Originally founded as a new urban area to alleviate the growing overpopulation problem in Seoul, the city of Ilsan has become a popular destination for visitors domestic or from abroad. The township is part of Goyang-si at the western end of Gyeonggi-do, and is the closest of all of Seoul’s suburbs. The city is quite easily accessible through the use of public transportation, including the Seoul Metro (Line 3), the Gyeongui Line, and of course by bus (No. 1200, 1000, or 2000). All routes take less than
an hour to arrive. Ilsan is therefore an ideal travel destination for a day trip if you’re looking into a more authentic time outside of Seoul. In case you’re traveling from Busan, Deagu, or other southern parts of Korea, hop on a train and get off at Haengsin Station for access to Ilsan. KTX trains also make stops there.
On the top of your list of places to visit in Ilsan should be Lake Park. Located in Janghang-dong, Ilsandong-gu, the park houses a large man-made lake 300,000 square meters in size. There is also a promenade stretching over 8.3 kilometers around the lake, giving visitors all the more reason to check it out.
Goyang-si first started designing the park in 1992, however during the first few years after the project’s launch, the local government wasn’t able to produce its intended results. Fortunately, over 20 years of time has given the park beautiful trees and foliage adding to the atmosphere at the center of the city, where citizens come to rest and cool off in the shade during the summer. Cyclists also favor the park for its scenic paved path that meanders through the park, and bike rentals are also available onsite to enjoy the 4.7 kilometers of stunning view. The park’s attractiveness also comes from the many shopping and restaurant districts nearby, so visitors won’t have to travel far to satisfy their appetites.
One of the major attractions within the park, the Music Fountain, draws in many crowds during the
summer, as it features a choreographed water and light show several times a day. The nighttime show is more spectacular to watch, as the colors contrast against the coal-black night sky. The space is also used for hosting various community events and cultural festivals, such as the widely known Goyang International Flower Show held at the end of April to mid-May every year.
Located right behind the fountain is ‘One Mount’, a leisure facility that combines water and snow activities for a lot of family fun. Being equipped with both indoor and outdoor facilities, One Mount operates both as a water park in the summer as well as a snow park in the winter.
Goyang-si, often referred to as ‘the city of flowers,’ is known for creating many green areas within the city. The city has been growing as an authority in urban gardening and planning by promoting this slogan through organized events like the Goyang International Flower Show. Evidence of its growing reputation can be found every step of the way through the city. With fields of flowers and well-maintained parks beside residential areas, the city itself feels like a big floriculture complex. This is particularly prominent along a footpath connecting Baengma Station (Gyeongui Line) to Ilsan Lake Park Station via Madu Park and Madu Station (Seoul Subway Line 3). Try visiting here during the season of fall foliage, when sidewalks on both sides of the street are covered with a beautiful yellow, orange, and red autumn blanket.
While Dongdaemun and Myeong-dong in Seoul are highly popular among locals and international visitors for shopping at decent prices, Ilsan’s mega shopping complex ‘Western Dom’ is lesser known but has the same advantages. As Ilsan is ranked as the 10th largest city in Korea with a population over 1 million, the city’s shopping needs triggered the construction of this giant mall, which now showcases various consumer goods at affordable prices, and serves greater numbers of visitors coming from outside the city.
Unlike Dongdaemun or Myeong-dong, in addition to all the shopping available, Western Dom also has cultural exhibits and puts on a number of street performances and concerts. If these still haven’t enticed you enough to go, perhaps the broadcasting station MBC will. The headquarters of the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), which produces many hallyu-related programs and variety shows, is located just a walking distance from both Lake Park and Western Dom. One of their popular TV programs, a variety show called ‘Infinite Challenge (무한도전),’ was filmed here at the Western Dom, and countless K-dramas (Korean dramatic TV shows) set their backdrops near Lake Park. So you just might get lucky and see your favorite K-stars filming while you’re out shopping!
Even if you don’t get the chance to see K-stars on set, you still have the chance to take selfies with replicas of celebrities and cast members of ‘Dream High (드림하이)’ around the city. In collaboration with the show’s producers, the city of Goyang established a number of set locations for Dream High within the city. Many of Ilsan’s popular sites, like KINTEX, Aramnuri Culture Center, Lake Park, Western Dom and Lafesta, are featured in many of its episodes, making Ilsan a memorable experience for hallyu fans.
Visit Korea Journalist
Article and photos courtesy of Yu Hyesoo (email@example.com)