The Grass of Sky Park
It’s the only time of the year, in my opinion, that Sky Park, or Haneul Park (하늘공원), is worth visiting. For most of the year Sky Park is in preparation mode for fall. In the spring and summer, the plots of land are cordoned off so people don’t step on them or set up picnics. This allows the eulalia stalks to take root and grow grow grow, but that also means that there isn’t much to see in the spring and the summer, unless you enjoy watching grass grow. In the winter, it’s cold and the stalks have died and have been cut down and the area cleaned to begin anew in the spring. Come fall however, the grass is tall and it’s easy to get lost in the paths that criss-cross the area. To find a place in this city where you can get lost and not see people for a time is really a breath of fresh air.
Weaving through the tall brown and tan stalks of eulalia, cogon grass, and buckwheat gives me short glimpses back to growing up in Ohio. Not that I was constantly walking through fields of wheat back in Ohio, but having quiet moments where the only things I can see are blue skies, the sun setting and tall stalks of grass blowing around me reminds me of the Midwest in the autumn. Back when I had just started driving and gas was cheap, I’d jump into my car and drive south of Kettering to where the houses would disappear and the fields of corn and wheat would take over the scene in front of me. With the windows down and the music blasting and the smells of vegetation wafting into the car with the cool wind those were my moments of serenity. Finding similar moments of serenity can be difficult in a city this big, but when they are found they are even more appreciated and welcomed and every fall I can count on Sky Park for one of these moments.
Eighteen years ago this mound was a landfill that had hit capacity with over 92 million tons of garbage. Dirt was piled on top and the only reminders of that time today are vents and tubes scattered on the mountain to maintain safety and recycle the methane gas produced from the mountain into fuel for World Cup Stadium and the nearby neighborhoods. The area has been completely transformed through the Landfill Recovery Project started in 1996 with the grasses that have been planted and the release of 30 thousand butterflies to establish a natural ecosystem once again. From this park views of the city, Mt. Namsan, Mt. Bukhansan and Mt. Gwanaksan.
If the grass or the views aren’t enough and you’re looking for something a little more festive, the Seoul Eulalia Festival is held here every October. The park remains open until 10PM during the festival and the area is lit up allowing visitors to get a beautiful view of the area as well as a beautiful view of the city lit up below.
마포구 상암동 482
482 Sangam-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
Bus: 271, 6715, 7011, 7013A, 7013B, 7019, 7715
Subway: Closest subway station is Worldcup Stadium Station. Take exit 1 and look at a local map in the station.
Hours: Change depending on the season so be sure to check. Currently they’re open until 6:00PM, but it can be 5PM, 6PM or 7PM depending on the month.