A Visit to Poet’s Hill

Park, Jeonghun

There are many places where you can enjoy Seoul’s skyline. Most notably, the N Seoul Tower is famous among tourists in spite of the expensive admission to enter the tower. But there is a place where foreigners and even Koreans do not know very well; which is the Poet Yun’s Hill(윤동주 시인의 언덕). The location of Poet’s Hill is 119 Changuimun-ro, Cheongun-dong, Jongno-gu. It is accessible by bus or taxi only because it is in the mountains. Take the bus #7212 and #7016 and get off at ‘Jahamun Pass’. It is accessible by a small road across the street. The bus can sometimes be very crowded because of residents living near the village. So, avoid late afternoon and rush hour to ease your visit. Moreover, some buses might speed up, almost skipping stations if there are no passengers, so you have to listen for the next station or keep an eye on the screen in the bus. However, visiting the site with a Korean friend is probably the best way to prevent you from being stranded in a remote town.

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In front of the hill there is a small box shaped building. That box used to be a water tank to give sufficient pressure for faucets down the hill and would act as a water tower for the houses down the hill. However, it is now being used as a memorial for poet Yun Dong-ju, who was famous for his lyric poetry during the Japanese colonization period. The memorial may look a little too small to be called a memorial, but it is used to remember the famous poet. Inside the building, there are copies of poems written by the poet and his achievements during his life. Even though very little space is allocated for praising him, his significance in Korean literature should not be understated.

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Some might think that there is nothing special with the hill itself. But there is a tragic Korean history behind it. Right next to the bus stop, there is a statue of a policeman. He is chief Choi Gyu Sik, who oversaw the Jongno Police department. He was dispatched on 1/21/1968 when he tried to stop armed militia sent by North Korea to infiltrate the Blue House and eventually tried to assassinate Park Jeong Hui, the president during that time. When the militia was trying to cross the checkpoint near the Jahamun pass, they were compromised by the police, a shootout happened between police and the commandos. During the shootout and the search for insurgents he was killed in action. To commemorate him, a statue was built. Behind the statue, among the rocks in the mountains, there are trees with bullet holes still intact; the trace of Korean contemporary history.

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The hill is not that steep to climb. The climb is less than the hill between the business school and the library. If you climb up the hill in a sunny day with no clouds, you can see downtown Seoul spread wide under your feet. Well, you can enjoy Seoul’s skyline in a better fashion by visiting the N Seoul Tower and paying the admission fee. However, you can enjoy the subtleness of Seoul’s buildings at the top of the hill for free. When you climb up the N Seoul Tower you are viewing the city at a top of a mountain. You are looking down at the city. On the other hand, at the top of this hill, the city is at your waist level. You can view the skyline at a glance. When the weather is clear, viewers can see Seoul with detail. When I visited there, even tough, the weather was not perfect, I could get a decent picture presented down below.

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In conclusion, the Poet’s Hill is wonderful place for viewing the skyline of Seoul. When you visit there, take your time to truly enjoy the atmosphere of the place that has bright view of Seoul, with dark contemporary history of the hill.

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