Travel

San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate.com | Sunday, September 18, 2011 | Section J

Five Places: Germany in the West is more than just Oktoberfest J2

SOUTH KOREA

Photos by Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

South Koreans spin fire cans on the banks of the Han River as part of Daeborueum, a holiday celebrating the first full moon of the lunar new year.

Seoul’s homegrown hip
Vibrant scenes are cropping up as city finds new energy
By Matthew Crompton
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICL E

In general, I try to avoid eating anything that fights back. Nonetheless, the dish before me — fully alive moments before — is still squirming. “Chew vigorously,” my friend Nick says, as I seize a particularly ambitious piece of sannakji — a freshly dismembered bit of raw octopus tentacle — dredge it through a small dish of sesame oil, and pop it, writhing, into my mouth. “It’s the feeling of it gripping as it goes down that I’ve really come to love,” he adds, as a peculiar sucking sensation takes hold of my tongue and cheek. I shoot him a look and swallow hard, feeling the unmasticated suction cups working their way down my esophagus. That is Seoul. This once nearly destroyed city (that lives with the ever-present chance that it might happen again) has a surprising amount of life in it. And while Seoul has never been hip, it’s quickly coming into its own and quickly gaining a buzz, so
Seoul continues on J4

Pedestrians walk among the garish signs of a shopping district in Seoul, South Korea’s capital and largest city.

SAIL AWAY
T R A V E L

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