On my many trips to the airport, as I passed over one of the westernmost bridges on the Han River, I have often looked back north to notice a hill by the river with a pagoda on top. On my many trips to Ilsan I had also noticed signs for the Haengju Mountain Fortress. I only just realized recently that these two were the same place.
Just beyond the main gate is statue of General Kwon Yul, who led his force of 3,000 against some 30,000 Japanese troops. His remarkable victory is depicted in relief in four panels behind his gold-toned statue.
If you are looking for a quiet afternoon walk, with a commanding view of Seoul and the Han River, Haengjusanseong might be the answer.
Just some more pics of one of my favorite parks in Seoul. Click on “Sky Park” in the “Parks” section above for videos and more pictures. I’d recommend a fall visit because that’s when the sky is clear and at its most dramatic.
On this particular visit, I was able to see all of Seoul’s five tallest buildings. Looking back east, Yeouido and Gangnam is visible while Ilsan is off on the western horizon. To the north of the park is Seoul World Cup Stadium and Bukhan Mountain and across the river is Mokdong and Seoul’s second tallest building, Hyperion I.
There used to be a city bus that ran up to the top of Haneul Park and then on over to Sunset Park, but now there is just limited shuttle service from the base of the mountain. On weekends the wait can top 30 minutes, so just taking the stairs may be a better bet.
Getting there: Take Line 6 to World Cup Stadium Station. All three of the exits are about equidistant from the park. Make your way around to the opposite side of the stadium. There you’ll see the stairs that lead up the flat-topped mountain that is Sky Park. The stairs are quite a walk — wouldn’t recommend visits during summer.
In days long past, I was concurrently enrolled in three Korean classes of varying levels at the YBM main branch across the street from Jongmyo, so surprisingly I share a long history with this park — best known for being the hoppingest haunt for elderly Korean men this side of the Han. After finishing class, I came over here almost every day to pour over my books in the shade of one of the many towering trees. Unfortunately, back in those days, the park was also ground zero for anti-American demonstrations so I often found myself turned away by cops in riot gear and protesters with pickets that read “Go home yankee!” Anyhow, a trip here will leave you feeling as if you just opened a window and peered into the Korea of yore.
Getting there: Take Line 3, 5, or 1 to Jongnosamga Station. You’re there!
This park is temporarily closed for renovation.
Here’s a video of the Birdman doing his thing: The Birdman of Jongmyo
Northern Seoul Dream forest, Seoul’s fourth largest park, was renovated and reopened in October, 2009. There is a wide variety of terrain here, including natural relatively untouched forested areas, grassy expanses, waterfalls, eco-park, an animal habitat, and a recently planted bamboo forest. It’s less crowded than Seoul’s other parks — perhaps, because it’s quite a way off the beaten path — making the overall experience more relaxing.
Getting there: Take Line 4 to the Mia Samgeori station and head out through Exit 1. Look for a bus stop nearby and jump on Bus 9 or 11. These buses will drop you of across the street from the main gate.
This park occupies the former site of a water treatment plant. The unsightly sewage facility was shuttered in 1998 and Seonyudo Park was opened to the public in 2002. The ecological park has won wide acclaim for the creative ways in which the remaining concrete structures have been transformed and given new roles, e.g., concrete basins now hold aquatic plants etc.
If you’re planning a trip, these sites have more information and pictures: