Seoul, Korea

November 03, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

My tour of Seoul started at the airport arriving from my trip to Taiwan. I was picked up from the airport by an Assistant Dean from the School of Dentistry, Seoul National University, from whom I learned that Korea has 11 dental schools. Interestingly, the airport had infrared cameras installed prior to the immigration area to detect if anyone with a fever who poses an infection risk. The drive to the hotel MayPlace was pleasant crossing the Hangang River (or Han River) which divides the city in a south and a north part.

HEI_7816HEI_7816 HEI_7818HEI_7818

The next morning, I visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace. On my way, walking the 30 minutes to the palace, I was impressed by the displays of various live fish in front of eateries.

HEI_7667HEI_7667 HEI_7672HEI_7672 HEI_7673HEI_7673 HEI_7675HEI_7675

The palace was built in 1395, also commonly referred to as the Northern Palace because its location is the furthest north when compared to the neighbouring palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace) and Gyeonghuigung (Western Palace) Palace. "Remarkably, the most representative edifices of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Gyeonghoeru Pavilion and Hyangwonjeong Pond have remained relatively intact. Woldae and the sculptures of Geunjeongjeon (The Royal Audience Chamber) represent past sculptures of contemporary art.”

The Sumunjang (or the gate guard) was first introduced in 1461 under King Sejo. The gate guards were not only managed systematically also managed the gate passers. Since 2002, the Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation exhibits the comparable environment of Joseon dynasty with the weapons, the armours, and the traditional clothes.

HEI_7715HEI_7715 HEI_7717HEI_7717

HEI_7728HEI_7728 HEI_7730HEI_7730 HEI_7732HEI_7732 HEI_7736HEI_7736  
HEI_7750HEI_7750 HEI_7754HEI_7754 HEI_7758HEI_7758 HEI_7767HEI_7767

Many of the tourists dressed up in traditional HanBok costumes that could be rented next to the palace. 
HEI_7797HEI_7797 HEI_7787HEI_7787

HEI_7729HEI_7729 HEI_7720HEI_7720
Afterwards, I visited the Lotte World Tower and had a snack in the lounge on the 123rd floor enjoying the amazing view.


HEI_7890HEI_7890 HEI_7906HEI_7906 HEI_7862HEI_7862 HEI_7872HEI_7872 HEI_7868HEI_7868

HEI_7867HEI_7867 HEI_7873HEI_7873 HEI_7888HEI_7888 XUPA9076XUPA9076 HEI_7875HEI_7875   HEI_7894HEI_7894  

Next day, an academic from the Seoul Dental School picked me up for a visit to the War Memorial.


I have learned a lot about historical armies, wars and armour beginning at 900 AD and expanding into different dynasties including the occupation by the Japanese.

HEI_7982HEI_7982 HEI_7976HEI_7976

The most important part, however, was for me the Korean War (1950-1953) about which I knew only the basic facts. I have learned the role of the 24th Division under General MacArthur's command. My hosts' grandparents had been captured by the communists during the war, their fate still unknown as most of the 100,000 citizens that got kidnapped.  Among the kidnapped were many government officials, National Assembly members, soldiers, policemen, journalists, religious leaders, artists and scholars who were exploited for North Korean's propaganda efforts. 

HEI_7998HEI_7998 HEI_7993HEI_7993

Then, I had lunch with Ice Cold Noodle Soup and Kimchi as well as a slice of Asian Pear for desert. One of my lunch hosts made a point that he never understood what pear-shaped meant in English anatomy books or the like until he had a pear outside Korea where all pears are round. Cultural differences! 

IMG_7045IMG_7045 IMG_7048IMG_7048


They gave me these polished metal chopsticks (not very helpful) and also cut the noodles in pieces using huge scissors even less helpful). I washed my pants as they got a few spots.


The next day, the official conference-related tours started. So, I met the co-presenters for the first time during the tour of the Secret Gardens at Changdeokgung Palace which was the second royal villa built following the construction of Gyeongbukgung Palace in 1405. Changdeokgung Palace’s rear garden was constructed during the reign of King Taejong and served as a resting place for the royal family members. Changdeokgung Palace was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage site by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee in December of 1997. I was amazed to learn that they even had underfloor heating in some of the buildings constructed in the 15th century. There is also a night tour offered but is limited to 100 people. HEI_8042HEI_8042 HEI_8045HEI_8045 HEI_8048HEI_8048 HEI_8044HEI_8044
HEI_8052HEI_8052 HEI_8061HEI_8061 HEI_8063HEI_8063 HEI_8065HEI_8065 HEI_8068HEI_8068 HEI_8079HEI_8079

I learned that none of the academics from the Seoul Dental School that is about 500 metres away have ever visited the Secret Gardens—they all work too hard, up to 52 hours per week as I was told. Here a picture of the Secret Gardens from a window of the Dental School.


Then, we had a Korean-style lunch during which I learned that Japanese eat only with chop sticks, but Koreans also use a spoon. After lunch, we embarked on a Seoul National University Campus Tour, including the academic study environment where their dental students work. We also visited the brand new education areas, such as the Digital Dental Center and the Dental Library. In addition, we visited the dental hospital (SNUDH) where about 1,000 patients are seen every day. Their technical lab employs 11 dental technician. 



On the day of the conference, Saturday, I presented on "The Use of Data for Better Dental Education and Research” following by a video-recorded interview. The 2nd SNUSD International Conference for Future Dentistry featured topics ranging from "Surface modification of titanium for the enhancement of osseo- and soft tissue integration” by Kiyoshi Koyano Dean, Faculty of Dental Science, Kyushu University to "Involvement of non-neuronal cell activation in ectopic orofacial pain mechanisms” by Koichi Iwata Professor, Nihon University.

More pictures here.


No comments posted.

This is a photographic diary of our adventures in Australia with emphasis on Sydney and its surroundings.
January February March April May June July August September October November (2) December (1)
January (1) February March April (1) May June (3) July August September October (2) November (1) December
January February (1) March April (1) May June July August September (1) October November (1) December
January (1) February March April (1) May June July August September October (1) November (2) December
January February March April May June July August (1) September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December