As a frequent traveler to Korea, as a Korean linguist, and as a huge fan of Korean culture, I was thrilled to learn that a new guide to South Korea was being published. I ran to the store to buy it. Wow, what a disappointment! I don't even know where to begin with my condemnation of this tragic tome. Let's start here: as a guide that claims to inform the reader about little-known secrets about this amazing country--well, there are none. The Lonely Planet Guide and the Moon Guide offer 10 times more information. Also, there is MUCH out of date info. The author recommends shoppers to visit the Freya Town department store in Dongdaemun. That building was demolished years ago. She claims that dental floss is impossible to find--it is available at any convenience store. This factoid was probably "borrowed" from an earlier edition of the Lonely Planet guide when, years ago, this was the truth.
Even worse: when she does recommend the usual tourist-trap restaurants that both above-mentioned guides cite, she only gives the address. No map. Well, the first thing the first-time traveler to Korea needs to know is that Korean addresses are WORTHLESS. It's not like in the West, where buildings are numbered incrementally--you won't find numbers on buildings in Korea, as building numbers are only assigned to buildings as they are built. These numbers are used only by the post office. To find out a particular location in Korea, Koreans describe what is the near the building in question, or they fax each other maps.
What is more, whereas Lonely Planet uses BOTH the Ministry of Education transliteration system AND the Korean letters (Hangeul), the author saw fit to eschew Hangeul completely and use her own sloppy, inconsistent, misleading, and incomprehensible transliteration system. In short, the novice to Korea will be completely baffled. To make matters even worse, she includes a glossary of Korean and of Korean foods at the end of the work. Although the English seems fine, there are numerous mistakes in the Korean language she uses, and in some cases, the Korean and English terms don't even match up!
Shall I go on and on? For those who want to buy electronic devices, she mentions Yongsan Electronics Mart in Seoul and doesn't even mention Technomart, a much smarter place for foreigners to buy electronics. She mentions the most expensive places to stay in Jeonju but doesn't even mention that the best places to stay in Jeonju are right by the train station (most people go to Jeonju for the excellent food and the international film festival).
More? the author includes a subway map of Daegu, but not that of Seoul? Where is the wisdom in this decision? How many first time visitors to Korea will EVER go to Daegu. Highly unlikely.
Worst of all, the author recommends that visitors go to the DMZ as their first trip out of Seoul. Wow. No place on Earth is more boring. Anyone who has visited Korea will tell you this. It takes an entire day to go, there is a dress code, and the only food available is an expensive, tasteless, foreigner-based quasi version of the real stuff.
I could go on and on. I am so disgusted with Frommer's for allowing this unedited travesty to be published. Save your money. Buy the Lonely Planet Guide to Korea (and also their very good guide to Seoul). If you want lots of background info on cultural sites and Korean history also buy the Moon guide. Frommer's guide is just a waste of money. What a shame.