When I was in elementary school, I used to be taken to Seoul Forest (which is a park, despite its name) every few months by my church as a “mini-retreat” – we would feed the deer raised at the park and have small picnics on the large stretches of grass. Wanting to take advantage of the time I now abundantly have because of social distancing, I visited the park in early July to see how much it had changed over the past 10 years.
|[The author at a picnic bench at Seoul Forest (Photo courtesy of Rachel Lee)]|
As a child, I was only taken to specific parts of the park, such as the deer-feeding section, so I had never understood how large Seoul Forest actually is. There are various statues and reflecting pools, as well as animal observatories that allow for guests of all ages to enjoy their park experience. I noticed in particular that despite the myriad of activities and large area of land the park offers, there were not many people at Seoul Forest. Although there were a few couples out on dates and numerous Korean “ajummas” (older married women) who were utilizing park facilities to read or relax, the park was not crowded at all. I was reminded of how crowded Hangang River Parks are and thought that if people wish to go to outdoor locations amid social distancing precautions, Seoul Forest is a far better alternative.One of the attractions I enjoyed the most at Seoul Forest was the Sculpture Gallery, which is located near the park’s entrance. Although they looked like arbitrary masses of rock from afar, from up close, a multitude of large, meticulously crafted sculptures were scattered across large areas of grass. Because visiting indoor art galleries or museums is considered dangerous right now due to COVID-19, and many national galleries and museums have actually been closed by the government until further notice, visiting Seoul Forest may provide guests with the rare opportunity to enjoy art while abiding by social distancing measures. With many statues built by several renowned artists and sculptors in South Korea, Sculpture Gallery appealed to the park’s younger visitors – I noticed that many kids seemed to enjoy the hand sculpture – pictured below.
|[A photo of a sculpture at Seoul Forest (Photo courtesy of Rachel Lee)]|
Another attraction that I enjoyed was the picnic area set up at the heart of the park. Just like the Sculpture Gallery, the picnic area was also marked by a large statue of a picnic bench. Surrounded by trees and other dense greenery, there were several picnic tables with floral arrangements. It was clear that the picnic area was the favorite of many visitors; families, couples, and friends were gathered at the tables to munch on snacks and rest before taking on the rest of Seoul Forest.
|[The picnic statue at the “Picnic Garden” in Seoul Forest (Photo courtesy of Rachel Lee)]|
After visiting Gyeong-bok Palace last month, I realized the importance of taking advantage of vacations (and social distancing) to get to actually know my city. After seeing the cultural history of Seoul in June by visiting various palaces and museums, Seoul Forest gave me a taste of modernized Seoul. Since Seoul Forest is open on a 24-hour basis, I highly encourage residents of Seoul to visit. Being able to visit a natural park as large and engaging as Seoul Forest within a city of skyscrapers was an invaluable experience.
Seoul International School
Rachel Lee email@example.com
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