6 December 2013
This weekend, we went to Seoul Forest (서울 숲 pronounced “soh-ool soop”) for a picnic with some Korean friends. It is a large green area set along the northern side of the Han River (한강) and surprisingly, right in the center of the bustling metropolis of Seoul; although surrounded by trees and twittering birds, it certainly doesn’t feel like you are in the middle of this massive city.
Seoul Forest was opened in 2005 by Korea’s controversial tenth president, Lee Myung-bak, while he was still the Mayor of Seoul. The Seoul Forest consists of five “themed” parks (sculpture, ecological etc) and it covers over approximately 1.16 million square metres. Lee Myung-bak also created the beautiful Cheonggyecheon stream (one of my favourite places in Seoul!) and he is also accredited with having introduced the rapid transit buses to the city’s transportation system.
It was truly amazing to find this little piece of heaven in the middle of the craziness that is Seoul and we thoroughly enjoyed exploring the park and forest during the peaceful afternoon.
We managed to get to the sculpture park, a couple of open grassy patches, an educational greenhouse, a butterfly farm, a deer enclosure, waterfalls and quiet benches; as well as plenty of place to picnic, ride bikes, walk and enjoy the sunshine. There is is also a bridge near the deer enclosure, which leads over the wide Han River to the other side. The south side of the Han River is mainly sports parks, walking areas and bicycle tracks.
Armed with our silver picnic mat and gimbap (as the Koreans do), we found a shady spot near the grassy patch that was also hosting a children’s festival that day called “Treasure Island”; near the convenience store and coffee shop, which are also, obviously, available in the middle of the forest (because, it would be unacceptable to escape to a forest if there wasn’t a convenience store and a coffee shop available). Only in Korea I tell you!
As with anywhere is Seoul, you can get easily get to the park in several different ways.
Car: We drove here using the GPS and paid about 8,000won for (outside) parking for the afternoon.
Bus: Front entrance (2014, 2412, 2413 or 2224, and get off at Seoul Forest), or Back entrance (141, 145, 148 or 410, and get off at the back gate of Seoul Forest).
Subway: Seoul Forest Station (Subway Bundang Line), Exit 3. or
Ttukseom Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 8.
Make the trip
It was certainly worth the trip and we hope to visit here again soon. What a lovely retreat for Seoulites who need to escape the madness of the city for while!