If you live in Seoul you will spend a lot of your summer soaking up the sun on the Han River. Your Saturdays could be spent at the pool, playing volleybal, or having a picnic. Parks in Korea are convenient and a great recreational activity to spend your weekends on. The Hangang river is an important feature of Seoul, running straight through the city, it is the perfect place to hang out at with good friends.
A favorite discovery I have made this summer is the swimming pool area near the famous Jamsil sports complex. It is the first spot I have found in Korea that makes me feel comfortable as a foreigner to freely enjoy a summer sun experience. The pool area is filled with trendy Seoulites who are pushing the boundaries of breaking the conservative culture of Korea. At the swimming pool you can order chicken, drink a beer and rent a sunbed for $10. The entrance fee is $5 for a whole day pass from 8 a.m to 7 p.m. The pool area is open 7 days a week during the summer months.
The Hangang Park swimming pool has all sorts of people and the crowd ranges from young to old. The swimming pool area has four big pools, two of them splash pools and two of them regular 25m pools. There are plenty of lifeguards on sight and when swimming you need to wear a cap. This is a rule for boys and girls so if you want to resemble some form of sexiness you can opt for a straw hat or a peak cap. You do not have to wear those unflattering swimming caps.
For those of you who do not enjoy tanning and swimming, you could enjoy a chilled picnic on the river with picnic baskets and blankets. The greatest thing about Korea is that you can even BBQ and pop open a beer freely. On the weekends, plenty of Koreans enjoy drinking and eating samqyeopsal and bulgogi under tents and picnic chairs. There are large areas of grass and you could also enjoy a stroll along the river. You will find plenty of things going on at Hangang park, like street artists, performers and even stuntmen enjoying river sports.
Parks in Korea offer a lot of great recreational activities. One activity I enjoy doing is renting a tandem bicycle and cycling down the river with a good friend enjoying the buzzing river side. Just be careful you don't get knocked over by the crazy traffic that includes runners, cyclists, rollerbladers, dog walkers and leisurley strollers. Another great way to enjoy your time outside is to get a group of friends together and head to the volleyball courts. The courts are easily accessible and free. Other foreigners enjoy playing badmington, rugby, football and frisbee. There are even regular sports fanatics who create foreign clubs for those who love playing sports and want to meet new people.
If you live close to the river, a morning or evening run is very refreshing and highly recommended, and the great thing about living in Seoul is that the city is the safest city center you will ever live in. Being a young woman, I enjoy the freedom of feeling relatively safe while going for a run. Safety is one of the many reasons I love Korea.
Another experience I basked in at the Hangang river last summer, was enjoying a sunset cruise on the Han river with the Hangang River Ferry Cruise. The cruise departs daily and is the best way to enjoy the scenery around the Han river. There are three places along the river that you can get on and off: Yeoido, Jamsil, and Ttukseom. On the cruise you can experience seeing Seoul from a refreshing viewpoint such as seeing the surrounding islands, 63 Building, Namsan Tower, and Olympic Park. The fee is about $10 and there are restaurants and bars onboard.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!