24 September 2008


Today was spent at Everland Resort, South Korea's largest theme park, located in the city of Yongin, about 50 minutes southeast of Seoul. Everland is operated by Samsung Everland, a subsidiary of the Samsung neoliberal empire; it first opened in 1976 as a rather plain amusement park known as Yongin Nature Farm, before gaining its Disneyland-style theming (and the Everland name) in the 1990s. Its mix of animals and rides makes it a close approximation of Busch Gardens in eastern US.

I have 35 (!) photos to show for my troubles today. This doesn't include photos from a nearby car museum, which will be a separate post.

I took a bus that traveled on Expressway 1, which connects Seoul to Busan, and is part of Asian Highway 1, which travels from Tokyo to Europe through Busan, Seoul, Pyongyang, Beijing, and Southeast Asia.

Right now, the bus is passing through a designated green belt that surrounds Seoul at its city limits. Once outside Seoul city limits, however, newly developed suburbs line the highways all the way to Everland.

Nearing Everland, and exiting the expressway. The toll plaza shows Everland markings.

I have just entered Everland. The park is decorated with Halloween theming, as part of a Halloween promotion running from September 5th to November 2nd. Halloween is becoming increasingly popular in South Korea, despite Christian objections.

Admission was 35,000 won (USD $35) for a ticket enabling use of all attractions, and 28,000 won (USD $28) for a general admission ticket that included shows, but not rides. I bought a general admission ticket, and my only ride today was the safari, which was free.

A band plays to welcome visitors. Some of the players are Westerners.

There is a cinema in here. I can watch Mamma Mia! - The Movie, which opened in South Korea a few weeks ago.

A squirrel monkey is the first of many primates that line the Primate Boardwalk, which leads downhill from the entrance to a themed land called Zootopia.

In the same cage: ring-tailed lemurs.

A parrot greets me in a bird-themed area at the end of the Primate Boardwalk. There are no cages or other restraints here, whatsoever, which I thought was odd; nevertheless, the birds here won't fly away.

A flamingo display. Few are standing still - a few are running around.

This hill mynah is capable of speaking a dozen Korean words, as evidenced by the sign to the right.

A very rare find: white tigers. Quite a few here at Everland.

These polar bears have a green tint, due to the moss in the water pool growing on their fur.

The mythical golden monkeys, only recently discovered in China, and given to Everland by China.

A familiar sight: prairie dogs. I saw these in the wild back in 2000, near Devils Tower in Wyoming.

End of Zootopia, and entering European-themed area. Here is South Korea's first wooden roller coaster, and its slopes are quite severe. Looks pretty exciting.

Yongin Nature Farm's claim to fame was its lion safari, the only one of its kind in South Korea. Now, Everland's safari also has tigers, bears, and other animals; it is the only place in the world where lions and tigers share a common space. Here, a lion rests with his harem of several lionesses.

The safari's vegetarian residents are seen here. There are some zebras and the lone elephant.

Some more vegetarians: giraffes.

White lions. These are even rarer than white tigers! I've never seen these before.

The bears are housed in a separate area from other animals. Here, the bus driver is commanding the bear to perform tricks, in return for some snacks.

As seen here, this bus - and Everland as a whole - were overrun with kindergarteners on field trips. This being a weekday in the middle of the school year, the park was otherwise not too crowded; a large number of foreigner families were also evident here.

A sea lion show is in progress; here, the sea lion is demonstrating its singing skills. The stage is themed like a Spanish village where a pirate is about to invade.

Another animal show, with many different species involved, and Peter Pan-themed. Here, Captain Cook is commanding a parrot to steal a spectator's 10,000-won banknote.

Championship Rodeo is a ride located in the American-themed section of the park. This small, dead-end area looks a lot like the 19th Century American West. At this ride, spinning cars simulate the sensation of being a rodeo cowboy.

Aesop's Fables are well-known and well-read to children in South Korea. A garden with children's rides was themed after the fables. I found this edition of Aesop's Fables, printed in London in 1694, at a gift shop near the garden; several other copies of Aesop's Fables, from different eras and in different languages, were also on display.

Global Village is a knock-off of Disneyland's (and Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom's) It's a Small World. I decided not to go in, as I took the Magic Kingdom version earlier this year.

This rose garden dates from the Yongin Nature Farm era. The lodging in the background is a recent addition, however.

Everland is comparable in size to Disneyland, but unlike the Disney parks which tend to be built on flat terrain, the topography here is very hilly, and walking around can be tiring.

Holland Village, which is loosely based on the architecture of the Dutch village of Alkmaar. The buildings here house restrooms and restaurants, though the restaurants don't serve Dutch food; one restaurant was actually offering an Oktoberfest special, in fact.

Another look at Holland Village, which has a garden in the middle circled by a train (not pictured). Being here reminded me of my 1999 visit to Madurodam, a miniature village located in The Hague that showcases various features and buildings of the Netherlands.

Speaking of Madurodam, it has a Korean connection; its international airport is served by Korean Air.

A pay phone.
In South Korea, like in most other countries but unlike in the US, a phone card is required for most telephones. The red button in the middle is for emergency calls - 112 (police), 119 (fire), 113 (reporting spies). The green button on the right is to start another call at the end of the first call.

Old and new. The ferris wheel is an original Yongin Nature Farm ride, while the Roman statue on the right is part of Everland theming.

Another themed area: Alpine Village. There are petting zoos, pony rides, and camel rides around here as well.

After 4 hours, time to move on to the car museum. A sign at the exit indicates that after the Halloween decorations are taken down, Christmas ones will go up, starting November 7th, kicking off the Christmas Holiday Fantasy.

City buses in the bus lot, as I await my bus back to Seoul. These buses carry the "G-Bus" decals, since they belong to Gyeonggi Province, the administrative region that surrounds, but does not include, the cities of Seoul and Incheon. Green buses are standard city buses, while red ones are deluxe models with guaranteed seating (some of which run to Seoul). The T-Money smart debit card, which is used for Seoul's mass transit, can be used on these buses as well.

Back to Seoul. Here is a streetside vendor selling "hand-made" women's shoes for low prices: 10,000 won (USD $10) or 15,000 won (USD $15). These can be surprisingly good - and even if they aren't, the low prices make them a risk worth taking.

Many Seoul subway stations include underground shopping malls, as seen here. This particular store sells women's legwear (all called "stockings" in South Korea, though as seen here, they include tights, pantyhose, the extremely popular stirrup tights, and leggings). Again, like the shoes in the previous photo, legwear is very affordable in Seoul - and of very high quality as well. In fact, I've bought great Korean-made legwear back in the US, at US based vendors, though at inflated American prices.

Coming up next: car museum pictures.