Yongin is a largely unremarkable suburb south of Seoul that’s developed rapidly since the 1990s, as its forests of new, identical apartment blocks attest. It is, however, also the home of some major attractions, notably the Everland amusement park and Korean Folk Village, which ensure a regular stream of tourist traffic.
Everland (310 Jeondae-ri, Pogok-eup, Cheoin-gu, tel. 031/320-5000, www.everland.com, daily 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., ₩37,000) is Korea’s oldest theme park, having opened in 1976, and still the country’s largest. It packs in just about every imaginable diversion into its five zones, including a zoo with animal rides and shows, haunted houses, mock medieval castles, an Aesop fable-themed village, and of course a host of rides, including a massive Ferris wheel and Korea’s largest roller coaster. Other facilities include a speedway and a golf course, as well as a water park, Caribbean Bay, that’s immensely popular in the summer months.
For those partial to more cultured pursuits, Everland is also home to the exceptional Ho-am Art Museum (204 Gasil-ri, Pogok-eup, Cheoin-gu, tel. 031/320-1801, http://hoam.samsungfoundation.org, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m., ₩4,000). Launched with a collection donated by the late founder of the Samsung Group, it has expanded into the country’s largest private museum, displaying some 15,000 works of art in a large traditional-style building. The collection is mainly of Korean work and runs the gamut from Buddhist sculpture to ceramics, calligraphy, and folk paintings, including a number of national treasures. Best of all, the museum is set in a gorgeous garden that is a masterpiece in its own right, featuring ponds and paths laid out according to ancient principles and adorned with pavilions, statues, and even a quiet teahouse.
Yongin’s other main attraction is the Korean Folk Village (107 Bora-dong, Giheung-gu, tel. 031/288-0000, www.koreanfolk.co.kr, daily 6 a.m.-6 p.m., ₩12,000), a 243-acre compound that attempts to recreate the atmosphere of a late Joseon dynasty town. With some 260 buildings ranging from commoners’ earth and straw-roofed huts to the elegant, tile-roofed homes of the nobility, it certainly looks like the real thing, and is a very pleasant environment for a stroll. It’s also intended as an outlet for the promotion of traditional crafts, with around 20 active workshops producing things like baskets, bamboo wares, instruments, and embroidery. Visitors can participate in old-style games like arrow-throwing and seesaw-jumping, and take in daily performances by tightrope-jumping acrobats and farmers’ music troupes.
Everland and the Korean Folk Village are not known for exceptional eateries, but they do have several restaurants, food courts, and snack stalls to cater to hungry visitors, most of which serve passable Korean food. Suwon and its famous marinated galbi are also a short distance from Yongin, so many people head there to eat.
With Yongin less than an hour away from Seoul there’s little need to stay overnight, but those truly enchanted with Everland can opt for the resort’s Home Bridge Hostel (tel. 031/320-9950), which offers functional (if slightly overpriced) accommodations in log cabin-themed rooms from ₩80,000 per night.
Getting to Yongin
Yongin proper is connected to Seoul’s subway via the Bundang Line (Jukjeon and Bojeong stations), but it’s easiest to reach its main attractions by bus. Express buses to Everland leave from Seoul’s Nambu and Dong Seoul Bus Terminals, and the resort is also served by city express bus number 5002 from Seoul’s Gangnam subway station (line 2). The Korean Folk Village is accessible via express bus 5001-1 departing from Gangnam station or a free shuttlebus from Suwon station (line 1).
Most Seoul cab drivers will also have no objections to taking visitors to destinations in Yongin (and vice versa), though with traffic the fares can add up—count on paying ₩25,000-50,000 each way. Travel times between Seoul and Yongin are typically around an hour.
© Jonathan Hopfner from Moon Seoul, 1st Edition