Spring outing in Seoul off the beaten path

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Apr 20, 2015 - 19:14
  • Updated : Apr 30, 2015 - 16:16
This is the fourth and last installment of a series introducing Korea’s springtime tourist destinations. ― Ed.

Korea is once again celebrating spring, which provides an opportunity of warm weather amid the country’s tempestuous seasonal fluctuations.

For those who want to revel in the outdoors this season, away from the crowds that occupy outing hotspots, The Korea Herald suggests three lesser-known but picturesque locations in Seoul.

The Hangdong Railroad, located in Guro-gu, now serves mainly as a promenade. (Rumy Doo/The Korea Herald)

Railroad promenade

Once busy with industrial transport, the rusty tracks of Hangdong Railroad now serve mainly as a promenade for those seeking a unique hiking trail.

Stretching for 4.5 kilometers from Guro-gu to Gyeonggi Province, the railroad exhibits a desolate but charming landscape, as chipped metal peeks through the tangle of weeds that line the unkempt area.

The single-line railroad was completed in 1959 by KG Chemical to move raw material and products. Now, it is almost inactive and used only occasionally to carry military supplies.

The tracks have undergone some beautification as the area has grown in popularity. Sculptures made by students from the nearby Sungkonghoe University are scattered along the way; phrases that describe the course of our lives, such as “Youth is brave at 25” or “Becoming a parent at 31,” have been artfully engraved onto some of the wooden ties.

The railroad can be reached by subway at Exit 2 of Oryudong Station, Line 1 or at Exit 2 of Cheonwang Station, Line 7.

Visitors might also like to stop by the adjacent Pureun Arboretum, which boasts 25 themed gardens and over 2,100 plant species.

The fun never fades

At the foot of Mount Yongmasan rests Yongma Land, an abandoned amusement park where faded cartoon characters and an unplugged merry-go-round stand unlit in complete stillness.

Though the rides have not operated since 2011, the place is now sought out by photographers and film crews who want to capture its eerily captivating ambience.

The park opened in 1983, but closed following a prolonged slump in business against big-name competitors like Lotte World and Everland.

Visitors might want to drop by sooner rather than later, as the owning family has decided to invest 18.2 billion won ($16.8 million) in building a brand new outdoor theme park at the location. Construction is tentatively set to begin in December.

Yongma Land is located at San 69-1, Mangu-dong, Jungnang-gu. Visitors can enter from morning until evening, and at nighttime with prior permission. The entrance fee is 5,000 won per person.

Mountain greenery

At the heart of Ansan is the Jarak-gil, a hiking trail enveloped in mountain greenery. (Seodaemun-gu Office)

To bathe in the spectacle of spring flowers like cherry blossoms and Korean forsythias, walk along Jarak-gil at Ansan, a mountain located north of Yonsei University.

The 7 kilometer circular trail winds around the mountain’s ridges, which are covered with tree species ranging from nut pine and Korean spruce to the false acacia. Amid this ecological feast is an outdoor stage where concerts and festivals are often held.

At 296 meters high ― a notch taller than the famed Mount Namsan, which is 292 meters tall ― Ansan provides a scenic view of key Seoul attractions such as the Blue House and Mount Inwangsan.

The Seodaemun-gu Office has also installed ramps for the safety and convenience of persons with disabilities.

Nearby attractions include the Seodaemun Museum of Natural History, a fun and educational site for children.

Ansan is located in Bongwon-dong, in between Muakje (subway Line 3) and Sinchon (subway Line 2) stations. A full tour of the trail takes around two hours and 30 minutes.

By Rumy Doo(