World Cup Stadium Station, Exit 1
I don’t think I could ever imagine Payatas becoming something close to a garden, let alone a park. But Koreans continuously surprise me by turning a once-landfill to a walking heaven appropriately bearing the name Haneul* Park. I wonder why it didn’t even cross my mind that my mom and I will be walking approximately three hundred steps to reach the sky park (inappropriately stupid laugh here). The Sky Park is one of the five parks in World Cup Park and is situated at the highest peak. In 1993, it stopped operating as a landfill and how the park looks now is just heavy proof how nature can become a masterpiece again given the chance to reclaim itself.
We joined the ahjummas & ahjussis (middle aged women & men), students, couples, and families making their way up the stairs. The older generation, particularly, didn’t even show any signs of breaking a sweat so up we went trying to fake healthy legs and lungs. If you’re one who gets tired easily from walking up, no need to fret or forget coming to the beautiful park. After every 25 or so steps you’ll find resting areas where you can look down and adore the beauty of the city while catching your breath.
Like all other parks and mountain hikes around Seoul, Haneul Park is one where you could easily escape the city life when it gets a little too much for you. It’s also a popular spot for pre-nuptial photoshoots. I don’t recommend coming here if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Korea though, the hike can take up to 45 minutes and taking in everything is another thing altogether if you really want to enjoy it. I think my mom and I didn’t go to any other place after going here because it was already almost sun down.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed our halmeoni**-made kimbap here as I continue reading my Murakami book. With the guidance of my Korean instincts, we visited the park exactly on its day – Seoul Eulalia Festival – making the trip up extra special and with extra more people coming along with us. Emerging from the hike, we were welcomed by the festivities happening: a lot of stalls where you can do different activities (mostly art).
The park also gives you an insight into another side of Seoul – the quiet, the calm and peaceful Seoul. It’s where people of all generations come together and bond over the beauty of the city and the chilly winds.
* Haneul is the Korean word for “sky”
** Halmeoni = grandmother
Don’t forget to check back next week for a Korean beauty post! :-)