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SOUTH KOREA

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Seoul food Whatever you eat in Korea will involve kimchi (gimchi), a raw, tangy potage of Chinese cabbage and other chopped or grated vegetables fermented with ginger, garlic and chilli. Not surprisingly there's often more than a hint of garlic. But don't be deterred. Korea enjoys a long tradition of quick eats. Dried squid are roasted over a bed of hot stones, whilst dak-kkochi, spicy chicken kebabs, make for an even more appetizing snack.

Living on the fault line Sixty kilometres from Seoul, a metropolis of twenty million, Stalinist troops, pumped up with fear and loathing, shoot on sight to defend the impoverished hermit kingdom of North Korea. a metropolis of twenty million, Stalinist troops, pumped up with fear and loathing, stand ready to shoot on sight to defend the impoverished hermit kingdom of North Korea.

South Korean tour operators - you can't go it alone here - show you the propaganda theme parks along the Demilitarised Zone, the no-go zone dividing two Koreas: observation towers and an enormous train station where no tickets are ever sold. At the Panmunjom border post, theme park gives way to chilling reality. We enter the cabin in which both sides meet for talks. Beefy South Korean guards stand alert, faces blank behind aviator sunglasses. The 1976 axe murder of two American officers and other, more recent, fatalities demonstrate the naked xenophobia of the North Korean military. Back in Seoul, on a sultry summer evening, rock concerts and food festivals get underway in parklands across the city; an occasional white-gloved policeman appears positively inoffensive. The contrast is overwhelming. ***2010 Finalist, ASTW Best International Story Over 1,000 Words***

In search of Seoul The South Korean capital is a city of monumental avenues, a sprawl of grey cubes relieved by the wispy needles of gnarled pines, the flashes of vermilion under the eaves of venerable palaces and portals; the chilli-pepper red of countless pots of simmering rice dough rolls, ttokpokki - and the shell-pink of countless cellular phones. The heartland of Korea's cultural identity is a plethora of palaces - destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed and rebuilt again.

Gyeongju: Kings in Grass Castles Inside the grassy hemispherical mound the temperature drops as a passage burrows deep into the tumulus. Amidst the ashes and charcoal, the gold and jade ornaments of a dead ruler still lie across the long-gone body. Gyeongju (Kyongju) was the capital of the Silla dynasty which for centuries ruled over a unified Korea.

Ulleungdo Urchins "I haven't been to the island of Dokdo but I can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about it." Philip Game ponders the quirks of global geopolitics and digests raw sea urchin on Korea's penultimate outpost. Ulleungdo is a fishing community where basaltic lava cliffs rise straight up out of the sea, creating a dramatic landscape of natural arches

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