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Friday, 6 June 2014

Gildong Ecopark, Seoul Gangdong-gu: Easternmost Ecological Park in Seoul

Established in 1999, Gildong Ecological Park or Gildong Ecopark (Hanja: 吉洞生態公園; total area: 80.683m²) in 1298 Cheonho Boulevard/Cheonho-daero, Dunchon-dong 558-beonji, Seoul Gangdong-gu is an ecological park maintaining and preserving a wide range of flora and fauna in their natural habitats, allowing local people to observe plants, animals and insects in a natural ecosystem, and become aware of the importance of our natural environment. The park consists of 5 main areas: Marsh Area (for water plants, insects, frogs etc.); Reservoir Area (birds and fish); Forest Area (trees and vegetation growing in their natural habitat); Grassland Area (exact replica of a rural village landscape with various types of primitive dwellings, e.g. a dugout mud hut etc.); Plaza Area (outdoor exhibition and observation areas and a visitor information center).

Gildong Ecological Park is designed so that visitors can observe various living creatures such as plants, animals and insects in their natural environment as they wander through the park. The Reservoir Area comprises a log bridge (Deck) with special log posts, eco-friendly floating logs, an artificial island and vegetated pond providing ecological stability and a habitable environment for water organisms. Some of the worlds’ rarest species, such as common kingfishers, Herons, Ardeidae, lovebirds, Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha and Charadrius dubius can be observed in this area, alongside all kinds of plant life and fish, including Chinese minnow, Monochoria vaginalis, slender bitterling and Shiri. Observation points are installed throughout, allowing visitors to observe the water life.

This replica of a rural village always attracts the attention of visitors. It makes a representation of the primitive human environments, which successfully blended with their natural environments. A thatched cottage, a dugout mud hut and stone walls are presented, along with observation points flanked by different vegetable plants including cabbage, radish and courgettes.

This thickly forested green area covers 38,857m² of the Forest Area and consists of various relaxing and restful places. Water plants, such as water lilies and reeds, can be seen flourishing all over the marshland. Colorful dragonflies and various species of beetles are always popular with children.

Gildong Ecological Park beautifully presents the ebb and flow of the seasons constantly at play in nature. Crimson wild strawberries, dock leaves, and chickadees can be seen in spring, while beautiful reeds (in the marsh land), thousands of flowers, and the rice crops growing in front of the park all make this ecological park unique and precious. Moreover, golden fields in autumn make for an impressive sight, and in winter, a stroll through the pretty snow-covered park is an absolute must. 

Close to the park is Gildong Ecological Cultural Center. The center explains the purpose and functions of an ecological park so that visitors can understand and learn more about the significance of natural ecological environments, and providing them with useful guides as they tour the park. Since its opening on 22nd April 2005, the center has offered various hands-on programs and events for children and visitors. On display are all kinds of stuffed or preserved specimens including birds, wild boar, spiders, bee hives, insects and mushrooms. All programs are conducted in Korean. Reservations are required in advance. 

The park has introduced strict protocols in order to maintain and protect the ecological environment of the park. Visitor numbers are limited to no more than 200 a day, and advance bookings are essential. Only 30 visitors at a time may join the park tours, which are operated 6 times a day. Gildong Ecopark is accessible by using Interstate 100 LOOP: Seoul Ring Expressway and exit to EXIT 6: Sang-il IC or SMRT Line 5 to Station 549: Gildong Station.