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Friday, 21 November 2014

Parks around Han River in Seoul, Part IX: Seonyudo Hangang Park

Seonyudo Hangang Park (Hanja: 仙遊島漢江公園) is located on Seonyudo (SeonYu Island), one of the islands situated on Han River. The park used to be a filtration plant, but was converted into an ecological park. Seonyu literally means "a place of scenic beauty". Seonyudo Park utilizes the previous filtration plant to a great extent. It contains four parks and many walking trails. Apart from these, the park has other facilities such as Seoul Design Gallery, and a botanical garden. Seonyudo Park is a much loved place where visitors can experience nature and relax with beautiful views of the river.

Once upon a time, Seonyudo island (also known as Seonyubong) had a small peak and picturesque, jagged cliffs. This beautiful setting inspired wandering Confucian gentleman scholars, or seonbi (선비), who came here during the Joseon Dynasty to paint and compose poetry.

But in a dramatic shift of fortune, this small island on the west side of the Han River (not to be confused with the island of the same name in Northern Jeolla Province) had its mountain and cliffs removed during the Japanese occupation of Korea, and in 1978, it became the site of a sewage treatment plant. Twenty-three years later, the plant was shut down, and after two years of planning and restoration, Seonyudo island was transformed into a gorgeous, eco-consciousness park that opened in 2003.

In recent years, “eco-consciousness” has become a popular buzzword around Seoul. A few years ago the city government unveiled an ambitious 30-year “Han River Renaissance Master Plan.” A kiosk near Seonyudo Park‘s entrance promoted the city’s environmental strategic plan for the Han River and the metropolis that surrounds it.

In 1998, a concept known as “New Seoul” was unveiled with the goal of making Korea’s 600-year-old capital a more livable place for its 10 million inhabitants. The initiative’s major goals were: 
  1. Create easily accessible parks
  2. Restore the Han River’s fragile ecosystem
  3. Offer more public cultural events.

The 110,000-square-meter Seonyudo island park seems to do all three. Described by the Seoul Metropolitan Government as a “postmodern space,” the award-winning park harmoniously combines the organic with the industrial by preserving the former treatment plant’s structures and integrating them into a series of gardens. Water is the island’s principle theme. For example, bygone settling basins for water treatment chemicals are now home to small fish and many species of aquatic plants that naturally purify water.

Seonyudo Park used to be a filtration plant that supplied drinking water. The park opened in 2002 and the existing infrastructure has been turned into a water purification park, an aqua botanical garden and an ecological water playground. This ecological park acts like an oxygen tank offering fresh air to Seoul citizens and has now become a very popular tourist destination with over 300 visitors daily.

The old site of Filtration Plant is now used as the cafeteria which is called Cafeteria “Naru”. This cafe has a transparent glass wall so visitors can enjoy a relaxing time as they sip on tea or coffee and take in peaceful views of the Han River. The ivy-covered cafeteria has beautiful surroundings including three willow trees. The cafe offers simple snacks and beverages and was built on the site of the former pumping station.

The park is accessible via Yanghwa Bridge, en route to Seoul Mapo-gu on the northbound side by using taxi, after stopping at the Station 912: Seonyudo Station on Seoul Metro 9