Asia,  Seoul,  South Korea,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #6: War Memorial Hall of Korea, Barbecue, Lenses and Shopping

Hello, today I’m making you discover the nuggets and experiences we had in Seoul, which I haven’t told you about in the previous travel diaries

It doesn’t follow any logic, all these discoveries are distributed in different areas of Seoul. Let’s get started!

War memorial hall of korea

Our airbnb is located between Yongsan station and Itaewon, not far from the US military base. It is also in this area that the War Memorial Hall of Korea is located (free entrance)

We went there, attracted especially by the planes, vehicles and boats outside

The interior is huge, just to go from one room to another, it took us 2 hours. I must admit that we aren’t the type to read explanations etc. The only thing I remember from this visit is the long corridor where thousands of names of soldiers who died because of different wars are engraved. Realizing that each tiny line represents a life sacrificed, it brought tears to my eyes


I realize I haven’t told you about the Korean barbecue yet. I think it’s the only dish that keeps me alive in South Korea 😀 It’s really good and since the meat isn’t marinated, it’s not spicy. It has NOTHING to do with the barbecue they sell in Korean restaurants abroad. Here, everything is cooked on charcoal please

So, a good barbecue restaurant should look like this: charcoal put in a hole in the middle of the table with a grill on top. Above each table is a retractable hood. Everything is super clean, even if the atmosphere is ALWAYS noisy, because the Koreans drink soju in a group, talking loudly

The presence of this hood should make you understand right away that this is a barbecue restaurant

Most of the time, you have to order first and then the coal is delivered to your table. But there are restaurants where the coal is already there, so you have to be very careful. JB has already burned his knee when he touched the center leg of the table. Normally it is protected, but not in this restaurant

The meat is cooked either by us or by the waitress. In general, we don’t know in advance. In some restaurants, the waitress only takes care of the meat when there are few customers

I have the impression that most restaurants serve pork, beef, or chicken. We only saw one restaurant serving fish

Chicken is usually marinated (and spiced), while pork and beef aren’t . In the picture below, you see on the left side spicy chicken, and on the right side chicken legs (boneless, and much too spicy)

It’s quite difficult to order in a barbecue restaurant because the menu is often in Korean, and even with the instantaneous translation of Google Translate, we can’t imagine how the shoulder piece will be better than the breast

Now, with experience, we know that: if the portion costs between 12,000won and 16,000won, it is either pork or chicken. If the portion costs more than 20,000won, it’s beef. And generally, we take rib-eye, or the most expensive portion from the restaurant 😀 Be careful, for pork, you can also have portions of pork offal, so be very careful what you order

In this kind of restaurants, in general, you have to order at least 2 portions, and you have to be at least 2 (given the effort to bring you the coal and clean the grid afterwards). All side dishes (kimchi, radishes etc.) are provided. Sometimes rice and salad are included, sometimes not

To eat, it is very simple, we put meat in a leaf of salad (or sesame) + a little sauce, and we eat all that. It’s good to take in addition a bowl of rice because the portions of meat are rather thin

My head after having tasted the ultra spicy chicken legs…

At first, JB and I had a lot of trouble grilling the meat. It is either too slow to cook or burnt. And then, by observing the locals, we understand that

  • when one gives us a large piece (200g for ex), it is necessary to cut it immediately in small pieces with the scissors then to leave them on the edge of the grid which is less hot.
  • then take 3-4 pieces and put them in the center, turn them over 2-3 times and eat them right away

You have to cook the meat as you eat, and not cook everything and eat it all at once as you like to do (I admit that we are super greedy)

The retractable hood is also very practical. It can be pulled all the way down to avoid odours

If you’re looking for a good, inexpensive barbecue restaurant, go to Hwangto Charcoal Grilled Meat in Itaewon

grilled fish for lunch

Not very far from us, JB found an area where there are only fish restos, one of which is very well noted on Tripadvisor. For 8000 won per person, we have all that to eat

Seaweed leaves are eaten like this: you put some on rice and with the chopsticks, you take a piece of rice wrapped by the seaweed

Grilled fish is super good, but the problem comes from the side-dishes, which are all more spicy. At least it gives us an idea of a complete Korean meal

Myeong-dong Chicken

We were told to absolutely test fried chicken, it’s better than KFC etc. We decide to have lunch in a well rated restaurant on Tripadvisor in Myeong-dong

The couple next door, who arrived before us, keeps looking at us. It annoys me, people who have nothing to do at the restaurant, and who look at their neighbors!

And then, after finding our chicken disgusting, we wonder why the waitress only gives us part of our order; and why she gives us the chicken breast instead of the thighs?

It all makes sense! The neighbors look at us because they notice that we are eating THEIR dish 🙂 that the waitress made a mistake, and that they hesitate to order other things because of our depressed head after the first bite


After this disgusting meal, we tell ourselves that we will have to show up the next time we have a doubt, even if it means sending the plate back. On this, we console ourselves as much as we can. First with a quick trip to Jetoy’s shop, which sells cute souvenirs with the image of the muse Chouchou, the designer’s cat

Chouchou in “la fille à la perle”, chouchou as “monalisa” …. it’s to die of laughter !

I resist my temptation to rob the whole store, buying only a few postcards, which I put next to my desk

Cat cafe

Then we go to a chat café. Seoul is full of themed cafes. There are cafes for cats, puppies, racoons, meerkats and even sheep

I sincerely think it is the best cat café I have ever visited. It really respects cats. They have access to food at will and have rest areas that are inaccessible to customers in case the cats want to rest

From time to time, the waiters give the customers a little swill, which they can give to the cats. But under no circumstances can we buy the pâtée ourselves

Most of the cats are purebred including a Bengal, a British Shorthair, an Abyssinian and two Sphynx

Name : Godabang Cat Cafe, 6th floor

Entrance fee (including a drink) is 9000won/person


In Myeongdong there is also the Artbox store, which sells a whole case of things that are too cute, not necessarily useful, but not expensive and can help out if you are looking for a gift

The socks

The socks sold in Seoul are also very nice. In Seoul, there are whole stores selling only socks. They cost only 1,000won a pair. But they are so nice, comfortable and good quality that a friend of mine to whom I gave these socks wrote to me to ask me where I bought them. She told me that they are the only ones that fit her feet well without hurting her

Ewha University

In South Korea, there are still universities for girls/boys only. Ewha University is a girls-only university. It is one of the top universities (ranked 9th this year). The few boys on campus are flirting with a female student there, using bubble tea or other cool drinks

I went there at the beginning to do some shopping, because there are a lot of stores next door. But when I saw the university, I was stunned

Look at that! It looks like Europe! And look at this famous staircase, instead of two glass buildings

Founded by an American missionary of the Methodist Episcopalian Church, Ewha was the first Korean educational institute for women. Right at the entrance to the campus, there is an information center in the basement, where one can register for a free tour of the campus (every day at 2:00 p.m. in English). The tour must be booked at least 3 days in advance. The school uniform, souvenirs with the school logo, etc. can also be purchased there. Not only tourists go there, but also female students. Wearing your school uniform in South Korea is a source of pride – and has many advantages: larger portions in restaurants e.g.:D

Koreans work hard. It’s not a good idea to study at a Korean high school because the university entrance exam is extremely difficult. They have had private tutoring since early childhood (often until midnight), and can only take some of the pressure off when they go to university

However, even at university, the competition is at its peak. There are core subjects and subjects to improve one’s grades. For major subjects, even if you pass 90% of the exam, you will not necessarily get 18/20. In fact, the grade depends on the other students as well. To reflect the student’s ability vs. the others and to facilitate the recruitment of companies (which necessarily want the best), only xx% of the students can achieve an A grade, the others, despite their excellent results, will have to have a B grade, and so on

Moreover, it isn’t enough to have a good CV, but also a pretty face. The photo on the CV is mandatory. It is better to be pleasant to look at, among the thousands of good CVs and good students

In any case, when I set foot in Ewha, I immediately feel that we are in a much higher social environment, there is a perfume of elitism 😀 Around me, the girls are even more distinguished than those crossed near Hongik University, more classy, prettier, better dressed

Miniature Houses

This isn’t a Korean product, but I found it in a Korean bookstore. I’ve always dreamed of having a miniature house and if possible, make one myself

It’s the first time I’ve seen kits like this. All the houses have battery-operated lights (the height of luxury)!! I opt for the florist’s store because I fell in love with its canopy

After 2 full days, I can only do that, that’s 1/3 of the florist’s store

I send the picture to my sister and we realize, she is at the other end of the world (in France), that she is making exactly the same house and that she bought the kit on Amazon 😀 ahahhaa

Line shop & Cafe

Address: LINE Friends Cafe & Store
27 Dosan-daero 13-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Here we are in another themed café, that of the instant messaging application Line, which is widely used in Asia. This app has famous characters like Ryan (the bear)… It is a little less popular in South Korea, who prefers Kakao Talk

In this store, we have 3 parts: the shop, the photo corner and the café. I only went to see the photo corner. If you have an Instagram account, come here and you won’t be disappointed!

Contact Lenses

Still in the same neighborhood (Garosu-gil), I came across a store selling contact lenses. In Asia, contact lenses are in vogue, because they allow to slightly change the color of the eyes (asians all have brown eyes, it’s too boring), and especially… enlarge the pupil, which gives doll’s eyes. They call that “circle lenses”

I’m not interested in “circle lenses” because I find it too alien. But colored lenses, why not? I’m talking to the saleswoman. She shows me a tray containing lenses bathed in an aqueous solution

And then, she takes me out… hold on tight… 3 false eyes. Imagine the eyes cut into slices (so that the bottom is flat). Just the sight of these false eyes is enough to faint. Then, she takes a pair of pliers and puts the lenses on these false eyes. As we are in Asia, the false eyes are all brown, so we can see better the effect given by the colored lens when it will be put on my eyes

Even these lenses have corrections! I could buy them without a prescription, I was just asked for the correction I wanted. And the lenses are also available in monthly, 15-day versions… And you can even ask for a tax refund on your purchases. I left with 30 daily lenses of the ACUVUE brand for 45,000won. Monthly lenses cost about 60,000won for 6 months


As I leave the store, I meet a girl who has just been operated on to have double eyelids. I almost fainted because the vision scared me so much. Her eyelids were completely swollen. In Gangnam, it’s very common to run into girls who have just been on the pool table. They seem to be proud to have money for plastic surgery, proud to show that they will soon be very beautiful

A friend told me that she saw a girl whose face was BLUE because of the V-line operation taking the subway (this operation consists of removing part of the bone from your jaws, anyway!!!). But in a country where beauty is so important, where parents offer their children cosmetic operations as soon as they turn 18, this horror vision, especially in Seoul, is inevitable

Note: the bb cream was invented in South Korea, especially for this! So that the girls, freshly operated, can go out in the street with a fresh complexion


Finally, the EXCO in Gangnam, where the G20 was held a few years ago, is being explored. It is also a place with several shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants..

I discover with amazement a huge bookstore (Starfield) in the heart of the mall. As in all bookstores in South Korea, there are tables where you can sit down to consult the books for free. In France, if it was possible, everyone would have read only manga/BD. But here, people are really serious and read real books 😀

We have lunch in a sushi restaurant with conveyor belt. In spite of a quality clearly superior to those found in France, we are super disappointed. We still have in mind the real Japanese sushi… eaten in Osaka and Tokyo

Here, not only the sushi has no wasabi inside, but also the rice is less well marinated

What’s impressive is the touch tablet that allows you to place custom orders. These orders are then delivered via the carpet, on red plates (with the number of our table on it). These red plates are geolocalized because when they aren’t far away, the tablet tells us so

I’m finishing my long travel diary here. See you soon for the rest!

Did you like this article? Discover all our Seoul & Jeju travel diaries:

Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #1 : Discovery of Myeongdong & Lotus Lantern Festival
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #2: Namdaemun Market, Namsangol Hanok Village and Gangnam
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #3: Changdeokgung Palace, Insadong, Noryangjin Fish Market, Hongdae, Namsan Tower, Seoul City Tour Bus
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #4: Seoul with friends
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #5 : Lotte World, tickets, flagship attractions, magic pass
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #6: War Memorial Hall of Korea, Barbecue, Lenses and Shopping
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #7: Marinated raw crab, Gilsangsa Temple, Suyeonsanbang, shopping in Myeong-dong
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #8: B2B Market, Palais Royal, Notre-Dame de Paris, Barbecues

Practical Guide to Seoul
Seoul Shopping Guide
Guide to Cosmetics to buy in South Korea

Travel Diary Jeju Island (South Korea) #1
Travel Diary Jeju Island (South Korea) #2
Travel Diary Jeju Island (South Korea) #3

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