Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Seoul Olympic Park

Citius - Altius - Fortius
Faster - Higher - Stronger

That's the Olympic motto and great words to motivate you when you're pushing for a goal. One of our goals is to try to see as much of South Korea as possible while we're here, so we took advantage of the first above 50 degree Saturday to visit Seoul Olympic Park. This was the site of the 1988 Summer Olympics and it is still a busy area today. The city definitely uses the park to full advantage for outdoor recreation, as well as sporting and cultural events. We actually attended an event here last fall (the R16 World Finals) and knew we would have to come back to explore.

Coming out of Mongchontoseong Subway Station, Exit 1, we were greeted by the gigantic World Peace Gate. It truly was impressive and a fitting marker for the area. 

The plaza was lined with double faced pillars, such as this:

Beneath the gate lies the olympic flame - still burning today.

The park is quite large, with hiking trails, museums, arenas, lakes, and a sculpture garden.

Here's the end of the entrance plaza, with flags from each country that participated in 1988.

We took a quick break to let our little guy play (because you can not pass a playground without testing out the slides).

And the exercise equipment...

Next up was the Seoul Olympic Museum, as we had a feeling there would be some pretty neat things to see inside.

First we had to see the cool handprints and footprints from the athletes on the outside walkway, though!

And pause for a photo with the official mascots:

               Hosuni                                                                                               Hodori

This museum is wonderful - a great mix of olympic memorabilia and information about the games. There are pieces from the 1988 games, as well as Olympic sites all over the world.

a collection of mascots from various Olympics

Olympic torches from many different games

commemorative coins from 1988

The Olympic torch from 1988 Seoul Olympics

History of the Olympics

"Mommy, we're blue!"

Pin collectors, eat your hearts out:

Memorabilia from each of the sporting events held in 1988:

A model of the stadiums:

Event attendance lottery tickets:

Commemorative items sold during the games:

After our tour of the museum, we opted to stop for some lunch at a restaurant in the plaza - Season's Table - and it ended up being a healthy Korean buffet that featured fresh seasonal dishes.

We did not stop in at the Dalki kid's building (we wanted to walk!) but did stop for a photo op...

...and another 5 minutes at a park...

Then we found "The Thumb" - yes, a giant homage to the thumb.

The Seoul Olympics Museum of Art (SOMA) is on the grounds and is surrounded by a HUGE sculpture garden. Huge, as is in a large space AND giant pieces of art.  Here are just a few of them:

french horn?


"Man on a Horse"

"Collision" - a Canadian's depiction of the Algonquin tribe colliding with modern technology

"Extra Terrestrials"



A section of trees were lovingly wrapped in crocheted tree cozies:

The locals were out in full force for some badminton:

We found a portion of the Mongchon Fortress wall hike and decided to explore. This area was studied and excavated prior to its transformation for the Olympics. Many relics were found from the Baekje Era (which predates the Joseon Era), such as pottery, coffins, and houses. The Mongchon Fortress grounds were re-established with walls, fences, and a moat.

We stopped for a muddy tromp through a hedge maze...

Made it!

Admired the stadium view:

And explored the Dugout Hut Site:

What it may have looked like during the Baekje period:

Reproduction of a wooden fortress wall:

We hiked a bit more and then headed towards the exit of the park, through the stadium area.  A few K-Pop events were being held that evening and when we turned the corner, we hit a wall of teenage girls in black coats who were lined up five hours before the event. Then they started running...oh, lordy!

We made our way carefully through the mayhem and enjoyed our ride home on the subway.

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