On the bus ride from Gimpo Airport, I found that the countryside looks similar to Japan, except that the predilection for blue roof tiles is much more pronounced here and the corners of the roofs are pointy.
Seoul itself is huge and very densely populated. Big complexes of high-rise apartment towers dominate many parts of town. The town is bisected by the Han river and surrounded by a number of low mountains. Just as on our trip to Taiwan, I am again finding that many traits I took to be Japanese are actually more Asian.
KIAS, the Korea Institute for Advanced Study is unfortunately not located very centrally. But the surrounding neighborhood is full of small restaurants, coffee places and shops and quite fun.
While Korea is somewhat less polished than Japan, knowing life in Japan seems to be giving us some useful pointers for managing in Korea as well. On the whole, Seoul seems to be even more high-tech than Tokyo!
One thing the Japanese should adopt from Korea is the floor heating which has been traditionally used for many centuries here. How comfy and warm is it to stay on the floor of our flat at KIAS! No comparison to the cold and drafty winter freezing in front of a small electric radiator that awaits us in Japan!
As for sightseeing, we have visited Gyeongbok Palace and Insadong which abounds with small souvenir and craft shops, the Namdaemun Market and the N Seoul Tower on Namsan. In central Seoul, car traffic is quite considerable and the air feels accordingly polluted. Central Seoul seems to be made for cars and not for people, which gives it a bit of an unfriendly feel. Namsan is a green oasis in the city center and offers good views to all directions.
Food is of course an important topic in Korea. Most notable: most food is very spicy, the chopsticks are made from metal and flat, there are many hot-pot dishes, where all the ingredients get mixed together at the table, and the bigger parts get cut with a big pair of kitchen shears!