Hiking Under Surveillance along Seoul Fortress Wall

Trekking the Seoul Fortress Wall is one of those “naturey” things you can do without leaving the city. The stone wall goes in a large loop and connects the four mountains surrounding the center of Seoul: Bugak-san to the north, Nak-san to the east, Nam-san to the south, and Inwang-san to the west. It was built back in 1396 and runs for more than 18km. We hiked the stretch from Waryong Park to Changuimun Gate, heading westward for probably 3km.

If you remember, we hiked another wall back in April, at Namhansanseong Fortress. Aside from the fact that they’re both fortress walls, I wouldn’t even compare the two experiences.

Seoul Fortress Wall, for one thing, offers really great views of the city. The weather was perfect that day, sunny and clear skies. Everything was green now, too. This path is also better maintained and mostly paved. Sure, there are some stretches of dirt you can walk along if you prefer, but if your goal is to walk along the wall itself, you’ll mainly be climbing concrete and wooden steps. Namhansanseong felt more woodsy and natural.

Probably the biggest difference is that this particular stretch of the hike took us “behind” — north of — the presidential Blue House of South Korea, located at the base of Bugak-san (as you can see below).

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As a precaution against crazies trying to attack the president, there are certain security measures in place for hikers passing through this stretch. For instance, you have to check in at the Malbawi Information Center, fill out a little form, show your passport, and get a badge in order to proceed. The path is also monitored by surveillance cameras and security “guards” (hehe, right), who mainly tell people where they can’t go and what they can’t take photos of. Will and I are pretty sure they only care about Asian foreigners taking photos, because we took photos and they didn’t say anything to us. But other Asians around us kept getting yelled at.

The large, stone gates were cool to see, as always, and again, the views were great. I think that was my favorite part.

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See Seoul Tower in the distance? It sits on Nam-san, which is the mountain marking the southern point of the Seoul Fortress Wall. So, the wall runs all the way there:

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It’s hard to see, but the light post in the photo below also has a surveillance camera on it:

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Here’s a tree that got all shot up in 1968 when some North Korean soldiers came to attack the Blue House. Story below:

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This part got surprisingly steep!

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A bit further ahead, we arrived at Changuimun Gate. The little doorway you see below is where Will bonked his head as those Asian guys looked on and laughed.

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This statue is of the police chief who was killed during the 1.21 Incident (aka the Blue House Raid) you read about earlier:

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And here are just some photos from our walk home:

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For more photos from our Seoul Fortress Wall hike, go to my Flickr.

Up next: Spending time with the animals at Seoul Grand Park.

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