Plan Your Trip
Yeouido: Seoul's Island of Parks
Story and photos by Matt Kelley
Long before Yeouido Island became the so-called “Manhattan of Seoul,” it was pastureland and peanut fields that frequently flooded. Indeed, the name Yeouido means, “Useless Island.” That all changed in 1970, however, when a new bridge to the island kicked off its rapid development. Today, Yeouido is regarded as the epicenter of Seoul’s political, financial and broadcasting worlds.
Although Yeouido is better known for the serious business happening inside its towers, it’s what’s outside them that has long impressed me. Two large parks line the island’s oval-shaped perimeter, while another one creates a greenbelt down the middle. Together, these parks comprise 300 hectares of some of Seoul’s best green spaces. The recent construction of Subway Line 9 has made accessing them all the more convenient.
Once the site of Korea’s first airport, the 23-hectare plot in the center of Yeouido has long been a popular spot for rallies and recreation, alike. The park is beautifully landscaped with mature trees, shrubs, lawns and flowering azaleas. Wide walking and bicycle paths meander the periphery while the park itself is divided into three sections. The west end is dominated by a large blacktop for events, a 50-meter-high flagpole, and kids on wheels. If you didn’t bring your own bicycle, don’t worry – for 3,000 won you can rent one. The middle section may be my favorite, thanks to its rolling grassy fields that make for a pefect picnic spot on a sunny day. The eastern third features a grove of Korean pine and a traditional pavilion, but it’s also where you can use the pedestrian tunnel to access the Yeouido Hangang River Park.
Directions: Yeouido Park can be accessed via Yeouido Station on Seoul Metro Lines 5 and 9 (exit #5 and turn left) and National Assembly Station on Line 9 (exits #3 and 4).
Yeouido – Hangang River Park
The Hangang River Park system creates a wonderful green belt on both sides of the river. Yeouido’s section was completely redone in 2009 as part of the “Hangang Renaissance Project.” The 25-year plan is to rehabilitate the river and transform it into a world-class attraction. For Yeouido, that meant constructing a floating amphitheater, installing athletic fields and a public water park, and unveiling a new “Color Park.” Located beneath the Mapo Bridge, the latter explains Seoul’s official color palette via display and sculpture. The Park’s most distinctive element is a wide and shallow water feature punctuated by granite slabs. Sitting casually amongst all the human traffic is a sculpture of a red man with fishing pole in hand.
Directions: Yeouido – Hangang Park can be accessed via Yeouinaru Station on Seoul Metro Line 5 (exits #2 and 3).
Saetgang Ecological Park
From the vantage point of an island skyscraper, you would be forgiven if the question, “This is an island?” came to mind. Yeouido fits snugly against the Hangang’s southern bank; in fact, only a narrow stream separates it from the mainland. But these wetlands, known as the Saetgang Ecological Park, are an important buffer between the island and bustling Yeongdeungpo. Also completely renovated in 2009, today the park features large willow trees and reeds that camouflage fish, fowl and even rabbits. Footbridges make it easy for pedestrians to view the plants and animals underfoot. Also under construction is an ultra-modern, 354-meter footbridge that will cross the marsh sometime in 2012.
Directions: The Saetgang Ecological Park can be accessed via Saetgang Station on Seoul Metro Line 9 (exits #3 and 4) and Yeouido Station on Lines 5 and 9 (exit #1).
With warm weather finally arriving in Seoul this spring, now is a great time to visit Seoul’s many parks. Thanks to the large size and diverse offerings of Yeouido’s green spaces, I can’t think of a better destination for your next weekend picnic or riverside bike ride.
Matt Kelley writes about Korea on his blog, www.DiscoveringKorea.com.
- Yeoeuido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul -
Line 5 Yeouinaru Stn.
Line 5 Yeouido Stn.
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[2010-05-10 14:22 Input / 2011-04-18 15:31 Modify] Article source:Seoul Metropolitan Government Tourism Division