South of Myeongdong on Mt. Namsan is Namsan Park, popular for hiking trails, tourist attractions, N Seoul Tower, and panoramic views of downtown Seoul. Namsan, meaning “South Mountain”, is the largest park in Seoul attracting over 20,000 people a day who visit here to experience a little slice of nature in the middle of the urban city.
Some of the most spectacular views of downtown Seoul and the surrounding area can be had at the peak of Namsan at 262 meters (860 feet) and better yet, at the top of N Seoul Tower which soars another 237 meters (777 feet) into the sky. .
During the rule of Taejo, the first king of the Joseon Dynasty, Namsan was considered a sacred shamanistic site. He ordered the construction of a fortress wall that would protect the city from invaders. The wall that ran through Namsan marked the southern boundary of the city. Some sections of the wall still exist to this day.
In 1925, the Japanese, who occupied Korea at the time, built an important Shinto shrine known as Chosen Jingu at the peak of Namsan as part of their policy of Japanization. The shrine was dedicated Amaterasu, the Japanese goddess of the sun and universe and Emperor Meiji, the 122nd Emperor of Japan who reigned from 1867 to 1912. After the independence of Korea in 1945, the shrine was demolished.
In 1970, the Patriot An Chung-gun Memorial Hall was built on the former site of the Shinto shrine. This memorial hall was built in honor of Ahn, a Korean nationalist and independence activist. who assassinated Ito Hirobumi, the former prime minister of Japan and first Resident-General of Korea at Harbin Railway Station on October 26, 1909. A year later, on March 26, 1910, Ahn was executed for his actions.
Though most visitors come to Namsan Park to enjoy the views, the nature, or go for a hike, there are also a few interesting sights to see. Other than the N Seoul Tower, there is the Mongmyeoksan Beacon Hill Site (Bongsudae), a set of beacons constructed to warn the city of incoming enemy invasions, an octagonal pavilion known as Palgakjeong, and Locks of Love, a wall of locks that symbolize endless love for those who hang them.
Mongmyeoksan Beacon Hill Site
Mongmyeoksan Beacon Hill Site was constructed to warn the city of incoming enemy invasions and to transmit news of emergencies to the government in Seoul. The name means “beacon hill in the capital.”
During the Joseon Dynasty, a system of beacons were set up which allowed long distance communications. Fires and smoke emitted from the beacons alerted local people in the area and the military that an enemy was approaching.
During the day smoke signals were used to transmit messages. During the night, fire signals were used.
Mongmyeoksan Beacon Hill Site, one of five stations on Namsan, was rebuilt in 1993 using blueprints from geographer and cartographer, Kim Jeong-ho.
Locks of Love
Locks of Love is a collection of locks that have been hung and locked into place on a wall next to N Seoul Tower. They symbolize endless love between those who hang them.
There is a legend that if lovers make a wish at the top of Namsan Mountain, then it will come true.
If you remember, bring your own lock and add it to the collection of thousands of other locks.
Namsan Park is open 24 hours but attractions in the area have varying operating hours.
Visiting the area is free including Locks of Love and the Beacon Hill Site.
N Seoul Tower and the Namsan Cable Car both require a paid ticket.
Namsan Cable Car : Taking the cable car up is the easiest and most convenient way up. From Myeongdong Station go out of exit 3 and continue south on Toegye-ro 18-gil street. When you reach the Pacific Hotel, turn left onto Toegye-ro 20-gil street. When you see the Ministop, turn right onto Toegye-ro 20-na-gil street. At the end of the street is the lower cable car station. The ride takes about three minutes to the top.
Bus : The peak of the mountain can be reached by Yellow Bus. You can board the bus outside Chungmuro Station (Line 3 or 4, Exit 2) or Dongguk University Station (Line 3, Exit 6). The fare is 500 (metro card) or 550 won (cash).Walking : There is a pedestrian walkway across the street from the Namsan Cable Car lower station. The hike up the stairs to the base of N Seoul Tower takes at least 30 minutes. From the cable car station parking lot (directions above), turn left and walk for about 50 meters. The stairs are located across the street.