With the surging popularity of Korean pop culture, Seoul has gained popularity among Asian region (and sometimes beyond). While the streets of Garosugil, Hongdae, Myeongdong and perhaps Gangnam/ Apgujung are flooded with huge congregate of trendy cafes and high-end luxury goods, tucked away in the woods of Yongmasan, is an abandoned mini amusement park called Yongma Land(용마랜드), offering its visitors some nostalgic moments of the wonderful, wonderful days back in the 80s.
It feels surreal walking around the park. Since I am a sucker for everything nostalgic, I just had to check this place out. I can’t really explain the feeling when I first step into the park. It feels like stepping into a time frozen zone. Those scenes are somewhat identical to the mobile amusement park my parents used to bring me to when I was a kid.
Yongma Land, which is located at Jungnang-Gu, Mangu-Dong was open in 1980, with essential amusement park rides like Merry-go-round, Viking, Bumper car and etc. Back then, it was one of the hottest hangouts for young couples and families. However, when Lotte World opens in 1989, people lost interest in this humble, neighborhood amusement park. The park has officially ceased operation in 2011. Though it is no longer operating as an amusement park, the old-school and unique dilapidated atmosphere continue to attract visitors from a niche market such as photographers, as well as professionals in the video production industries.
The park is open to visitors at an entrance fee of KRW5,000 per person. The “profit” earned will be used to maintain a certain level of dilapidation in the park. The lights of the merry-go-round could be turned on at a standard charge of KRW 25,000 for about 10 minutes. However, if you’re lucky, the owner or the park keeper might switch it on for you for free. Personally, I feel it is a unique venue for wedding /pre-wedding photos in Korea.
If you are familiar with the entertainment industry in South Korea, you might come across with various productions with Yongma Land as filming location. Singer IU, as well as Crayon Pop’s music video “Bar Bar Bar” (빠빠빠), are two ideal examples.
So I was there at the park someday in the late autumn last year for another outdoor photo shoot with Azri, Neoh, and Toh Hui. It was my second time working with these young and talented photographers. And speaking about the location, it is really a hidden gem — and an instant mood-setter. I was able to quickly get into the mood despite the chilly weather that day. And so here comes the outcome of the photo shoot. Personally I love it better than my first photo shoot at Haneul Park the week earlier. What do you think?
Lost in Wonderland
The main “attraction” of the park was the merry-go-round. All things seemed to be left untouched there for at least 20 years or so. Super nostalgic, super old school. Time doesn’t seem to pass here, and I actually felt like Alice in the wonderland. It is surreal and strange, yet a little whimsical. Anyway, here are some of the pictures taken that day.
And, of course, some of the behind-the-scenes, candid shoot. You can tell I was really enjoying the whole session, despite the gloomy weather.
Abandoned Water Park
The abandoned Water Park cum swimming pool, and a huge abandoned building located beside Yongma Land is another good place for a photo shoot as well. However, the place turned out to be a private property, which is not included in the KRW 5,000 that you just paid for the park. We weren’t aware of that and went straight to the site and eventually got scolded by the site keeper for trespassing, despite the fact that the place was not fenced up, or was there anyone to stop us from entering the property at first. ; (
Anyway, here are some of the photos taken at the swimming pool. Since it is a private property, you are not encouraged to do whatever we did. It is always advisable to contact them through proper channel before the actual filming day.
That’s all for now. I am still waiting for Azri for the last batch of pictures at Yongma Land ; D I really had a wonderful time exploring the park. If you figured Gangnam district is too mainstream and want somewhere off the beaten path, this dilapidated amusement park is perhaps where you should head to on your next trip to Seoul.
Reminder: Once again I wish to gently remind any unauthorized use of portraits is prohibited. None of these pictures above may be reused in any form or by any means, without written permission from the photographers/ owner of the portrait. I am committed to protect my intellectual property and will aggressively enforce my rights to the fullest extent of the law.
Yongma Land 용마랜드
Mangu-Dong, Jungnang-Gu, Seoul.
Address in Korean: 용마공원 놀이동산, 서울시 중랑구 망우동
Nearest Station: Mangu [Read: Mang-woo] Station 망우역 Exit No.1
**There is no public transport to reach the park. It is a 10-15 minutes by foot from the station. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, it is best to hail a cab from Mangu Station, which cost about KRW 3,500 per single trip. I came across a blog with very clear directions, you might check out the awesome pictures and the directions on the blog here.
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