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Yeouido Island is the Manhattan of Seoul

Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in ALL DESTINATIONS,Seoul, 8 Comments

Yeouido Island is the Manhattan of Seoul


Many Koreans will tell you that Yeouido island is the Manhattan of Seoul. If you visit, you’d see throngs of suited men and women walking briskly beneath the island’s business towers. Yeouido island (여의도) is home to not only Korea’s largest banks and financial services companies, but also to its major broadcasters and global behemoths like LG.


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At about 8.4 square kilometers, Yeouido island is by far Seoul’s largest island. But despite its strategic location in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities, the name “yeouido” actually means something along the lines of, “you can have it.” In the past, this now very valuable piece of real estate was thought to be worthless, since most of it disappeared whenever the Hangang river (한강) frequently flooded. As a result, for centuries Yeouido island was generally relegated to pastureland and peanut fields.

From Yeouido island (여의도)

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Perhaps Yeouido island is the Manhattan of Seoul now, but the first major development didn’t occur until 1924, when the Japanese colonial government built Seoul’s first airport. It also flooded, so it wasn’t until a bridge linked the island to the mainland in 1970 that development began in earnest.

From Yeouido island (여의도)

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Even during the global economic crisis big construction projects proceded. True to the island’s core identity, on September 1, 2012, the campus of the Seoul International Financial Center officially opened. The IFC is just one of four huge building projects either completed or underway in Yeouido’s “Mid-town.”

From Yeouido island (여의도)

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In addition to shiny skyscrapers, Yeouido island is home to quite a few other Seoul landmarks. For example, the Yoido Full Gospel Church is reportedly the world’s largest Christian congregation, with some 830,000 members, as of 2007. Furthermore, the island’s northern end is home to Seoul Marina (서울마리나)  and the country’s political palace, the National Assembly.

From Yeouido island (여의도)

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The southern tip is where the iconic curved pink glass tower, the 63 Building (육삼빌딩) , stands. Beyond its beauty (and the aquarium that’s inside), the iconic home of the Daehan Insurance Company was Asia’s tallest building when it was completed in 1985 (Today it’s #139).

From Yeouido island (여의도)

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On a greener note, Yeouido island is not only completely surrounded by parks – the Yeouido Hangang Riverside Park (여의도 한강공원) to the north and the Yeouido Saetgang Ecological Park (여의도 샛강생태공원) to the south – it is bisected by one of Seoul’s loveliest parks, aptly named Yeouido Park (여의도공원) .

From Yeouido island (여의도)

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While it’s always a good time to visit Yeouido island, Spring is the best season. For two weeks every year, the island hosts the Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival . Every year, over four million people visit the island to enjoy performing arts companies from Korea and abroad, and, of course, spring flower favorites like azaleas, forsythias and cherry blossoms. The latter is by far the biggest draw, so if you have the opportunity, walk along Yoonjung-ro (윤중로). The sidewalk is flanked on both sides by mature cherry trees, which creates a gorgeous 5.7-kilometer canopy of pale white blooms. It’s simply the best spot in Seoul to see cherry blossoms.

From Yeouido island (여의도)

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Not surprisingly, this eclectic mix of business, leisure and nature, the island also boasts a modest residential population of about 35,000. To see if you agree that Yeouido island is the Manhattan of Seoul, the completion of Seoul Metro’s subway line 9 in 2009 made visiting all the more convenient..
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8 Comments

12 September 2010 22:05

Discovering Korea – All Destinations

[...] Butterfly Festival [April 20, 2009] Cheongdo’s Bullfighting Festival [April 7, 2009] Seoul’s Yeouido Island [April 1, 2009] Jinhae’s Cherry Blossoms [March 24, 2009] Spring 2009 Flower Festivals [March [...]

4 November 2010 23:47

Discovering Korea – Cruising the Hangang

[...] sides of the river, and what I love about it is the diversity of the parks. For example, while the Yeouido and Banpo [video] parks feature broad lawns and winding, wide open trails, the Ichon section [...]

5 January 2012 18:51

Art

Hi again Matt

If we got the ferry to Yeouido, could we walk to Building 63 from the ferry terminal?

regards

Art

February 27 2012 20:27 pm

Matt

Hi Art,

It's walkable, but about 1.5~2 kilometers by my rough measure. Then again, you can do most of it from the beautiful vantage point of the Hangang Riverside Park.

Best,
Matt

24 March 2014 14:55

Sophia Lee

Hi Matt,

I saw your blog on Yeouido island and would like to visit the cherry blossoms festive there. My friend and I will be in Seoul from 12-19 Apr 2014. Our hotel is at Myeongdong. Do we still have a chance to see the cherry blossoms during this period. Also, how should we travel there from Myeongdong via public transport. I would appreciate it if you could kindly advise us accordingly. Many thanks!

Best regads,
Sophia

March 31 2014 14:01 pm

Matt

Hi Sophia,
Thanks for your note. I hate to say it, but you might be out of luck. Korea's spring weather this year is especially wacky... and by that I mean, where's the spring? It seems like the peninsula is going straight into summer, which means the flowers are all blooming earlier than usual. Who knows? You might get lucky. I'd just return to the blogs and cross your fingers!

Oh, and even if the cherries are done, Yeouido will still be a beautiful place to visit. To get there from Myeongdong, it's a little bit complicated via subway. From Myeongdong Station, take Line 4 two stops to Dongdaemun History and Culture Station. Switch to Line 5 and go 9 stops to Yeouinaru Station. Good luck!

Best, Matt

25 April 2014 11:11

Waqas ur Rahman

Hey Matt

I am a Phd. Scholar in one of the universities in Seoul and I will be here for 4 years. Its been 2 months since I am here in Seoul. I have been to places like Gangnum and Itewon but now I want to see the natural beauty and heritage of Korea. I would definitely love to visit Yeouido Island soon.

Kindly, Suggest me places in Seoul which I can visit when I get free time on weekends.

Thanks.

May 08 2014 08:07 am

Matt

Hello Dr. Rahman,
Thank you for your inquiry. It's hard for me to know what types of places you would like, so I suggest using the sort function on my blog to search for "Nature" and "Culture" destinations. You can click on these links to see those articles:

NATURE: http://discoveringkorea.com/category/destinations/nature/
HISTORIC: http://discoveringkorea.com/category/destinations/historic-korea/
SEOUL-specific: http://discoveringkorea.com/category/regions/seoul/

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