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Dispatch from Seoul: 5 Spots to See Off the Beaten Path

South Korea has become ground zero for beauty innovation in the last few years (BB creams, anyone?). Lucky for us, former Birchbox copywriter Mai is teaching English in Seoul this summer—and sending us weekly updates about her finds in beauty, food, and beyond. This week, she’s rounded up the best activities for those seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life.


This view from the N Seoul Tower might seem like mostly urban sprawl, but there are plenty of green spaces and quiet retreats within the city limits. 

When I first arrived in Seoul, I felt like I had time-traveled into the future. Riding the eerily quiet subway, I saw schoolchildren watching TV shows on their antenna-equipped smartphones. Outside, giant LCD screens filled every corner, and the streets were litter-free. I was in awe: New York seemed downright medieval in comparison (the city is only now getting wi-fi installed on select subway platforms). Yet after a few weeks, I started craving a change of scene away from all the hustle and bustle. It turns out that I didn’t have to travel far—beneath Seoul’s high-tech exterior, there’s plenty of historical charm and hidden greenery. If you’re planning to visit the metropolis, here are five things you should try to unwind:

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