Seoul - 6.3 Culture of Recreation and Past Time
|Understanding Korea Series No.4|
|← Previous||Seoul||Next →|
|2) Diverse Cultural Areas and Streets||3) Culture of Recreation and Past Time||4) Consumer Culture of the Subway Station Vicinity Areas|
Korea’s traditional recreational culture basically involves going to places with beautiful landscape and enjoying the mountain and water and having sort of a picnic. During the Joseon Dynasty each class had their own method of recreation according to the Confucian Philosophy. The nobles did not hold any particular jobs; they devoted themselves to academic endeavors and self-cultivation. They usually passed their time engaging in static activities that were academic such as writing poetries and practicing calligraphies in a place with scenic beauty. They sometimes built pavilions and contemplated while savoring the nature.
The middle class professionals including the official interpreters, doctors, accountants, and artists were able to accumulate wealth toward the end of Joseon and formed their own Yeohang Culture. ‘Communing with the nature’ and singing about the nature and life were no longer the exclusi ve rights of the nobles. Hundreds of middle class intellectuals participated in Baekjeon (poetry contest) and boasted their intellectual abilities and refined taste beyond their social position. Samcheong-dong, Suseong-dong, Ssanggye-dong, Baekwun-dong and Cheonghak-dong were popular picnic spots within Hanyang city limit at the time. The Sibeom Apartment Complex that was built in the Suseong-dong Valley was demolished recently, and the past beauty of Suseong-dong Valley has been recreated to restore the breathtaking natural landscape of the Inwang Mountain.
People of Joseon visited mountains and valleys with beautiful sceneries and enjoyed having a picnic. Many visited the Four Inner Mountains, Bukhan Mountain and Dobong Mountain located near the Seoul castle walls. Many pavilions were built in Bukak Mountain and Inwang Mountain Valley in the north near the residential area of the nobles. There were many Buddhist temples in Bukhan Mountain and Dobong Mountain and people enjoyed having a picnic after visiting the temple. Wui Mountain Valley was used for women’s recreation activities. Without doubt the 8 views from Namsan Mountain were unrivaled, and the mountain is relatively easy to climb, making it a much loved spot for relaxation. Trees were built on the shores of Han River with great views and the citizens and nobles read books and relaxed there.
The mountains and valleys around Seoul that were traditionally used as picnic spots are now preserved in the form of urban parks. Western style urban parks are usually flat relaxing place with trails like the Central Park or the Hyde Park. The parks of Seoul mostly take form on hills or mountains. The flatlands and lowlands were mostly developed as city streets while the foothills of the Four Inner Mountains of Namsan, Naksan and Bukaksan and the Four Outer Mountains of Bukhansan, Gwanaksan and Achasan are designated as park areas. The Four Outer Mountains of Bukhansan and Gwanaksan are full of hikers on the weekends, and Namsan and Naksan, the parks situated in the city, are used as everyday relaxation spots by Seoul residents.