Imagine …a 14-hour tour

From the Imagine Cup 2007 World Finals

Seoul, South Korea

By Jeff Greene /


The Imagine Cup 2007 Photography competition concluded at midnight and the submissions from all six teams are excellent.  Chris, Colin, and I had a difficult time scoring and evaluating the final entries trying to ascertain the best photo essay from a strong field. There’s a reason these six teams made it to the world finals, they can flat-out shoot… At approximately 2:30am, after two hours of scoring and deliberations, we had finally determined the winning essays.  They will remain a secret until all the Imagine Cup winners are announced at the Imagine Cup World Festival on Friday afternoon.


Now that we are done with the business at hand, it’s time to explore Seoul.  Colin left early this morning for Vietnam to shoot some material for an upcoming project on Agent Orange. Chris and I joined the caravan of 18 tour busses and headed out to see the sights. I generally abhor guided bus tours since it severely restricts the amount of time allowing me to photographically “work” an area. However, since I have no ability to read or speak the Korean language and would be completely lost, this was an excellent way to see some of the highlights of Seoul.


We started at the Seoul History Museum and then moved on to the Gyeongbokdung Palace built in 1395 by King Taejo during the Joseon Dynasty. This is a large complex that offers traditional Korean palace architecture, ornate temples, and costumed characters in historical dress. You could spend an entire day here filling CF cards.


We were then taken to Chamsil Olympic Arena which hosted the 1988 Olympic basketball tournament for a traditional Korean lunch of “bibimbap” consisting of fried rice and a variety of steamed vegetables and spices. The ingredients were all artistically arranged in a huge 20’ stainless steel bowl and then thoroughly mixed by ten lucky attendees. Since nearly all the guests are foreigners, the looks of angst after being served the dish along with kimchi, peppered carrots, and seaweed soup were quite amusing. Not exactly a Big Mac combo meal…


We then headed to the Han River for a 45 minute boat ride to Yeouido Park in the shadow of the DLI 63 building, the tallest in Korea.  I'll let you guess how high it is... Later, the bus met us and proceeded to drop us off at Insa-dong Street for an hour of shopping.  I’m not big souvenir guy, but I did take a liking to a Yangban Tal mask...  Chris picked up some nice lacquer boxes and a few trinkets for friends.  We even made a new friend with a shopkeeper who was shocked that I returned to his stall an hour after promising I would do so.  He probably hears that all day….


The climax of the evening was dinner at the Sejong Art Hall with the Mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon, and several other VIPs including the deputy mayor of Paris, France; host of next year’s 2008 Imagine Cup Finals.


By the time we got back to the hotel it was after 10pm, fourteen hours after we had started.  Since it was my first time off the hotel property, it had actually gone by quite quickly.  Tomorrow, If the rain lets up a bit, Chris and I will venture back into town on our own to explore some of our favorite sights more thoroughly.


On the Han River

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