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Seoul (Seoul Selection Guides) Paperback – September 30, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Koehler is a 34-year-old (as of 2009) executive editor of a Seoul-based culture and lifestyle magazine. A native Long Islander and a graduate of Georgetown University, Robert has lived in Korea since 1997, mostly as an English teacher, graduate student and newspaper translator. When he's not at work, Robert can usually be found at his home in Seoul's multicultural Itaewon neighborhood spending quality time with his loving wife Solongo or traveling around Korea snapping photos--he has a particular fondness for early-modern and colonial-era architecture.

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Product Details

  • Series: Seoul Selection Guides
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Seoul Selection USA, Inc. (September 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 899191358X
  • ISBN-13: 978-8991913585
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Finally, Seoul gets a guidebook that matches its magnificence

My wife and I have lived in Seoul now for 5 months, yet have found all of the guidebooks about Seoul limited to cliché tourist spots, pockets of expat existence, and repetitive babbling about how exotic it is without ever giving any real background information. And few offer photos to help you plan your way. And the maps look like something a passerby might draw for you on an ATM receipt.

This book is nothing like that.

I received the book as a present this week, and it is a practical guide to Seoul and surrounding environs, and at the same time passes as a mini-coffee table book - the quality is just fantastic, both in photography, content, and print durability.

We particularly like the very well designed maps, which are similar to those in the Seoul magazine published by the city. They point out the major points of interest in full color and miniature depictions of landmarks, making it very easy to navigate the most cramped marketplaces.

The guide also tells a story. I get the feeling this book respects my intelligence and offers a deeper level of information that I have had to suffer with the Lonely Planet Seoul guide.

This book is very readable as well. You will feel as if you are stepping into the pages of a travel magazine - literally - as you visit each location listed in the book.

Finally, if you are moving to Seoul or just visiting, you will definitely want this book. With the other books, I felt like I was dealing with a brick of newsprint, but this books makes this megacity come alive and more accessible.

Highly recommended!
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I just returned from a trip to Seoul, and I'd recommend this guide with some caveats.

The best aspect of this book is its thorough description of different neighborhoods in Seoul with pictures that help give a flavor of different parts of the city. Maps are overall helpful (more on Seoul maps below) and I appreciated the "best of" lists at the beginning of the book. This is the best guidebook for Seoul based on my experience with other other Seoul travel guides (Lonely Planet, Moon) that other family members purchased, none of which came even close in terms of the depth found in Koehler's guide.

However, as much as I enjoyed reading Koehler's guide, the practicality of the book is a problem. First, before I left, I reviewed the language section with a Korean-speaking coworker, and she was not impressed. Although the book provided "useful expressions," saying them was another problem as the author did not describe how to pronounce different vowel combinations or consonants used in the romanization of hangeul. Second, the book lacks logistic details. For example, hotel descriptions were weak and details regarding visiting the DMZ were lacking compared to other guidebooks. I'd refer to other guidebooks or the internet to plan the logistics of your travel. Third, although Koehler provides "best of" lists, I don't think he was critical enough about his description of things to see or do in Seoul that you felt you could prioritize neighborhoods or sightseeing locales. As much as his book has a lot of depth, you may not have a great idea of what to do or see first beyond the "best of" lists provided by the author. Finally, let's talk about food. For many foreigners, their major entry into Korean culture is through food, and I know for me, I was excited about trying authentic cuisine.
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Format: Paperback
I have lived in New York all my adult life. This past October, I returned to Seoul to explore my native city on my own. I remember Seoul, but because of my long absence from her, I needed a guide book just like a foreign tourist. Seoul indeed felt like another foreign city to me. Look at the metro system, new high rise buildings and private apartments, restaurants, shops, boutiques, book shops, tea rooms, galleries, museums, parks ... change is everywhere. There are several tourist guide books on Seoul/Korea on the market. They cover all the obvious things such as palaces and museums. Seoul Selection, however, proved to be the best guide for me. What makes Seoul Selection different from all the others is the fact that its editor, Robert Koehler, makes the book a personal odyssey and it reveals his passion for Korean life - digging into what Korea is, its history, and traces of its past in a rapidly changing cosmopolitan urban city. Like a Parisien "flaneur", he lives in the city and loves exploring Seoul. He sees in Seoul things that many natives overlook. One example is his introduction of Buam-Dong in the Kang Buk quarter. It is not far from Sam Chong Dong and Insadong, but Buam-Dong is a pocket of tranquility. I had never heard of Buam-Dong so I spent a whole day from breakfast, lunch, tea to early dinner, walking, stopping, writing, painting. Perhaps, like Montmarte in Paris in the early 20th century, Buam-Dong felt somewhat separate from the rest of Seoul. In Korea, Robert Koehler is called a "Seoul Tobagi" meaning a real native Seoulite, born, raised and living in Seoul. In other words, he knows all about Seoul but goes beyond the obvious features to explore its heart. This is what sets the book apart in my view. The book also consists of easy to follow texts, handsome photos, directions, maps, and plenty of references to Seoul history. It is perfect for someone like me that wants something more than a mere guidebook.
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