South of Myeongdong station the roads rise up, eventually coming to a stop at the feet of Namsan (남산), Seoul’s resident mountain. There are spectacular views of the city from the 265m-high peak, and yet more from the characteristic N-Seoul Tower, which sits at the summit. Namsan once marked the natural boundary of a city that has long since swelled over the edges and across the river – some sections of the city wall can still be seen on the mountain, as can the remains of fire beacons that formed part of a national communication system during the Joseon period. These were used to relay warnings across the land – one flame lit meant that all was well, while up to five were lit to signify varying degrees of unrest; the message was repeated along chains of beacons that stretched across the peninsula. Namsan’s own are located just above the upper terminal of a cable car that carries most visitors up to the summit. The base is an uphill slog south of Myeongdong: leave the subway station through exit three, keep going up and you can’t miss it.
The N-Seoul Tower (N-서울 타워) sits proudly on Namsan’s crown, newly renovated and recently renamed (“Seoul Tower” clearly wasn’t trendy enough). Inside there’s a viewing platform and a pricey restaurant. For many, the views from the tower’s base are good enough, and coming here to see the sunset is recommended – the grey mass of daytime Seoul turns in no time into a pulsating neon spectacle.