Delicious BBQ places everywhere, most of them with outdoor sitting (living in Tokyo really makes you miss outdoors eating). The moment you sit at a table, they’ll bring a dozen dishes of miscellaneous sauces, appetisers and kimchi before you even get around to order.
Hongdae (Seoul’s hip student-oriented neighbourhood) is really awesome to walk around, day or night. Cozy coffeeshops everywhere, open way into the night.
Gangnam and its more upscale locales is also an interesting neighbourhood to get a feel of what young startup-oriented Koreans are up to.
Hangul is so nice and easy to learn (compared to the common sense blackhole that is kana/kanji) that I found myself able to decipher restaurant menus by the end of the weekend. And yes: Korea has its equivalent to Katakana English, and it is occasionally just as hard to guess. Still is nice to be nearly-literate without spending years sweating over kanji lists.
In contrast to Japanese women, Korean female fashion is refreshingly more adult: lot less reliance on girly pink frills and other accessories intent on making one look like a prepubescent doll.
On the other hand, Korean male twenty-somethings seem a lot more into the asexual boyish boys-band look than their Japanese counterparts. At least for those that eschew the cookie-cutter preppy hipster look (guys: there’s more to life than round glasses, bowl cuts and capri pants).
I loved trying to figure the original hanja beneath random hangul words and often realising how close they were to the equivalent Japanese word. Once you realise that 대학 (‘university’) is spelt 大學, just like in Japanese, the name “Hongdae” makes a lot more sense (as do a lot of other words with ‘dae’ in them).
Even though very little planning went into the dates for this trip, it turns out that late-September Autumn was the absolute perfect time, weather-wise, to enjoy Seoul and its plentiful outdoor drinking&eating (never spent any serious time there in the Winter, but I am told, and can easily believe, that it is no fun at all).