It’s often said don’t walk around with a map in London … it screams ‘tourist’and could draw the attention of the wrong type of people – such as pickpockets.
Walk around with a map and in London you might be robbed, in Seoul you’ll be mobbed – by people trying to help you.
… and note in the picture above the one official information officer is on his mobile accessing more information services to help the tourists (in addition to hand held internet access).
Indeed you don’t even need a map, I stood around looking confused on 2 occasions and people just came up to help me … in English!
In Insa-Dong I was helped by the information squad …
And at the Seoul Museum of History I asked for directions to another museum the receptionists hadn’t heard of. They accessed Naver, Korean’s favourite search engine, on their own mobile and then called a national information help line and passed the call onto me, so a perfect English speaker could talk me through my options.
Off I confidentially strode to the other museum only to be caught up by one of the receptionists who handed me her mobile phone, so that the caller who had given me the earlier advice could correct herself and tell me the other museum was closed. The receptionist had ran after me for over a kilometer!
This level of assistance is probably due to a combination of national pride (helping tourists), personal commitment to excellence, and the shame of making a mistake.
Whatever the reasons, the result is the same, as a tourist help is always at hand in Seoul! 🙂