Amid a slew of skyscrapers and boxy apartments in Seoul lies a tiny mountain where any visitor can trace back the history of the city. A mountain that is so modest that most could have neglected it for decades. A mountain named after camelback for its unique shape, where even a mindless urban wanderer would encounter a stunning view of Seoul. A mountain which now is a beloved pastime destination with marvelous scenic spots.
Here at Naksan, both strangers and locals alike find a perfect getaway from the daily grind in the city that never sleeps.
Historically, Naksan has been a living witness of Korea’s glorious golden time, tragic modern events, and vibrant transformation. In the Josun Dynasty Era, which dates from 1392 to 1897, Naksan had accommodated numerous royal families with a spectacular panorama of the entire city. On top of the scenic beauty, this camel-shaped mountain had played a pivotal role in security along with Namsan, Inwangsan, and Bukaksan, serving as one of the four Guardian Mountains.
This fortress wall that used to link the key mountains in the era now stands solemnly on the camelback overlooking the city’s ceaseless metamorphosis. As if it was struggling to fight off the evanescence of life and time.
After going through the haphazard land developments that followed the Japanese invasion and the deadly Korean War, which devastated more than 80% of land in the entire nation, much of the fortress wall was destroyed. Yet, hikers and walkers at Naksan today get to take a glimpse at the refurbished wall as a result of a restoration project by the end of the 20th century.
Today, Naksan itself is turning into an urban park swarming with families and lovers seeking a short excursion with fresh air and spectacular views both day and night. Strangers and locals alike would sit on the fortress wall and halt for a moment staring at breathtaking sunrises and sunsets of the city…
…on the very same camelback mountain which has been through the city’s most dramatic events in history.
Seijin is a rather unusual globalist living in Seoul. He is currently working as a full-time marketing strategist in Seoul. Follow Untapped Cities on Twitter and Facebook! Get in touch with the author @seijinjung.