I was in South Korea once before but since my cultured better-half wasn't with me then, I paid little attention to the nuances of Korean history beyond the fact that the country was divided into North and South Korea following WWII. From visits to several museums and palaces, I now see Korea as "the Poland of Asia" -- a pawn of history due to its unfortunate location between two powers. Japan and China have played dominant roles in Korea's history just as Russia and Germany have played in Polish history. I am embarrassed to admit that until now I had not realized that Korea belonged to the Japanese Empire until 1945. which I'm sure all the rest of you remember from school!!
From a tourism point-of-view, there is more to see in Seoul than we expected, including several royal palaces and excellent museums. (http://english.visitkorea.or.