It was perfect outside on Sunday, so I decided to visit Mount Bugaksan, a peak in the very northern part of Seoul. The mountain is located along the Seoul City Wall trail, a hike that encompasses some of the more important historical sites in Seoul.
Technically the wall is a military zone, and I had to “apply” to enter the area (it was just one little form, but if you’re thinking about visiting, remember to bring your ID card or passport, otherwise you won’t be allowed to enter!) Throughout the hike there were warnings prohibiting hikers from taking pictures from certain vantage points, but I still managed to get some beautiful shots of the city and the surrounding mountains.
I thought all of the warnings were a bit frivolous until I came upon the 1.21 Incident Pine Tree. On January 21, 1968, a group of North Korean commandos crossed into South Korea, intending to attack the Blue House (the President’s house). They were stopped by the South Korean military here, and the tree still bears marks of the gunfight. So, now I get it.
There were also jangseung (장승) guarding the trail from evil spirits. These totem poles can be found all over Korea. In the olden days they stood guard at the entrance to every village, welcoming friendly travelers and protecting the villagers from famines and natural disasters. Unfortunately, now many have been destroyed or removed.