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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrFreedom Park, or Jayu Park, has had the name since 1957 at the end of the Korean War when a statue of General MacArthur was erected near the peak of Mt. Eungbongsang. Interestingly, Freedom Park was first created by a community of foreigners in Korea.
Near the park entrance is Sanguo Zhi Road, a path lined with murals retelling the stories of the Three Kingdoms. The area is popular with tourists and visitors but in the early afternoon it’s usually filled with students from the local Ethnic Chinese School.
Just down from the hill are the remnants of the foreign settlements which used to populate the area. To the east of Chinatown, the old Japanese settlement is still present. The buildings have all gone on to be re-purposed in some form or another, but the stylized modern architecture is impossible to miss. The brickwork and oriental gothic design is almost awkwardly pre-colonial era.
A Turning Point in Korean HistoryIn 1950, after North Korea crossed into South Korean territory, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution to allow the UN to assist South Korean Forces. Given the task of assigning a commander to the UN troops, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended General Douglas MacArthur who had previously proven himself in World War I and World War II.
Even with the help of American soldiers, ROK (Republic of Korea; South Korea) forces lost Seoul and were being pushed rapidly southward. A combination of KPA (Korea People’s Army; North Korea) and Chinese forces had pushed the majority of South Korean forces to the southeast corner of the country.
In September of 1950, an amphibious assault force landed in Incheon and cut the line of North Korean forces. A combined force of US and ROK forces broke through North Korean forces in Incheon and threatened to completely cut off supply lines to North Korean soldiers. On September 25th, Seoul was recaptured by South Korean forces and KPA forces were falling apart in the south.
That point is considered the turning point in the Korean War. Cities were bombed and pieces of history were lost to fire and ash, but to many MacArthur’s landing in Incheon prevented North Korean forces from advancing further south and gave South Korean forces a launching point into North Korea.
A View From On HighFreedom Park is worn on Mt. Eungbongsan like a cap. Visitors wanting to reach the park will have to make their way up from the bay or through Chinatown or up from the bay. Most visitors go through Chinatown but, for the most part, the longer paths offer more sights.
Interesting, the park doesn’t sport the same abundance of sporting facilities or exercise equipment. The soccer field and tracks are all lower down the mountain while the peak houses gardens, walking paths, and the ever popular memorial to General MacArthur.
The second most popular attraction at Freedom Park is likely to be the view. Anyone making the trek is bound to be impressed by views of Incheon city but most flock to the railings and admire the sight of the bay. All day long, ships of immeasurable size and shape pull in and out of the bay while cars snake through the streets below.
In the spring, the cherry blossoms open in full bloom only to have their petals carried by the mountain winds. The paths through the park are lined with cherry blossoms while the surrounding areas are equally as beautiful. Although it is not nearly as popular as other areas, Freedom Park is worth the trip even if it lies outside of the popular streets of Seoul.
The summer and fall, likewise, have cultural events which cause much celebration with bells and performances to entertain the crowds of visitors who make their way up the gentle slopes of Mt. Eungbongsan. Less favorable and infinitely less forgiving are the slopes in winter. The snow and ice turn the steep climb slippery and almost comical if it weren’t for the tumbling and the cold.
ChinatownFreedom Park is easy to get to from both Seoul and Incheon. The park can be accessed through Incheon Station on the No. 1 Line (dark blue line) through Exit No. 1. Outside the station, and immediately visible, is a large stone gate with a decidedly Chinese design. Known as Junghwamun Gate, the structure is one of three traditional pieces that was donated to Korea by Weihai city in China; this is the entry to Incheon’s famous Chinatown and also leads straight up to Freedom Park.
Anyone making the trek up to the park is sure to pass by a handful of restaurants, cafes and street food peddlers; to pass by these establishments without taking a few tastes would be a massive mistake. Incheon’s Chinatown is famous for serving up plates of authentic Chinese food and steaming plates of dumplings.
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Author: bludreamers. Last updated: Apr 04, 2016