Seoul, South Korea 2014. A beautiful metropolis of architectural wonder, advanced technology, and 9.8 million people packed into an area of 234 sq miles (605 sq km.). However, if you take a look back 100 years you will see that South Korea has come a long way. Following the Japanese occupation in 1945 and the Korean War in 1953, South Korea went through a period of rapid industrialization called the “Miracle of the Han River” under the rule of Chung-Hee Park (Yes, the father of the current president Geun-Hye Park). President Park is credited by many for the economic growth the country experienced during this era, which allowed the country to expand and develop to what it is today. While we can bask in the modern city that Seoul represents today, it is also important to remember the roots of Korea and its culture.

These historical images of Seoul are juxtaposed with images of today, to highlight the stark changes that have taken place over the last one hundred years.

Gyeongbok Palace Front Entrance

gyeongbok palace front door Gyeongbok Palace went through quite a few changes in the past century, including rebuilding parts of the palace after many of the building were destroyed during the Japanese colonial era.


 Gyeongbok Palace North Gate

Back Entrance to Gyeongbok Palace seoul The North Gate (or Sinmumun) was destroyed during a Japanese invasion in 1592 and later rebuilt in 1865.


 Palace Halls

Gyeongbok Palace Halls The long corridors of the palace always felt grand.


 Sungnyemun (AKA Namdaemun) Market Place Before, Market Place Today

Sungnyemun during Chosun and Imperial Japan era

Joseon and Imperial Japan Era

Sungnyemun in the Modern day The action may have moved to the surrounding areas of Sungnyemun, but it still acts as a busy marketplace for clothes and many other wares.


Monument of Wongaksa at Seoul Tapgol Park

seoulpark-gaksalbiBuilt in 1471 the Monument of Wongaksa was built to commemorate the building of the Wongaksa temple.


Crossing the Frozen Han River During the Korean War

Crossing theHan River During the Korean WarDuring the Korean war bridges from the North of the Han to the south were destroyed to slow the advancing Chinese and North Korean armies, in order to cross many of the refugees traversed across the frozen Han River.


 Dongdaemun: The Fashion Capital of Korea

Side of Dongdaemun Wall While the wall is no longer present, the Dongdaemun gate itself remains intact. Dongdaemun began as a marketplace in 1905 and is now considered by many to be the fashion capital of Korea.


 Joseon Royal Tombs

joseon-royal-tomb Relatively untouched, the Joseon royal tombs stand as a reminder of Korea’s long dynastic history.


 Streets of Seoul Then and Now

Seoul Streets then and NowAs Korea developed, many flocked from the countryside to the Korean capital of Seoul, making it the highest populated city in Korea.


Han River Bank

River Bank on the Han RiverHomes and fishing boats once lined the Han River banks, today the Han is used mostly for recreational and leisure activities.


East Shrine of War

East War Shrine in SeoulThe East Shrine of War was built in the 3rd century, and is the only one of three that remains today.


Couriers in Seoul: Still Packing Heavy

Seoul Couriers Then and Now While the goods they carry have changed, the couriers of Seoul have always tended to carry quite a load on their backs.


 Seoul Station

Seoul Station Seoul Station has gone through many renovations over the past century. Today, the original building stands as a museum, while adjacent buildings act as train and subways hubs.


Independence Gate in Seodaemun

Seoul Seodaemun Gu Independence Gate The Independence Gate has stood in the past as a symbol of independence and that tradition carries on today, making it a site that is often used for demonstrations.

Been to some of these places? Let us know! Don’t forget to visit our Facebook page for updates!

Image Cred: imcomkorea | hicamera letsbook | pblely |Hoseob Kim | Robert Koehler | Seongbin Im Some images have been modified.

About The Author

D Lee

D. Lee was once a work-a-holic turned explorer. He now seeks to see the world and all that it has to offer one place at a time. D. Lee is Cali bred, but is currently living in Seoul, South Korea. He enjoys trekking mountains, tasting diverse foods, and meeting people from around the world. D. Lee envisioned a consolidated place for readers to engage and sync in with Korean culture, which led him to co-founding SeoulSync.