August 19, 2011

reuse & recycle...

The Seonyudo islet is a tiny strip of land that rests in the middle of the Han river. This piece of land was first utilized in 1978 as a sewage treatment plant, and provided tap water to residents south of the Han river. Things worked that way until 1998 when the Seoul Metro Government started to shut the plant down. The city wanted to figure out at a way to turn the land into something useful once the plant would be completely shut down in 2000. After some deliberation and thought, the city invested a lot of money (16 billion won) into the island to create Seoul's first recycled park. The idea of recycling land for parks was later used at World Cup Stadium, where a landfill was converted into one of the cities largest, and nicest parks.

In 2004, the Seonyudo Park opened with many pieces of the sewage plant remaining. Parts of the plant were completely destroyed while others were converted into theme areas and gardens. The former pump house was converted into a cafe, and is the only place you can buy food on the island. One of the resting tanks was revamped into an amphitheatre, while several others currently house varieties of water plants. The park is also home to a museum on the history of the Han River, and a greenhouse filled with botanical plants. To increase acces to the park the city constructed a bridge cleverly nicknamed 'rainbow bridge'. The nickname is clever, because at nightly when it is illuminated by various coloured lights, it looks like a rainbow (aparantly). I have never seen this bridge, or island, at night, so I can't really offer any colourful commentary about it. I hear it is a big reason why the island is popular with couples.

I first stumbled upon this green space while on a bike ride along the river. My friend and I were not able to visit this refuge due to a strict no bike policy, and we didn't have locks, so I vowed to return. It would take me a further three months before I would return to this spot. I didn't know it's name, nor did I even really remember where it was. A random trek to the river in search of the island paid dividends. I found and somewhat fell in love with the park, and the gardens contained within. It's all based on escapism, I love the idea that I can escape to place like this in the mega city known as Seoul.

This park is a renowned romantic spot in Seoul, couples usually flank the pathways on blankets with picnics, and the bridge at night (as previously mentioned). It is also an extremely popular destination for photographers. The Pillar garden? (I have no idea what it's called) is a hot spot for photo shoots. I haven't been able to stroll past it without people dressed up in some sort of costume or period attire being photographed. Apparently numerous Korean celebrities have also done photo shoots at this spot.

In the times that I have been I have seen some girls in some very interesting costumes. I'm assuming they are some sort of anime costume. They weave through the pillars with ribbons and laser guns firing. On my last visit I happened to notice an entire group of men dressed in American military uniforms with air-soft guns and gas masks. The thing that this area does really have going for it is this dystopian image of a future overgrown with (meticulously) manicured gardens. 

I've come to use the island for similar reasons, while not actually doing photo shoots. I come to the park to fool around with my camera. I have had a lot of fun while playing around with my camera and the different theme areas on the island. There are so many different textures and surfaces on the island which create interesting photos. While I haven't come to the island for any romantic excursions, I can see how it earns the reputation. At the very least it is a great place to come and hide from the hustle and bustle that is Seoul.

 take me there:
  • Subway Line #9 to Seonyudo station (exit 2) walk straight, and walk across the Rainbow Bridge.
  • Subway Line #2 to Dangsan Station (exit #1) then bus (605, 6623, 6631, 6632, or 6633) getting off at Hanshin Apts then walking across the Rainbow Bridge
  • Subway Line #2 or #6 to Hapjeong Station (exit #8) then bus (604, 5712, 6712, or 6716) or walk to Hanshin Apts then walking across the Rainbow Bridge


  1. I like your blog and writing style. I'm planning on visiting korea next february, so your blog is giving me a few ideas on where to go and what to expect. Thanks!

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  3. hmm hope i will be in korea someday... :)
    anyway thanks for sharing, there are many beautiful water plants too in my country though, and we call it as 'enceng gondok and teratai plants'

  4. Thanks for this informative post. In case you haven't heard, Recyclebank has just teamed up with Greenopolis! Now you can earn both Recyclebank and Greenopolis points everytime you recycle. Check out this video-- I learned about the news here.