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South Korea Sojourns VII: Yeouido Park

Cherry blossom trees bloom on the streets outside of Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The park, located next to the National Assembly Buildling, is renowned for its scenic cherry blossoms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

Cherry blossom trees bloom on the streets outside of Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The park, located next to the National Assembly Buildling, is renowned for its scenic cherry blossoms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A child pedals his bike in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The park is located next to the Han River, and is a popular afternoon destination in the spring and summer. (U.S. Air force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A child pedals his bike in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The park is located next to the Han River, and is a popular afternoon destination in the spring and summer. (U.S. Air force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

People walk across pointy rocks in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Walking across the harsh rocks are suppossed to massage and ultimately relax feet muscles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

People walk across pointy rocks in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Walking across the harsh rocks are suppossed to massage and ultimately relax feet muscles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

Water flows down rocks in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The park has several ecological attractions including a small preserved forest. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

Water flows down rocks in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The park has several ecological attractions including a small preserved forest. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A speed and sail boat go opposite directions underneath a bridge in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Sailing in the Han River is a common spring and summertime activity in the South Korean capital. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A speed and sail boat go opposite directions underneath a bridge in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Sailing in the Han River is a common spring and summertime activity in the South Korean capital. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A street entertainer balances a flaming torch on his nose in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The performer, who wore a sweater with Charlie Chaplain on it, performed several juggling tricks with fire and knives for the crowd. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A street entertainer balances a flaming torch on his nose in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The performer, who wore a sweater with Charlie Chaplain on it, performed several juggling tricks with fire and knives for the crowd. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A street entertainer prepares to digest fire in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The performance included several juggling routines with knives and fire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A street entertainer prepares to digest fire in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The performance included several juggling routines with knives and fire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A couple talks on the bank of the Han River April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The river is adjacent to Yeouido Park, a major spring and summertime destination for people in the South Korean capital. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A couple talks on the bank of the Han River April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The river is adjacent to Yeouido Park, a major spring and summertime destination for people in the South Korean capital. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

A band performs at the Cultural Center in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. There are frequent performances in the pavilion throughout the spring and summer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro))

A band performs at the Cultural Center in Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. There are frequent performances in the pavilion throughout the spring and summer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro))

A couple exits Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The park is accessible daily throughout the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)
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A couple exits Yeouido Park April 12, 2014, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The park is accessible daily throughout the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Author's Note: This is the seventh in a series of articles about recreational travel opportunities for service members stationed in South Korea. Each article will highlight a specific South Korean destination, attraction or event within the authorized travelling distance for U.S. forces in country. The aim of this series is to encourage everyone to safely and enthusiastically explore their surroundings, develop an appreciation for the history, culture and customs of their host nation, as well as showcase the diverse activities available to service members, and their families, near and far, while stationed in the Republic of Korea. Concluding each article will be an approximation of how much money and time are required for each destination, attraction or event, as well as directions and amount of physical activity required. Many opportunities to travel in groups are available through the base's Information, Tickets and Travel office as well as Outdoor Recreation.

Located centrally in the big city, near the National Assembly Building, Yeouido Park is a major weekend hangout for people in Seoul. Aside from the usual park amenities, including walking and cycling trails, basketball courts, soccer fields, picnic areas, street foods and outdoor foliage, the park's riverfront views and famous cherry blossoms in April make it a wonderful way to spend a day in the South Korean capital.

Preparation and expenses for this trip are wonderfully simple as well. It only takes about 70-80 minutes to go from Songtan Station to Yeouido, and a round trip will only cost W4,000. Additional costs can include lunch or dinner, plus a marginal fee if you want to rent a bicycle in the park.

I spent a day in Yeouido in April to see the cherry blossoms, but the place will be a great spot for a picnic or day out with friends and family in the summer as well.

Among its many great qualities, Yeouido is very close to Osan Air Base. I left around 11 a.m. for my destination, and had plenty of time to spend a long part of my day there before heading back.

After getting off the metro, I first went to check out the cherry blossoms on Yunjurno Street, which were in full bloom and floating in the wind after falling off the trees. This makes for a particularly satisfying stroll in the spring time, but the trees shade also make it a nice place to take a break year round.

In addition to the nearby blossoms, the section of the park next to the Han River has a lot of places for games, including soccer fields and skating parks. There's also an abundance of cycling trails, and a lot of couples were riding the tandem bikes available for rent in numerous locations along the walk by the riverfront.

A short distance from the water front, Yeouido park itself has a small ecological preservation with a traditional Korean forest, a pond and a walking trail intended to showcase the look of an old Korean forest. I walked around all of these and had a great time meeting peoples, some who just wanted to say hi and others who wanted me to take a picture of them (since I was carrying my conspicuously bulky camera gear with me.)

Later on in the evening, I stopped by the cultural square and caught a performance from a local band. Most of the songs were in Korean, but there were a few selections of older English songs, and the free concert was fun anyway. Additionally, there were a few street performers doing old Charlie Chaplain type routines on the street.

I brought some fruit and other snacks with me, but there are plenty of spots for an affordable dinner nearby, and the grassy outdoors is the great place to get something to go and have a picnic.

In all, I spent about 10 hours out and about the park, enjoying the outdoors, chatting with local students interested in my camera gear and just having a great time. I hopped back on the metro late in the evening, giving myself plenty of time to get home before curfew.

Yeouido isn't a major tourist attraction or giant cultural destination, but it's the kind of place I love to find when I travel. An inviting and pleasant experience is all that I ask for when I go places, and the park gave me that and more. This is a great way for an individual or family to spend a day, and I'll definitely take my wife out here for a picnic when she visits me this summer.

Location/event: Yeouido Park

Directions: Easy to get to via metro. From Osan Air Base take line 1 to Yeouido Station on line 5, only requires one transfer.

Total Cost: W4,000 for transportation. Food varies.

Time: At least a half day, but since it's so close travelers have the option of spending a little or lot of time there.

Documentation required: None

Who it's for: Families, groups of friends and anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors on the riverfront.

When it's open: Year round.

Activity required: As little or as much as wanted. Walking, cycling and other forms of light exercise should be easy for everyone. There are also basketball courts and soccer fields for those interested in more competitive/taxing activities.

What to travel with: Any food and water you don't want to buy on location. Nothing else is required, but always make sure to take your SOFA and ID card as well as a functioning cellular phone. As always, when traveling, groups are preferable, and the atmosphere in the park is amicable for people of all ages.