Just Off the Beaten TracksThe subway that runs north and south through the port city of Incheon connects many of the community's best cultural attractions. Historic sites, parks, museums, shopping centers and arts centers all lie close to the public transportation line. There are 22 stops between Gyulheon in the north and Dongmak in the south. Here are some of the best stations with the coolest places to see.
Dynasties, Dynasties, Dynasties
Gyesan Station is a must to check out, since the area near this subway stop is rich in cultural remains from the Joseon Dynasty. Use exit No. 3 and head toward Bupyeong Primary School. As soon as you reach the school, you will notice a Korean traditional building called Bupyeong Dohobu-cheongsa. Records from the 1480s show that this building was an administrative office constructed in the time of King Sejo. The office originally consisted of 23 buildings, all of which save one were burned down during the war with the Japanese between 1592 and 1598. There are other sites such as Yokeunji and Eosadae next to the old building. Yokeunji is the pond King Jeongjo used to bathe in after playing archery at Eosadae way back in the 17th century.
Exit No. 5 at Gyesan station leads to Bupyeong Hyanggyo, a local school that is part of a Confucian shrine. It was founded by King Injong of the Goryeo Dynasty in 1127, but burned down during the war with the Chinese in 1636. It was reconstructed in 1688 in the reign of King Sukjong of the Joseon Dynasty. At the entrance is a hongsalmun, a traditional red gate with a spiked top. Inside you will find a shrine called Daeseongjeon where a memorial tablet for Confucius is kept, and a lecture room called Myeongryun-dang.
Also in the neighborhood of Gyesan Station is a fortress located on Mount Gyeyang. There are only a few traces remaining of the ancient stone fortress, which dates back to the ancient Three Kingdoms period, but there are still great views of the city from the fortress's pavilion.
Getting Your Kicks
Those who love soccer might consider getting off at Munhak Sports Complex Station. Munhak Stadium will be a site for next year's World Cup soccer games. From the subway station, take exit No. 1. The stadium, which is nearing completion, will eventually accommodate 51,000 spectators. The stadium will have a stunning roof designed in the shape of a sailboat to symbolize Incheon's shipping history.
About a 20-minute walk from Munhak Stadium is Incheon Hyanggyo, eight traditional buildings used as shrines and classrooms. There is a portrait of Confucius in Daeseongjeon, and a shrine with memorial tablets for 20 Chinese sages including Confucius.
The area surrounding Incheon Hyanggyo, unfortunately, is too heavily under construction to be considered a tourist attraction. Soon it will reopen, with a folk village, traditional Korean houses and a cultural center.
The Shows Must Go On
Arts Center Station, as the name suggests, is a great spot for the creatively inclined. A short distance from the station are a variety of cultural facilities including Incheon Multi Culture and Art Center, CGV Incheon 14, a large movie cineplex, and a farmer's market. Incheon Multi Culture and Art Center (032-440-6500), with two performing halls, a convention hall and three exhibition halls, is the biggest of its kind in the city. The arts center offers concerts and art exhibitions throughout the year, except Mondays when it is closed. CGV Incheon 14 is crowded with young people all the time, and is part of a growing trend of cinemas with all the best amenities.
For those interested in trains, Gyulhyeon Station is the ticket. The railway depot office at Gyulhyeon Station offers free tours of the site on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. At the depot, you can watch mechanics inspecting or fixing trains, and getting them ready for service. Remember to book in advance. For more information on the tour, visit www.irtc.co.kr or call 032-451-3742.
It's a Gas
Dongmak Station is close to the Gas Science Museum, a popular place for field trips. The center offers a free education program for visitors to learn how energy is produced. The center is open on weekdays only to groups, but individuals can visit on Sundays with a reservation. For more information, call 032-822-4492.
by Eum Tae-min