Is Seoul beautiful? That depends on where you stand

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Is Seoul beautiful? That depends on where you stand

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Seoul is fast-paced and dynamic, but when it comes to beautiful views, people find it harder to think of compliments. Recently, the Seoul metropolitan city government named its “50 best views in Seoul,” compiled by asking each of the city’s 25 district offices to select more than 100 places in their districts with a beautiful view. The city then picked the places it judged to be the most stunning, eliminating any sites that charged for the view (such as Seoul Tower or the 63 Building).
Seoul city plans to erect signs at the scenic points, build observation decks and install benches, exercise equipment and telescopes.
“Seoul’s citizens don’t know how many places there are with good views,” said Yang Jae-youl, a Seoul city official. “Many people tend to go out of the city to enjoy the scenery. I hope that the list helps Seoul citizens appreciate the city more.”
Not surprisingly, most of the sites are on mountains or cliffs, and it often takes a good deal of walking or hiking to reach them. Not many, however, are well-known or heavily traveled. The JoongAng Daily visited the nine it felt looked the most interesting.

1. Namsan
Almost all Seoul residents know about the observatory on top of Namsan, perhaps the most visited place for views of Seoul. The observatory, located in Yejang-dong, Jung district, is located near Seoul Tower. Even without going up in the tower, though, visitors can get panoramic views of Seoul from the Han River to the south to Mount Bukak, Mount Bukhan and downtown Seoul to the north. In summer, a cool breeze sweeps over the mountain, and in fall, the blue sky appears to blanket the city. The view can be spectacular both day and night, though in different ways. Though cars are not allowed up the mountain roads, it can be reached by walking, taking the cable car or the No. 02 bus from the National Theater of Korea.

2. ‘Photo Island’
“Photo Island” is the nickname of the observatory in Itaewon-dong, Yongsan district, on the road that winds its way around the mountain. The city built the wooden observatory deck on top of the mountain. From the wooden deck facing south, visitors can see Seoul Tower, the Han River and southern Seoul spread out underneath them. Though cars are not allowed up the mountain roads, it can be reached by walking, taking the cable car or the No. 02 bus (the yellow one) from the National Theater of Korea.

3. Mount Nak
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Mount Nak, known as Naksan, is not as well-known as the observatory areas on Mount Bukak or Namsan, but it’s closest to the city center and is one of the easiest places to reach among the 50 sites. Many people who visit Daehangno Street in Dongsung-dong, Jongno district, may have missed the area or may not even know the fact that there is a mountain with a view in that area. The mountain has a gentle slope, and visitors can easily trek up wooden stairways and walking paths to reach the top. There’s an octagonal pavilion halfway up the mountain where visitors can see Namsan, Seoul Tower, Mount Bukak and downtown Seoul.
To get to the pavilion, walk through the crowded streets of Daehangno and Marronnier Park and find the stairs that lead to the mountaintop. It takes about a 15-minute walk to reach the park’s entrance from exit No. 2 of Hyehwa station, line No. 4.

4. Mount Bukak
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Mount Bukak and the Bukak Skyway are at the top of the list of great views. At the highest point of the Bukak Skyway in Pyeongchang-dong, Jongno district, is an octagonal pavilion that houses two restaurants. Quieter than the crowded observatory area in Namsan, the observatory area here is located across downtown Seoul from Namsan and next to the Blue House. From the observatory on Mount Bukak, onlookers can see Seoul Tower and Seoul’s downtown to the south and Mount Bukhan to the north. As the site’s lack of access to public transportation limits its number of visitors, it can be a remarkably tranquil site in an overcrowded city.
The Bukak Skyway is probably the most scenic drive in Seoul. The road is lined on both sides with mansions surrounded by high walls. Fences appear on the sides in some parts of the road. The Blue House, the official residence of Korea’s president, is located at the foot of the mountain, and there are a number of small military posts here that guard the area.
To get on the Bukak Skyway, turn right at the end of Sejong Avenue, then immediately turn left. After passing many restaurants and galleries, turn right when the barricades and guards are visible. Then follow the road to the top and follow the signs.
Those without cars can board the green bus near exit No. 3 at Gyeongbokgung station, line No. 3, but the bus only goes halfway up the mountain.

5. Mount Bonghwa
The Jungnang district office in northeastern Seoul recommended two mountains as scenic points: Mount Yongma and Mount Bonghwa. Mount Bonghwa, located in Muk 1-dong (pronounced “il-dong”), Jungnang district, is situated right behind the Jungnang district office. The district built a recreational park at the foot of the mountain and set up walking tracks and exercise equipment. It’s an easy 15- to 20-minute walk to the top, from which visitors can see the Jungnang Stream and Dongbu expressway, and Namsan and Seoul Tower further west. To reach Mount Bonghwa, get off at Junghwa station on line No. 7 and transfer to bus No. 1223 or No. 2216 and get off near the Jungnang district office.


6. Mount Yongma
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Mount Yongma in Myeonmok-dong is steeper than Mount Bonghwa, and requires at least an hour of serious hiking to reach the top. Fortunately, a wooden staircase goes all the way to the top and a few spots on the way provide refills of mineral water. From the top of the mountain, visitors can see the Han river and Jungnang district to the west and Guri city to the north.
To reach Mount Yongma, get off at Sagajeong station on line No. 7 and walk to Sagajeong park, near the entrance of Yongma Hanshin apartments, at the foot of Mount Yongma.

7. Mount Eungbong
Mount Eungbong in Geumho 4-ga-dong (pronounced “sa-ga”), Seongdong district, is really more of a hill than a mountain, being low and with gentle slopes. On top of it, however, is a pavilion with a great view of Seoul Forest, the Seongsu Bridge and the Han River. There are stairs to the top, and it takes 10 minutes to walk up to the observatory area from the street. The nighttime view is particularly stunning, with lighted bridges and expressways on both sides of the river.
To get to the mountain, get off at Eungbong station on the Joongang line (formerly known as line No. 1), which connects Yongsan station with Deoksu station. There is only one exit. Walk straight out of it and transfer to bus No. 211 or No. 2411 heading west. Get off at the next stop in front of Hyundai Apt. in Eungbong-dong.

8. Technomart Tower
One of the city’s surprise choices was the Technomart tower in Gueui-dong, Gwangjin district. The “Sky Park” on the tower’s ninth floor has an excellent view of the Han river, Olympic bridge and southern Seoul. There are also a CGV movie theater and a few restaurants on the same floor.

9. Mount Maebong
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Mount Maebong in Hannam-dong, Yongsan district, is another friendly neighborhood mountain. The mountain has an octagonal pavilion at the top, but visitors shouldn’t be fooled ― that’s not the scenic point the district recommended. Find the tennis court and take the route from there to the top; there will be a pavilion before you reach the peak. At the small pavilion, visitors can see the southern side of Namsam and Seoul Tower.
To reach Mount Maebong, get off at Beotigogae station on line No. 6 and get out at exit 3. Walk past the Namsan Town apartments on the left and the pedestrian street will lead to a tennis court. The walk track starts from here. An alternative route starts at the Namsan Town apartments.


Seoul’s Top 50 Scenic Points

Pyeongchang-dong Mt. Bukhan
Mt. Bukak Pavilion
Cheongun-dong, Mt. Inwang Namsan, Seoul city
Sindang 3-dong, Mt. Geumho Mt. Bukhan,
Mt. Dobong,
Mt. Surak and the city
Hannam-dong, Mt. Maebong Namsan Tower Hotel
Geumho 4-ga, Mt. Eungbong Seoul Forest and
Han River
Junggok-dong, Mt. Acha ridge Han River, city
Gueui-dong, Technomart Olympic bridge
Han River
Dapsimni-dong, Mt. Dapsimni Seoul Tower, city
Myeonmok-dong, Mt. Yongma Han River,Guri city
Muk1-dong, Mt. Bonghwa Seoul city
Jongam1-dong, Mt. Gaeun Mt. Cheonjang, city
Sangwolgok-dong, Mt. Wolgok Mt. Cheonjang, city
Jeongneung, 4-dong Mt. Bukhan Mt. Bukhan, city
Mia 3-dong, Odong Park Mt. Samgak
Banghak-dong, Dobong Jungnang Stream,
district office city
Gongneung 2-dong, Mt. Bukhan, Mt. Dobong
Gongneung Reservoir
Sanggye 3-dong, Mt. Bulam Mt. Surak, Mr. Bulam
Eungam-dong, Mt. Baengryeon Haneul Park, city
Sinsa-dong, Mt. Bong Haneul Park, Noeul Park, Han River
Bukgajwa 2-dong, Bulgwang Bulgwang stream,
stream, Haedamneun bridge Mt. Bukhan
Hongeun 3-dong, Mt. Baengryeon Mt. Bukhan,
summit Inner Expressway
Seongsan-dong, Mt. Maebong Haneul Park,
― Seongsan forest Noeul Park, city
Mok 2-dong, Yongwang Arbor World Cup Stadium,
Han River
Mok 1-dong, Yeonghak Arbor Anyang Stream
Sinjeong 7-dong, Kalsan Anyeong Stream
Banghwa 2-dong, Mt. Gaehwa Banghwa Bridge,
Han River
Gayang 2-dong, Haneul Park, Han River
Huh Joon Museum
Gaebong-dong, Mt. Gaeung Mt. Gaeung, city
Siheung-dong, Hanumul Region Mt. Gaehwa, city
Doksan-dong, Doksan Bridge Diksan Bridge stream,
― Doksan Bodo (pedestrian) ecological sights
Bridge
Doksan-dong, Geumcheon Park Mountains, parks,
city
Yeouido-dong, Han river Yeouido riverside,
63 Building
Heukseok 1-dong, Hyoja Arbor Namsan, Olympic High
way, Han River
Bon-dong, Yongbong Arbor Park Mt. Inwang, Jungjido,
Han River
Sinrim-dong, Mt. Gwanak Mt. Guanak, Yeouido,
city
Bangbae-dong, Mt. Umyeon Mt. Guryong,
Mt. Umyeon, city
Daechi-dong, Tan stream, Tan Stream,
Yangjae stream confluence Yangjae Stream
Ilwon-dong, Mt. Guryong summit Seoul city,
Mt. Guryong
Jamsil-dong, Seokchon lake Seokchon Lake
Magic Island
Ogeum-dong, Seongnae Stream Seongnae Stream
Bangi-dong, Olympic Park Mongchon Wall and its
surrounding area
Gil 2-dong, Mt. Ilja Ecological park,
Godeok-dong, Mt. Godeok Han River
Jung district, Yejang-dong Mt. Bukhan, city
Octagonal Pavilion area
Yongsan district, Itaewon-dong Mt. Gwanak, Seoul Tower
circular way mid-slope south
Mapo district, Sangam-dong Mt. Bukhan, Han River
Haneul Park
Jongno district, Dongsung-dong Mt. Inwang, city
Naksan Park
Yeongdeungpo district Traditional buildings
Yeongdeungpo district Seonyu Bridge, city
Yanghwa-dong, Seonyu bridge
Seocho district, Banpo-dong Cole flower area,
Hangang Seorae island Han River


by Limb Jae-eun

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