Posts Tagged ‘day trips from Seoul’

In this post I am dealing with a large area. So to avoid any potential confusion, I’m going to talk about the parks surrounding the stadium.

World Cup Stadium Station

The World Cup Park was built for the 17th FIFA World Cup in 2002. The tournament was co-hosted between Korea and Japan, this stadium is very much a flagship stadium for football in Korea. Many sports tournaments are famous for leaving white elephants dotted around provincial parts of the host nations. However, in Korea there has been a very specific policy of using such tournaments to spearhead development, or redevelopment of neglected or underused areas. A less ambitious planning policy would have used the  stadia and facilities of the Olympic park in Seoul for the World Cup but in their wisdom, the planners of the World Cup of 2002 used the competition as an opportunity to develop the trash mountain on the western edge of Seoul.

Inside the stadium

Development is perhaps a misleading word as it conjures up images of large apartment complexes, mega malls and vast conference halls – the norm for most Korean cities. World Cup Park does have such facilities, including the usual wedding hall, Homeplus supermarket, cinema and gym/jjimjilbang, but they are surrounded by the parks which have transformed a 15-year-old landfill site.  It took them 6 years to stabilize the waste and an extra year to build the park itself. The park is located between Seoul World Cup stadium and the river Han. Park should really be plural as it’s made up of five smaller parks including the Pyeonghwa ‘Peace’ Park, Haneul ‘Sky’ Park, and Noeul ‘Sunset’ Park.

World Cup Stadium

The Pyeonghwa Park is joined  to the World Cup Stadium by a large pedestrian bridge. It’s the easiest to reach from the subway station and there is a pond with fountain, gardens, children’s playground, and forest. If you are a lazy picnic planner there is also the ubiquitous coffee shop and convenience store with ramen by the crate. It seems to be popular with in-line skaters.

Peace Park Pond

The Nanjicheon Park and Nanji Hangang Park were recreated from the Nanji Stream, which was once a sewage runoff from the landfill. You can find it next to the river Han, it’s separated from the main park by the express way. It contains an outdoor stage and various sports facilities. You can also camp here, but it doesn’t seem too far from the trappings of the city. Perhaps if you are not ready for a true wilderness experience you may want to choose this location. If you go camping to escape civilization this may not be the best location for you!

Haneul Park  is  the highest part of the whole area – hence the name Skypark. If you approach from the stadium side you need to scale a zigzag staircase to reach the walkway into the park. The stairs look intimidating but they are quite an easy climb. For some reason you cannot enter the park from the eastern side so you have to walk round another path to get to the entrance. If you are flagging there is a small bus. Despite being a flat riverbank area  the  mountain of waste has created one of the best views in Seoul. It’s flat on the top and gives a panoramic view over western Seoul and you can also see the mountains of Bukhansan too. The flat top is covered with grasses and wild flowers. The small office ha displays showing how they reclaimed the area. If you needed a visual clue for how they achieved this you will find it in the numerous methane pipes throughout the park. They also have a well hidden methane power station located next to the park.

Haneul Entrance

Park Bus

DSC_0121

 

The last park is Noeul Park. This is furthest away from the stadium and World Cup Stadium subway station, although you could probably get there easily enough from Suraek station if you wanted to avoid trailing through the other parks.There is a 9-hole golf course and more converted landfill. The park is a useful breathing space between some of the new developments of Digital Media City. They have started constructing another huge skyscraper nearby. Being further away from the built up areas and further to the west, it is perhaps the best area to see the sunset and to get more peace.

I have been to this area a few times and I never get bored. If you are visiting Seoul for a few days then I think it’s a worthwhile visit. If you live in Korea it’s a must see, especially if the wild flowers are blooming. Another option is if you are planning on seeing a game at the stadium, in which case you could turn it into an entire day.

View from the top

DSC_0132

Seasonal wild flowers

DSC_0249_Fotor_Collage

IMG_3172

Getting there:

by subway – World Cup Stadium Station (Subway Line 6), Exit 1 or 2. (Mapo-gucheong and Digital Media City are also nearby.)

by bus -Get off at the Seoul World Cup Stadium Blue 271, 571 Green 6715, 7714, 7715 Red 9711

World Cup Park area

 

 

 

 

 

Some weeks ago before the weather became too hot I had a spare Sunday afternoon in Seoul before taking the bus back from Seongnam station. I had seen a few weeks previously a nice little picture next to one of the stops on the subway map. I am obsessed about subway maps and stare at them in between my frequent visits to Seoul. I was intrigued by the name and the location of this ‘Citizen’s Forest’ so I decided to investigate.

It is near Yangjae Tollgate on the Gyeongbu Highway if you arrive by car, otherwise it is at the station of the same name (양재시민의숲) on the Sin Bundang line (신분당선). The Sin Bundang Line is worth a trip anyway, it’s one of the only driverless lines in Korea and it goes very fast and doesn’t make the frequent stops like other lines.

This park has great facilities and I had an unexpected and pleasant afternoon there. You can see nature up close, visit the extremely good reflexology path, or you can use the sporting facilities. The main reason for visiting this park on the gateway to Seoul is for the small but comprehensive  Memorial Hall dedicated to Patriot Yun Bong-gil. Many Koreans will know about this patriot but as someone from the West who doesn’t know much about Korea’s struggle for independence I found it all pretty fascinating.

Yun Bong-gil was an exceptionally driven man whose motivation for the liberation of Korea knew no bounds. As a young man he organised many societies and movements in rural areas to further the movement for liberation. At the young age of 23 in 1930 he self-exiled to China saying

‘A man who left home would not return home alive.’

His time in China was spent doing special missions for the Provisional Korean Government in Shanghai. However, in 1932 the Imperial Japanese Army took control of Shanghai. This was the beginning of the events that led to Yun Bong-gil’s greatest sacrifice. The Japanese had scheduled an event in Hongkew Park to celebrate Emperor Hirohito’s birthday. On this day Yun attended the ceremony, acting alone, and threw himself through the crowds, got near the Japanese high command and exploded a bomb. The result of the explosion was the killing and injuring of seven soldiers including commander-in-chief Shiragawa. Yun was arrested and sentenced to death, a punishment he received after he was transferred to Japan. He was only 25 years old when he died.

The effects of this single action were pretty phenomenal. The high command in China was left with a vacuum, damaging Japan’s imperialist ambitions in China. The shocking event led to the global recognition of the Korean Independence movement. Finally, it also cemented the solidarity between Korea and China, both under the control of the expansionist Japanese. Jiang Jieshi stated the following in recognition of Yun’s efforts:

‘One Korean hero executed what a million Chinese soldiers could not perform.’

Quotation from Yun Bong-gil:

‘ Why do people live? To realize their ideals. Purple grasses bloom and the trees bear fruit. I have also decided to bloom my ideals and bear my fruit. I have realized that there is a love in our younger generation far much stronger than love for parents, than love for brothers, and than love for wife and children. The passionate love for our nation and people. I have chosen this path, resolving to follow this passionate love, even though I throw away my rain and dew, my rivers and mountains, and my parents.’

Maehun Memorial Foundation

Yangjae Citizen’s Forest

236 Yangjae-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul

02 578-3388

www.yubonggil.or.kr 

This information came from the handout in the Memorial Hall written by Shin Yong Ha (Professor of Seoul National University)