Seoul fuses cultural travel with technology in new tourism app
With 52 sites to visit, the Seoul Tour Heritage Stamp app is similar to the Jeju Olle Trail Passport, which encourages visitors to stamp off the sites they visit.
Of the nine themes on the new app, “Houses of Artists” contains 5 former residences of historic artists. Art critic Choi Soon-woo’s house in Seongbuk-dong; sculptor Kwon Jin-gyu’s atelier in Dongseon-dong; painter Ko Hee-dong’s place in Wonseo-dong; composer Hong Nan-pa’s residence in Hongpa-dong and traditional ink painter Lee Sang-beom’s house in Nuha-dong made the list.
These dwellings are mostly preserved hanok houses now serving as memorials and museums.
Designated as a cultural heritage site in 2006, Choi’s dwelling is around 62.5 square meters and comes with a small courtyard. With its rectangular formation, it is a quintessential Korean house of the 1930s.
Kwon’s former atelier was where he worked from 1959, when he returned from Japan, until 1973. Some of his best known artwork was created there. Ko’s place, although small, is a perfect example of contemporary Korean architecture in its budding days.
Hong’s ivy-covered brick house, on the other hand, was built by a German missionary and is the only Western-style house on the tour. Inside, Hong’s most iconic artworks are on display.
Located to the west of Gyeongbok Palace, Lee’s hanok dwelling is one of many in the area that dates back to the 1930s. The quaint hanok was Lee’s home for some 43 years.
The application provides further information about the dwellings and also contains pictures and narrations in English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. Instead of the traditional stamp and paper, the application marks a user’s visit by utilizing a QR code or NFC Tag.
Apart from the art-themed tours, there are itineraries encompassing the period of the Three Kingdoms, the Independence Movement era and the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) among others.
Travelers that manage to complete three themed tours out of nine will be given the chance to apply for a “Cultural Heritage of Seoul Keeper” title. Once registered as a “heritage keeper,” individuals are able to become guides at cultural sites.
Hwang Yo-han from the Seoul city government said he hoped the application would help increase awareness of historical sites among young people.
“Although it’s less known than palace or hanok village tours, there are various types of tours and intangible assets that will become available to citizens and tourists that will hopefully prompt visits,” Hwang said. “Through the smartphone, the younger demographic will be able to encounter our culture in a more interesting way.”
The application is free to download on Google Play or the Apple App Store.
BY CARLA SUNWOO [email@example.com]