By Kim Hyelin and Yoon Sojung
A spectacular view of the Hangang River and a forest unfolds, and one's steps gain strength from his or her heartbeat and the city's noise blending together like background music. A timely breeze cools down the sweat on the forehead.
A dynamic way to enjoy a tourism venue is a ''run trip,'' or a course of touring a spot while jogging. This service normally has an individual traveler or a small group run with the organizer, who offers explanations on and introductions to a tourist spot's attractions and history. In the COVID-19 era, this outdoor activity kills two birds with one stone by having participants exercise while maintaining social distancing and appreciate the beauty of new places.
On a sunny day in May, a Korea.net staff member went on a run trip at two spots in Seoul: Nodeul Island in Yongsan-gu District and Haneul Park in Mapo-gu District. Both places were recommended by Ahn Jung-eun, CEO of Runderful. Her company organizes run trips and marathons and she also runs with participants.
The first destination was Nodeul, a small island on the Hangang River. This oval-shaped island backs the midsection of Hangang Bridge connecting the Dongjak and Yongsan districts of Seoul. In the mid-1960s, Nodeul used to have white sand that made it a popular summer spot for many Seoulites. When the development of the river began in 1968, however, the sand was cleared. Today, Nodeul is a comprehensive cultural complex that includes a concert hall.
From above, the island looks like an ordinary running track. Running the 1.5-km course at a leisurely pace is enough to look around the island, especially for those not good at running.
''You can see the Hangang at any spot on the island, and the advantage of Nodeul Island is that it was recently opened so few people run here,'' An said.
''Running at night is also great because of the lovely night view.''
One side of the island features a dense forest of large trees, and the grass and wildflowers create a slightly wilder side of nature than usually seen at other riverside parks in the capital.
Jogging was not as difficult as expected as the Korea.net staff member occasionally stopped to take photos.
Parking is prohibited on the island, but is available at the parking lot of Ichon Hangang Park, after which one can walk toward Hangang Bridge.
Haneul (Sky) Park was the next destination. Created by transforming the waste disposal site Nanjido into an eco-park, this popular site serves as a spot to enjoy nature inside the city. Its attractions include a silver grass field and an observatory, but Metasequoia Road is the best place to run here.
Looking at the dense rows of metasequoia trees standing tall on both sides of the path, seeing the green leaves and the faraway sky is a highly soothing experience.
An said, "Regardless of weather, this is a beautiful space to run while surrounded by green trees," adding, "It’s a great place in any season."
When running there, a breeze brought a clean and fresh scent from the trees, and a sense of fluffy soil was felt. This led to a feeling of being energized rather than exhausted while running anywhere at this green place.
Running on Metasequoia Road entails a light 1.2-km roundtrip. Many marathons are held there thanks to its beautiful scenery and gentle slope, and it attracts many bicyclers. For those who consider 1.2 km too short, the park offers 5- and 10-km courses.
Necessities before going on a run are a pair of running shoes of the proper size, clothes with good ventilation, and a bottle of water. Stretching to warm up before running is another must. After your mind and body are ready, tie your shoelaces to see the real Seoul on foot.
1. Nodeul Island (노들섬)
- Address: 445 Yangnyeong-no, Yongsan-gu District, Seoul 04427
- Open hours: 09:00~21:30
ㆍSubway: Get off at Exit #2 of Nodeul Station (Line 9) → walk 600 m toward Hangang Bridge
ㆍBus: (blue) #150, 151, 152, 500, 501, 504, 506, 507, 605, 750A, 750B, 751, 752; (green) 6211 → get off at Nodeul Island Station
2. Haneul Park (하늘공원)
- Address: 95, Haneulgongwon-ro, Mapo-gu District, Seoul 03900
- Open hours: 5:00 to 22:00 (depending on month)
ㆍSubway: Get off at Exit #1 of World Cup Stadium Station (Line 6) → walk 14 minutes toward Haneul Park
ㆍBuses: (blue) 271; (green), 6715, 7011, 7019, 7715, 8777; Mapo 08 (shuttle) → Get off at World Cup Stadium, Mapo Oil Tank Culture Park
For more information: www.korea.net