N Seoul Tower – Seoul's most recognizable landmark
So, according to an article I read, it appears that the most popular sport for Koreans to participate in is hiking. It makes perfect sense. Korea is mostly mountains! In fact, there’s a pretty amazing and easy mountain to climb right in the middle of Seoul! For lazy people, you can take a bus up to the cable car station, then ride the cable car up to N Seoul Tower. After walking a few steps, you’ll be at the top of the mountain. Of course that’s not really mountain climbing. If you’d like to take a more strenuous route, then you can take the stairs up the side of the mountain. It will take you a good 15 or 20 minutes to get up there and your legs will be awfully tired. If you’re someone like me who doesn’t get as much exercise as he should
Anyway, we can agree that Namsan doesn’t count as mountain climbing. However, the view of Myeongdong, (The central business and shopping district in Seoul) below is quite nice, especially at night. And of course, for you tourists out there, you’ll probably want to buy a ticket to go up into N Seoul Tower. I think the cost is around 10,000 won (US$ 8.7) and once you go up there you’ll be able to see the whole city and beyond, if it is a clear day. Don’t worry, unlike Tokyo Tower, you won’t be asked to pay again once inside. The admission fee will get you all the way to the top.
Even so, I have to be honest and say that the part I enjoyed most was visiting the Men’s restroom. No, I am serious; the design in there is quite amazing. It’s by far the most interesting and artistic bathroom I have ever seen. I’ve never been in the women’s restroom there, but from the pictures I found online, it also looks quite amazing. Once you’re done overlooking the city from the most scenic bathroom in the world, you can make your way back down to the bottom of the tower.
You’ll have probably noticed that the fences that keep you from falling off the platform outside of the tower don’t look normal. Move closer and you will see that they have hundreds upon hundreds of locks on them. The locks have the names of couples on them. A few years ago, one couple wrote their names on a lock and attached it to the fence and threw away the key to symbolize being locked in eternal love. This lock was then shown on TV. Suddenly after that, several more locks could be seen on the fence. Then even more! Soon there were hundreds, and the local
junk souvenir vendors began to sell locks and markers right at the base of the tower. This caused a love lock explosion and now there are probably hundreds of thousands of locks there. It’s definitely a cute idea, but eventually there will be no more space. Perhaps the city should tear the fence down and store it in a park somewhere.
Overall, one should recognize that N Seoul Tower is a tourist trap. But then again, so are the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle, the Empire State Building, CN Tower, Tokyo Tower, and practically every other tower with an observation deck. If you do end up going there, expect to meet more Japanese and Chinese than Koreans. But more than just providing a fun place for tourists to see, it tries to impress upon them that Korea is a country with advanced technology. For example, the entire outside surface of the tower is dotted with LEDs, and after sunset there is a light show with lasers. When I first visited Seoul Tower in the 1980’s it had haunted houses and video arcades and an amusement park atmosphere. It has since been redesigned and as soon as you step into N Seoul Tower, it’s almost as if you are inside a spaceship.