Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This is why the Marmot has been holed up

It seems The Marmot, famously of The Marmot's Hole, has written a Seoul guide. And if Robert Koehler has penned it, one can safely assume it really lives up to its advertising brag, that Seoul "finally gets the guidebook it deserves." It is available starting on Friday, and Seoul Selection provides this description:
Seoul Selection is proud to announce the release of "Seoul," the first in Seoul Selection's groundbreaking guide book series. At 464 pages, no other guidebook on the planet covers the dynamic city of Seoul in as much detail, with comprehensive neighborhood-by-neighborhood descriptions of all there is to do and see. More than 400 color photographs bring alive the city's scenic charms, while a plethora of culture and history notes provide the reader with fascinating background information to enrich the tour experience. Detailed maps make sure you don't get lost... unless you want to. "Seoul" is written by Robert Koehler, a 13-year resident of Korea and editor-in-chief of Seoul Selection's monthly travel magazine SEOUL. Price: 24,000 won. You can pick up your copy from Friday at major bookshops around the country, including Seoul Selection.
In addition, we are promised the following:
  • Comprehensive and detailed neighborhood-by-neighborhood descriptions of one of Asia’s most dynamic cities
  • Beautiful photos bring alive Seoul’s scenic charms
  • Helpful tips ensure you make the most of your visit
  • Detailed maps and transportation information help you get where you want to go
  • Culture and history notes provide background information and stories to enrich your traveling experience
  • Information on day trips to interesting locales outside of Seoul, including the DMZ and Korea’s royal tombs
  • The most comprehensive guidebook to Seoul at 464 pages
  • Over 400 beautiful photos that bring alive Seoul's scenic charms
  • In-depth travel info, including helpful tips and history & culture notes
  • Detailed maps to lead you to the spots you want to visit
Here's the blurb from their website:
Korea’s capital for the last 600 years, Seoul is an energetic, pulsating city where the ancient and modern coexist in dramatic contrast. With its grand royal palaces, quaint old alleyways, ancient temples, colorful markets, neon shopping districts and verdant mountains, you’ll never run out of things to see and do. This guide will get you started.
When I first ventured outside of Korea and into other parts of Asia, particularly China, I was told by people in Hong Kong that a Lonely Planet book was a must-have. I bought it and I agreed: it got me around cheap and I ended up seeing a lot of cool stuff I wouldn't have otherwise known about. But LP has started getting a reputation for laziness. Some of the guides seem as if they're phoned in. Or at least that their authors are flown in. They go with flashy language over making sure that that cheap quaint yŏgwan in Kyŏngju is still cheap and quaint. That kind of thing. Sanshinsŏn (the hiking and temples guest blogger at The Marmot's Hole used to write for them, but not anymore, and that, I think, is a telling example of what's wrong with them today (not that they couldn't turn things around).

Now, I honestly haven't read Robert Koehler's book, so I don't know how it holds up in terms of the nitty-gritty guidebook things like finding accommodation and what-not, but if this new book is infused with the same dedication and insight that is evident in his blog posts on palaces, local restaurants, interesting modern stuff, and the history and background of it all, then I have no doubt it will be the must-have book to carry around, both for visitor and resident. In other words, local talent Robert Koehler may have written the anti-LP book, the LP book that LP would write if LP itself were still writing LP books the way LP used to.

Congratulations, Marmot! I suspect you've set a new standard.


  1. If I buy it... do I get a Seoul Selection t-shirt?... ;)

  2. I suspect he would give you one for free.

    I'm hoping he'll give me a complimentary copy in exchange for a favorable review, before that becomes illegal.

  3. Wow, I hope there's a few chapters on Seoul Churches and tons accompanying photos...or maybe he'll simply dedicate a whole book to that subject. Riveting stuff.


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