This magical little hillside area of Inwangsan, just north of Anguk is hardly a secret; it’s listed in the Lonely Planet as one of two recommended walks in Seoul. However, after my first venture up this beautiful hillside I just had to put it in here as one of my favourite haunts. It’s a lovely mini escape from Seoul that affords a great view over it too. It can be steep in places, so beware! If it’s dry and dusty like it was for me, you’ll be navigating some downward paths by hunching down and skidding on your feet, or maybe by bumping down on your derriere. Only in the most elegant of fashions, of course!
The hillside itself is like a dreamy Korean landscape; soft, streaky, very noble looking, yellow grey rock faces and deep green pines scrabbling to bury their spindly toes into the dusty peach earth. At this time of year too, with all the azaleas and cherry blossoms, it’s especially picturesque. Easily accessible from Dongnimmun subway, you will begin to ascend the hill past a collection of depressing identikit apartments into a far more serene environment. Follow the path up past a Shamanist temple and bronze bell, where people have left offerings of magkeolli (rice wine) and sweets (lucky spirits!). Thereafter, follow the path to the left and past occassional collections of bizarre looking stand alone rock formations which have been eroded oddly to give them the appearance of swiss cheese. You will be faced with a choice of paths that will then wind you round the hillside. We passed a number of people chanting Shamanist mantras and ringing small bells whilst undertaking a ritualistic ripping and binding of white cotton, which embues even more magic into the atmosphere of Inwangsan. Whilst scrambling up the rocks, you are treated to amazing views south over Seoul. A perfect location to play spot the landmark in!
We followed the fortress wall back down the hill and the walk only took two hours, so this is what I mean when I say it’s a perfect mini escape from Seoul. You could choose to follow the wall further up and into Inwangsan, which I will definitely be doing at some point in the near future. The best thing about this walk is that within 10 minutes of leaving the subway, you are transported into a landscape that looks like it could have been lifted from a traditional silk mounted ink drawing, yet are looking down onto the sprawling metropolis below.
Take line 3 to Dongnimmun and exit by exit 2. Turn into the first alley on the left and it’s straight forward from there. Don’t forget your camera!