We have wanted to visit Yongma Land ever since I found out about it for our Korean Halloween post. I don’t know what it is about abandoned theme parks that draws me in, but I can’t help becoming fascinated by spaces that are run-down and overgrown. If you’re interested in spending a great afternoon or evening wandering around Yongma Land and taking your next Facebook profile picture, here’s everything you need to know.
What happened to Yongma Land?
From what I can glean from the ever accurate internet, Yongma Land first opened in 1980, and was geared towards family friendly fun. Unfortunately, with the 1989 opening of Lotte World, a much bigger and fancier amusement park, Yongma Land struggled to survive and eventually closed shop in 2011. There’s no unhappy ending to the story, though, as the resourceful owner has managed to make a decent living by renting the fashionably dilapidated park out for Kpop videos, Kdrama filming, and a steady flow of wedding photo-shoots.
What should you expect at Yongma Land?
If you’ve been dreaming of wandering through the vast remains of a theme park completely alone and undisturbed, you’re going to be horribly disappointed by Yongma Land. The park is pretty small, taking only a few minutes to walk around the whole thing. You’ll also never be alone as, like I mentioned before, it’s a pretty popular place for all kinds of photo-shoots and budding Instagrammers.
That being said, it is definitely worth a few hours of your time. The photos that you can get at the park are pretty fantastic, you just need to be prepared to wait your turn (or assertively take up the space you want, as people aren’t great at waiting patiently here!). Even though the park is small, there are plenty of great photo spots, and we ended up spending almost 5 hours in total, including a short time when we waited for the lights to come on in the evening.
My best advice: keep your expectations low, and you’ll have a great time finding unusual spots to get your pics and videos.
Yongma Land Pro Tips
Entry is 20 000 won per person, payable in cash to the caretaker. There is a small shop where you can buy something to drink, and you can also rent a few props if you want something to make your photos pop. When we were there we saw helium-filled balloons, and a variety of flower crowns, but it probably depends on the day as to what is available. I would suggest taking a few props with you so that you know what you’re working with. We were super lucky to pick up a red umbrella that some people had left behind, and it really added to our sunset photos. I would totally suggest bringing a bright umbrella along!
There are toilets on site where you can change, so maybe take a few outfit changes if you’re super into the Instagram vibe. I was feeling the jetlag when we visited so I didn’t end up changing outfits, but I think it would have looked really cool! If you’re staying into the evening just be aware of the weather and pack something warm as the temperature can really drop once the sun goes down and there’s not much place to get warm.
Yongma Land closes at 7pm, and the owner does put the lights on sometime after sunset. We waited specifically to catch the lights, and although they weren’t super impressive, it did give a really different feel to the park. Maybe if you took along your own battery operated fairy lights or a torch, you could get some more impressive shots. But in general, I think that the best time to go would be around sunset, as the light hits the park really beautifully.
Think about what season you’d like to visit the park, as it really does change the whole vibe of your shoot. We visited just before spring, and I really like the stark browns of the surrounding vegetation against the bright colours of the rides. I do think that visiting in the snow would be spectacular, and of course, Korean autumn will give you a heck of a show as well. I would avoid the park in the middle of summer, as although it would be pretty and green, there isn’t a lot of shade and you’d be stuck in the sun for most of the time.
Bring some snacks if you think you’ll be there a while, the owner gave us Haribo candies, but that’s about all the food that is on offer. Vending machine drinks are available, so take some small change if you’re keen to keep hydrated.
If you’re like me and struggle to push your way to the front of a queue then think about taking a friend that can stand up for you. Without Chris I think I would still be waiting for my turn to take photos at the more popular sites like the merry-go-round! People in general at Yongma Land were pretty absorbed by their own photo-shoots and didn’t really seem to care who had been waiting patiently to be next at each spot, so don’t be afraid to just push through and get in people’s shots if they are being rude. This was the part of the experience I disliked the most, so prepare yourself if you’re a softie like me!
How to get there
Getting to Yongma Land is super simple if you’re in Seoul, making it a conveniently close location for something that seems so dilapidated and abandoned. The closest subway station is Mangu on the Jungnang/Gyeongchun Line. Take exit 1, and from there it is about a 15 minute walk to the park. Click through on the pin below to get the exact location of the park.
118 Mangu-ro 70-gil, Mangu-dong, Jungnang-gu, Seoul
서울 중랑구 망우로70길 118
(망우동 산 69-1)
Opening times seem to vary by season:
January: 9am to 6pm
February to May: 9am to 7pm
June to September: 9am to 8pm
October: 9am to 7pm
November to December: 9am to 6pm
Check out Yongma Land’s Naver blog page here for specific details on when the park is open, just be sure to use Chrome so that it will translate the page for you. You can also check out their facebook page here.
Yongma Land is a tiny gem in Seoul, and one of my top things to do in Korea. If you’ve got a spare afternoon, definitely grab some friends and head on over with your camera or your GoPro. If you like abandoned spaces or the stranger travel sites, check out our posts on dark tourism, and the odd things we got up to in Bali. Happy snapping!
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