, but my blog entry for that day was so long that I thought I should write about it in this entry instead. We only had half a day, due to travel time, on the 3rd, so this entry is not as long.

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Jeff is standing in front of double flower hearts at the base of the Seoul Tower

Baekje, one of the ancient Three Kingdoms of Korea, was founded in 18 BC, with its capital at Wiryeseong in the Seoul area. There are several city walls remain in the area dating from this time, and Pungnap Toseong, an earthen wall just outside Seoul, is widely believed to be the main Wiryeseong site. We did not get to see the historic earthen wall, but this one near the Seoul Tower was built during the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty period.

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Old wall from the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty Period near the Seoul Tower

We took a bus up to the Seoul Tower. The bus took a very roundabout way up the mountain, so we got to see a lot of Seoul downtown from the bus.

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Interesting building in downtown Seoul

In the 11th century, the  Goryeo Dynasty, which succeeded Unified Silla Dynasty, built a palace in Seoul, which was referred to as the Southern Capital. When the Joseon Dynasty replaced the Goryeo Dynasty, the capital was moved to Seoul, where it remained until the fall of the dynasty. During the Joseon period, beginning in 1394, it was the capital, called Hanyang.Originally, the city was entirely surrounded by a massive circular wall to provide its citizens security from attacks. All that remains of the wall the wall is the South and East gates near the downtown district of Seoul.

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The South Gate  (Namsan) of the Seoul Wall

The N Seoul Tower, officially the YTN Seoul Tower,  is a communication and observation tower located on Namsam Mountain in central Seoul. It marks the highest point in Seoul.

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Ann is standing next to a statue of the “Seoul Tower Mascot”. He is very cute-notice the wings!

Built in 1969, and at a cost of approximately $2.5 million, the tower was opened to the public in 1980. Since then, the tower has been a landmark of Seoul. It measures 236.7 meters (777 feet) in height from the base and tops out at 479.7 meters (1,574 feet) above sea level.

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View from the top of the Seoul Tower, looking down at the Han River which runs through Seoul

WE arrived at the Seoul Tower at sunset, and stayed for dinner in the restaurant at the top of the tower.

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Ann is standing in front of a window in the observatory at the top of the Seoul Tower

So we got to see the city all lit up at night during and after dinner.

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Buildings in Seoul at night, as seen from the Seoul Tower

This is a photo of the men’s bathroom in the observatory level of the Seoul Tower. Jeff said that iy was likely the fanciest men’s bathroom that he had ever seen! The women’s bathroom was not so impressive.

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Fancy bathroom in the observatory level of the Seoul Tower

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The Seoul Tower lit up with blue lights at nighttime

National Foundation Day is on October 3 every year in Korea. This day commemorates the founding of the Korean nation in 2333 B.C. by the legendary god-king Dangun. A simple ceremony is held on top of Manisan Mountain in South Korea every year on October 3. This is supposed to be the place that Dangun went to offer thanks to his father and grandfather in heaven. Everywhere else in Korea. they just hang up flags and get the day off! As we were there on October 3, we saw a lot of South Korean flags everywhere. There were always two flags, not just one. I think they were making a statement about the two countries (North and South) being one.

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South Korean flags on a pole in Seoul on October 3 for National Day.

Still, National Day is not always a good time to be a visitor, because many places are closed for the holiday. The desk staff at our hotel told Jeff that we should go see Myeongdong Cathedral, as it was never closed. It was fairly close to our hotel, so we walked over to see it on the morning of October 3 before we left Korea.

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Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, South Korea

The Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception also known as Myeongdong Cathedral, is located in the Myedong neighborhood of Seoul. The cathedral is a landmark and the most notable example of Gothic Revival architecture in Korea. The main building rises to 23 meters high, while the steeple, which contains a clock, rises to 45 meters high. It was designated  National Historic Site 258 in November 1977

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Inside of the Myeongdong Cathedral

Christianity was heavily persecuted during the Joseon Dynasty in Korea. Still, interest in it grew. Catholicism gained ground as a belief in the 19th century through the work of French missionaries. Many of these missionaries were killed in 1886.

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A painting showing missionaries and early Christians inside the Myeongdong Cathedral

After the Joseon dynasty signed a treaty with the United States in 1882, the Bishop of Korea sought land to build a mission. He acquired a vacant lot and planned to build a church under the supervision of French priest Eugene Coste

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A statue of the Bishop of Korea inside of Myeongdong Cathedral

Emperor Gojong held the ceremony of laying the first stone on August 5, 1892. Construction cost around US $60,000. Because of the First Sino-Japanese War, and the subsequent death of Father Coste, the inauguration of the cathedral was postponed for several years.

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View of the altar in Myeongdong Cathedral

On May 29, 1898, it was finally dedicated. At that time, it was the largest building in Seoul. In 1900, the relics of the Korean Martyrs who died in the 1866 persecution were moved to its crypt.

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A stained glass window in Myeongdong Cathedral

The Roman Catholic clergy were among the leading critics of South Korea’s military rule in the 1970s and 1980s. Myeongdong Cathedral became a center of political and labor protest as well as a sanctuary for the protesters. Catholic and future President Kim Dae-Jung held a rally at the cathedral in 1976 to demand the resignation of President Park Chung Hee, and some 600 student-led protesters staged  hunger strike inside in 1987.

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Ann is standing next to a monument telling of the history of Myeongdong Cathedral

Here is a photo of our hotel, taken from the small park in front of it. Our hotel was not a fancy, five star hotel, but it was right in the center of Seoul. e couls see the Seoul Tower on Namsan Mountain from our hotel.

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Jeff is standing by a statue in a park, withDysan Residence Hotel in Seoul, South Korea behind him

Here is the “Cute photo of the day.” This poster was on construction barriers everywhere in Seoul. It is supposed to be a drawing of the Gyeongbokgung Palace guardian statue (is it supposed to be a lion? or dog?) The statue does not look scary or fierce, and the drawing (with the silly smile) makes it look even cuter!

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Drawing of a statue of the Gyeongbokgung Palace guardian that was on many construction barrier walls in Seoul, South Korea

“Stay out or I will smile at you!”

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Close up of the sign

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