Right in the middle of the ever-expanding urban jungle that is Seoul, a masterpiece of a park called, “Seoul Forest” has been developed. With over 400,000 trees and 100 different animals, it responds to the locals' need for nature and a break from the hustle and bustle of this concrete city.
Seoul Forest was created in 2005 on a huge patch of land that has been home to many different uses. Used by kings in the past as a royal hunting ground, it later became a military inspection facility, then a racetrack, golf course, and recently, a sports park.
KRW235 billion was spent on the development project that created five separate parks on the 17 million square feet site. These five parks (or zones) include a Cultural Art Park, Ecological Forest, Nature Experiencing Studying Field, Wetlands Ecological Field, and the Han River Waterside Park.
On a sunny, nearly spring day, my husband and I rode our bikes to Seoul Forest. We had gotten lost along the Han River but came out and saw the well-marked road signs (in English) to the forest so we followed them past Ttukseom Subway Station then to the park.
March is not the best month for sightseeing, the trees and flowers have yet to bud and the landscape looks bare from being hidden under the snow for a month. But the sun was shining and everyone was out in full force for a day at the park.
We rode our bikes through the entrance and checked out the park map by the Family Field Zone. The decorative flowerbeds happened to be bare but I’m sure not even a month from now, flowers will be sprouting everywhere and cherry blossoms blooming above. A favorite past time during the spring season is to picnic under these delightful trees.
We headed off towards our favorite zone, the Ecological Forest! The Ecological Forest boasts of a wild collection of wildlife. It is home to fallow deer, Formosan deer, elks, chipmunks, Mandarin ducks, mallards, spot-billed ducks, and moorhens.
My favorite – the deer! Oh Bambi, who wouldn’t love those big eyes? It was a lazy day for the deers too though, they were bathing in the sunlight and ignoring all the calls and food from the open palms of the tourists. Finally, a doe came over and munched on some grub from the ground. In the background, more than 50 deers were in a huge enclosed area away from the public, doing I guess what deers do best – eat and play!
We said our “goodbyes” to big eyes and headed to the Han River Waterside Park, located on the southwest of Seoul Forest. We looked out fondly over the concrete jungle; the juxtaposition of the river, the park, and the skyscrapers reminded me of what a beautiful vibrant city Seoul really is.
Seoul Forest is appreciated not only by the locals but also by tourists taking a much-needed break from some of Seoul’s more popular tourist activities (don’t shop ’til you drop!). Seoul Forest can be compared to the likes of Hyde Park in London and Central Park in New York. It is a great place to take a day trip to, it’s free and open all day, everyday of the year.
Ttukseom Subway Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 8.
It is a 15min-walk from the station.