Q: Quick explanation of the photo selected (taken during your trip to Korea) and why it is chosen as the image of Korea
A: As an architect who travels a lot, I have a keen eye for the different architecture styles in different cities. I am greatly inspired by South Korea for its architecture dynamism that you can find in the city.
Seoul is a megapolis that advances excellently in technology, yet it has a very consistent presence of memories from the past. From the food to its people’s tradition and also to its ancient architectures scattered around the city. I enjoy walking along the streets of Seoul because one moment I find myself being in a traditional village and just another short walk would lead me to a completely different atmosphere. Each turn is like a new discovery!
I have selected these images to clearly justify my statement above: the polarity of a city. The DongDaeMun Design Plaza designed by Zaha Hadid (right image) is a representation of the modernized city of Seoul, while on the contrary, the roof of the ancient GyeongBokGung Palace (left image) represents the preservation of the past.
Q: Was there anything that made you surprised while you were visiting Korea
A: The people were extremely friendly, well-mannered, educated and welcoming. I also have a long experience working with Koreans in my career, and I always enjoyed working with them! I am also amazed by the young generations in Seoul for their dynamism and creativity as compared to many other cities.
Q: How would you describe the memory of Korea to your friend who never visited the country?
A: I would describe Korea as a place that is still strongly rooted to its culture but there are no limitations to the different experience one can experience in this inspiring city. The people are nice, the city is inspiring and the vibe is so fresh and positive.
Q: Is there any spot – specific restaurant or neighborhood that you’d like to recommend?
A: I would definitely recommend visits to the royal palaces and local temples as it is something so historical yet still relevant to the modern Korean culture. I am amazed by the oriental architecture of the Korean dynasties but also the preservation efforts made until today in order to retain its original looks. Pay special attention to the crafts on these historical buildings and you might find very interesting sculptures! Some are so hidden that you might need help from a local guide.
A neighborhood that I will definitely recommend is Itaewon for its trendy restaurants and bars. The people here are from all over the world and hence, the food in this neighborhood has the fusion between traditional Korean dishes and other cuisines, which I find really interesting to my taste.