Walkabout: Yongmasan, Seoul

Well, it’s about time for another walk through a random part of a city, right? The ground rules were laid out here. Last time found us in suburban Murray, UT. Today we’re in a very different place: Yongmasan, a station on the 7 line subway in Seoul. With a free day in Seoul, I picked it out randomly – well, sort of: literally translated, Yongmasan means “dragon horse mountain,” which sounded kind of cool.

Just outside the station, there’s this overpass on Yongmasan-ro, set among Seoul’s ever-present density.

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This view is from about the same place, back towards central Seoul.

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Density!

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Oh. Well, that’s hard to miss. This park and enormous dry waterfall were just steps away from the city. The falls were dry at that time of year (May) but they must be pretty interesting in the summer monsoon.

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A trail led up towards the top. Well, why not?

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If it looked like it was steep from far away, well it looked the same close up.

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Like LA, Seoul has many hills and small mountains that rise abruptly from the surrounding valleys. It only takes a little elevation and a little effort to get a great view of the city. This isn’t really that different than the view of Glendale from Mt Thom, right?

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Um, well, yeah, it is.

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Of course, after scrambling up to the top in flip flops like a fool, I came across this slightly more improved trail.

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The views from Yongmasan stretch across much of the city. Unfortunately it was foggy, and an iPhone 4 camera doesn’t really do it justice anyway.

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Descending the mountain (the right way), I came out to this street at the foot of the hill, with community garden plots. And lo, what is that, a four-story podium with open parking at the ground level!? Clad that thing in stucco and it’d be at home anywhere in LA! (Well, except for the zero setback.)

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It doesn’t take long to get back into the city.

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Tuck under parking is hugely popular in this neighborhood.

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Wandering south past Junggok Station, came across this way cool street arcade and vending area. Modern development is more likely to be malls… which are cool in their own way.

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After some food, I headed west to the Dongbu Expressway, which you certainly won’t be seeing featured in urbanist blogs about Seoul anytime soon.

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I crossed the river on Cheonho-daero, to Janghanpyeong, and – I swear I’m not making this up – randomly found the headquarters of the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation, which runs the 5-6-7-8 subway lines. You’d never know that the 1-2-3-4 lines are run by a different agency. Maybe they cooperate with each other instead of engaging in turf battles that hurt riders?

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That’s it for this time. Next: back to Montreal!

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