Cities and the central nervous system share a number of common elements: both have neighbourhoods, streets, and even 8-lane highways. The brain and spinal cord use a network of pathways to send neurotransmitters and relay signals to perform bodily tasks and functions.
Yeouido [여의도/汝矣島: you, (your), island] is the thick of where things happen in South Korea. As the centre of politics and the economy, it is the nation’s brain.
Yeouido has been referred as the “Wall Street” of South Korea; many of its financial institutions headquartered here. Withal major broadcasting networks like KBS and MBC are located on the island.
Camera crews often film b-rolls of people enjoying an afternoon picnic or playing catch in Hangang Park. There’s a chance that footage of you will air on the evening news should you go biking along the River Han.
The 8.4 square kilometre island is also home to the National Assembly, where the nation’s politicians gather to debate and vote on the country’s priorities. Fierce emotions often erupt within the walls of the building; a byword of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
On 22 November 2011, the decision to ratify the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) was nearly brought to a halt. The ruling Grand National Party (since renamed Liberty Korea Party) were met with jeers and insults from opposition members, who physically tried to prevent voting from taking place.
The Democratic Party’s Kim Sun-dong staged a personal protest when he set off a teargas inside the assembly, claiming the FTA would harm South Korean interests.
“Let me go, bastards. No FTA,” Kim truculently bemoans whilst security escorts him away.
Fortunately, not everything is doom and gloom in Yeouido. Hangang Park offers ample green space and scenic vistas of the River Han and the Seoul skyline. Spring is especially popular in Yeouido Park, where cherry blossom trees attract scores of photographers and ambulatory enthusiasts.
Exploring Yeouido to the fullest is not ideal on foot. Cycling on the other hand, can cover much more distance to sightsee the island’s elaborate details. Unfortunately, I do not have first-hand experience to indite.
Since 2011, South Korea has built a network of grade-separated bike lanes across the country spanning nearly 2000km. The spine is a 600km trail from Incheon to Busan. Information in English is sparse however. And Korea’s official tourism website did not even capture the top result on Google for cycling-related searches.
The 4 Rivers Trail (4대강/四大江) receives little fanfare and advertising and marketing remains idle. South Korea falls under the radar as a destination for bike tourism, and that will only result in missed opportunities. I reckon visiting in the fall is best.
Categories: KOREA-CANADA BLOG 2018