Korean Words to Describe the Best Sightseeing Spots in Korea! – written for Language Vine

A version of this blog can be found on Language Vine

Korean Words to Describe the Best Sightseeing Spots in Korea!

The city of Seoul, South Korea is one of the most populated, in number and density, on the planet. It is an extremely modern city, offering giant department stores, sky scrapers, mega malls, 3D movie complexes, art museums, aquariums, amusement parks, professional sports, and much more.

But some of my favorite sights are those that have been around for a long, long time. Mountains, rivers, temples, streams, palaces…There are many beautiful and interesting placed to visit. And fortunately, with a little research and general knowledge of the Korean language, you can navigate the subway maps and plethora of online directions to locate all of the attractions Korea has to offer with ease.

Start with learning the commonly used suffix terms. Most signs list both the Korean and corresponding English words. Here are the five I find most useful, with some suggestions to get you started.

San is the Korean word for mountain. For example, Bukhansan means Bukhan mountain. Seventy percent of the Korean Peninsula is considered mountainous, and consequently, the people are passionate about hiking. I’ve hiked all over South Korea, and some of my favorite trails are right here in Seoul.

Inwangsan is located just outside of downtown. From atop the mountain, you can see Cheongwadae, also known as the Blue House. The official office and residence of the head of state, the Blue House is the Korean equivalent of the American White House. Gyeongbokgung, the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty, is also visible. Gyeongbokgung has an important place in the history of Korea, and it is nice segue in to the next word.

Gung is the Korean word for palace. Deoksugung can be found on the other side of Gwanghwamun Square from Gyeongbokgung. The grounds at Deoksugung are smaller and easier to navigate than larger palaces, and its central location across the street from Seoul Plaza and City Hall offers a peaceful, convenient escape from hectic city life.

Gang is the Korean word for river. The mighty Hangang separates Seoul into North and South. In the warmer months, the many parks that line the river on both sides are great places to picnic, to exercise along the network of bike and running paths, and to enjoy brightly colored bridge fountains at night. The evening river cruise in Yeouido is my favorite thing to do on the river, offering a great view of the city from the water.

Cheon is the Korean word for stream. Cheonggyecheon is probably my #1 place to visit in Seoul. After the Korean War, it was covered with concrete because of the deteriorated condition of the area. However in 2005, then mayor of Seoul and current President of Korea, Lee Myung-bak succeeded in a giant urban renewal project to preserve the natural environment and identity of the stream. It’s now a beautiful place of nature in the middle of the city.

Sa is the Korean word for temple. There are several Buddhist temples in Seoul, offering solitude and comfort in meditation. I frequently return to Bongeunsa in Gangnam to take photos and admire the history and beauty. There you can find the largest statue of Buddha in Korea. It is an impressive 23 meters high!

The places mentioned above are all found in Seoul, but Korea is covered with mountains, rivers, streams, temples, and palaces. Grab your backpack, camera, hiking boots, and sunscreen and discover them all for yourself!


~ by ripcitytoseoul on July 8, 2010.

4 Responses to “Korean Words to Describe the Best Sightseeing Spots in Korea! – written for Language Vine”

  1. Hi, nice article. Glad to see you enjoy many of the same Korean things I do. For the sake of accuracy, I’d like to point out something minor. As you mentioned, Gang, San, Gung, Cheon and Sa are common suffix terms meaning river, mountain, palace, stream and temple respectively. While gang, san and gung stand-alone words, cheon and sa are not. What the 5 terms have in common is that they’re the Korean pronunciations of the Chinese characters which mean river, mountain, etc. The Korean words for stream and temple are Nae and Jeol. For example, if you were to say “Hanguk-e sa-deul-eun areumdawoyo.” (Korea’s temples are beautiful.), there would be a small chance of being understood. Also, better words for palace are gungjeon or gungwol. Hope this was helpful.

    Nice blog. Write on!
    Cheers. RT

    • Thanks a lot, and good looken’ out. Definitely appreciated. Always wanting to learn more and more about how to accurately communicate while I’m living here.

  2. very interesting . . . .
    good place in picture….
    i will go to this place someday . . . . . .

  3. hoping someday I can visit South Korea (sa rang he)

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