South Korea beyond Samsung

Senior reporter Shara Tibken went to South Korea in pursuit of the Samsung Galaxy S8. She found a whole lot more than phones and factories.

Shara Tibken
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Teddy bears

CNET's Shara Tibken visited South Korea in pursuit of the Samsung Galaxy S8, but she found a lot more than phones and factories.

A popular cartoon company, called Line Friends, has shops all over Seoul, as well as other parts of Asia. A teddy bear, called Brown, is one of the most popular figures. He's available in teddy bear form, as well as USB sticks, phone cases, humidifiers, toothbrushes and other items.

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Lining up for teddy bear

People wait outside a Line Friends store to get their photo taken with a giant stuffed bear, called Brown.

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Cat cafe

South Koreans love coffee, and animal cafes are popular. You buy a drink or pay an entrance fee to play with cats, dogs, sheep and even raccoons, depending on the cafe.

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Jogyesa Temple

Jogyesa is one of the main Buddhist temples in South Korea. It's located in downtown Seoul, near a popular street called Insa-dong and the palace of Gyeongbokgung.

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The Namdaemun Market in Seoul is open 24 hours. It has everything from jewelry to street food. One area sells cameras and camera equipment like tripods and lenses.

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Market from above

The Namdaemun Market is spread out across multiple buildings and floors. One area will have endless tables of dishware, while another sells souvenirs and trinkets. You can find almost anything you need in the market.

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The day after Shara Tibken arrives in Seoul, thousands of people celebrate the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye in Gwanghwamun Square outside the historic Gyeongbokgung Palace. These protesters are holding signs that call for Park's arrest and demand the freedom of a former far-left lawmaker, Lee Seok-ki, who was put in prison for treason during the Park administration.

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Protest near golden statue

The protest celebrating Park's impeachment takes place next to the golden statue of King Sejong the Great. Bands entertain the crowd from a stage, and vendors sell snacks and cushion seating to make the wait more pleasant.

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Costumes at protest

The front gate to the Gyeongbokgung Palace can be seen from the protest area. People dress in costume and hover on stilts, and artwork is displayed all over the Gwanghwamun Square.

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Gyeongbokgung Palace

Guards, dressed in traditional clothing, stand outside the gates of the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.

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Lookout tower at DMZ

The border between North and South Korea is one of the most dangerous places in the world, but there are still places for tourists to peek into the "hermit kingdom" from the South. This lookout tower lets you see North Korean "villages" (no one really lives in most of them), as well as an area, called the Kaesong Industrial Zone, where North and South Koreans used to collaborate on manufacturing -- until last year when it was closed because of North Korea's rocket tests.

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Train station

The Dorasan train station sits in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. It's the northernmost stop of the South's train line, but it has served as a tourist attraction instead of a functioning railway stop since North Korea closed the border crossing in 2008.

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The Joint Security Area of the DMZ, which lies within a village called Panmunjom, is where North and South Korea meet for any negotiations or talks. It's one of the most secure places in the world and is the only place where North and South Koreans (as well as US soldiers) stare each other in the face every day.

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Inside the JSA

Tourists are able to visit the JSA on tours through the US military -- but they also could be shot by North Korea (or US troops if they try to desert). Half of the room is in North Korea, the other half is in the South, making it the only place Western tourists can "visit" North Korea. Two South Korean soldiers stand guard in front of an unlocked door that's technically in North Korea.

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War Memorial of Korea

The War Memorial of Korea is a popular museum with an outdoor component showing tanks, airplanes and other weaponry from the South Korean and US armies. It's located near a large US military base in Seoul.

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More of the War Memorial of Korea

The Korean War ended in a draw on July 27, 1953. Since that time, South Korea has rapidly modernized and has fostered the growth of tech giants like Samsung and LG, while North Korea remains the hermit kingdom. The US maintains a large military presence in South Korea.

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Namsan Tower

Seoul's Namsan Tower, pictured behind an airplane at the War Memorial of Korea, can be seen from many parts of the city. It's a communications and observation tower located on Namsan Mountain in the central part of Seoul and is also known as the YTN Seoul Tower, N Seoul Tower or Seoul Tower. Visitors can take a cable car up to the tower.

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Statue of Brothers

Outside the War Memorial of Korea is a statue highlighting the division between North and South, called the Statue of Brothers. It depicts two siblings -- a bigger South Korea soldier and a smaller North Korean fighter -- meeting on a battlefield and embracing instead of fighting each other. The crack represents the division between North and South and the hope for reunification.

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Second statue

Another statue at the War Memorial of Korea shows different Korean soldiers and citizens over the years.

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Helicopter view

Shara Tibken took a helicopter from Seoul to Gumi, the site of one of Samsung's nine mobile assembly factories. This is a bird's-eye view of the Han River and the newly constructed Lotte World Tower.

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Helicopter view of Seoul

Seoul is the world's fourth biggest city in terms of population, behind Tokyo, New York and Sao Paulo. About 50 percent of South Korea's population lives in the Seoul metropolitan area.

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Jay Y. Lee

Samsung's vice chairman and heir apparent, Jay Y. Lee, has been arrested in connection with the now-impeached South Korean presidential scandal. He has been accused of bribery and embezzlement. But outside a Samsung showroom in Seoul, called Samsung D'Light, signs protested his alleged treatment of sick workers.

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Shara’s planet

In Samsung D'Light, visitors can play interactive games, like this one that lets you design your own planet.

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In the underground mall of Samsung's "Central Park" in its Suwon headquarters, there's an area with handprints from the company's leadership like B.K. Yoon, the head of electronics, and D.J. Koh, the head of mobile.

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The Samsung D'Light showroom and store in Seoul also offers classes to teach people how to do things on their Samsung devices.

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Old TV

The Samsung Innovation Museum at the company's headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, displays old electronics the company has sold over the years. This is one of its early TVs.

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Samsung over the years

Samsung's Innovation Museum also shows off old tape decks and telephones. Samsung is the world's biggest mobile phone and TV maker.

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