Desolation in Springtime

There is an old children’s amusement park in Seoul called Yongma Land that has been closed and abandoned for years now. Legend has it that wanderers can still amble in to poke around the park and I had been wanting to check it out for some time.

Springtime in South Korea is a beautiful time of year. Cherry blossoms line the streets and sprinkle the roads with pink and white petals. I could imagine the contrast of trees full of life, surrounding a park left for dead. With that in mind, I made it my mission to find my way to Yongma Land during cherry blossom season for optimal picture taking. Below are the results of my voyage.

For those who want to go, take the subway to Mangu station (on the jungang and gyeongchun line) and head out of exit 1. You could walk there but the road gets a little winding and difficult to explain, or you can just hail a cab for 3,000 won (approx. $3 CAD). Just say “Yongma Land” and they will know. They get lots of tourists going there and it’s at the base of Yongma mountain so the area is well-documented.

If you take a cab, he will let you off in an area that looks like this:

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Walk to the left of the toll booth you see in the center and head up the staircase. This will lead you to the mouth of the park. The gates will be closed but you will see a sign that says, “to enter, call this number.” Call that number and tell the man who answers that you would like to come inside. He will take you around to the side entrance and for 5,000 won (approx. $5 CAD) you will be set loose in the park to do as you wish.

The gates in the center is where you will come up to when you climb the stairs.

The gates in the center is where you will come up to when you first approach.

Many people come here to take photos professionally, as I saw in two seperate areas of the park that day. K-Pop videos and dramas have also been filmed here over the years. If you look closely at the carousel picture below, you will see some ladies in white. There was a photo shoot going on with about 6 grooms and 6 brides. Shoes and accessories were all over the ground by their vans and photographers were crawling all over.

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Moving on, I will let the pictures tell the story from here.

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The ghost of Mickey approves this ride.

The ghost of Mickey Mouse approves this ride.

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An old "viking" boat sits in decay under a beautiful cherry blossom tree.

An old “viking” boat sits in decay under a beautiful cherry blossom tree.

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Times are tough for pirates these days.

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A view from the roof of an old office building on site. The dragon and other artifacts lay scattered on the rooftop. Step lightly!

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Back on the ground…

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Notice the photo shoot going on behind Mr. Creepy Pig. Right across from the brides was a staircase that wound up and towards the back of the park. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to go up there but no one was telling me not to, so off I went. It was silent up there, away from the tiny models and shiny shoes. It looked like a graveyard of childhood memories, but since those memories were not mine, I  jumped right in.

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Where clowns go to die.

Where clowns go to die.

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Finally the photo shoot was finished and I had a chance to get close to the carousel.

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Back towards the old main entrance, this scene was a true sign of the times. Old video arcade machines stood near the bushes, guarded by a lonely viking detached from his ship, limbless and left to nature.

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Being at the base of Yongma mountain, this old children’s park is mostly on an incline. After about an hour of hiking and climbing, I felt the burn of a good workout. Quite an interesting way to spend a Saturday afternoon! The park is rumoured to be scheduled for complete demolition anytime now, so for those who want to check it out, I suggest you make haste.

4 thoughts on “Desolation in Springtime

  1. What a colourful and fascinating place. Imagine if all the figures and rides suddenly came to life! Love, Uncle Ran

  2. That place is so eery, I wonder why they’ve kept it there for so long. I like the photos of the carousel best, it looks so sad and run down now.

  3. Hi Karli:
    An interesting trip down memory lane.
    I wonder why the park went bankrupt. Lack of interest, maybe. So sad.
    When youse come to North Bay. Nana and I will get you on our big Carousel and the smaller one and youse can have a great time and then sit in the cab of the locomotive and youse can blow the horn when I’m operating.
    lotsa love and you know about them nickels! (Don’t take none, no how)
    nana and gramp xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxoooooooooooooo

  4. Great pics and storylines too. You select such unique shots, nice touch Karli. Keep up the tremendous work, I love it!
    Miss you, Aunt Boo

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