Considering it is the biggest city in the developed world, with half of the country’s population dwelling here, Seoul has ample opportunity to escape the urban hustle. Parks and mountains are a welcome relief, but by far the most fun is to take rent a cruiser bike and ride along the Hangang river, which runs through the center of the city.
Much like City Hall plaza, during the warmer months, the Han is guaranteed to have an event or five along it’s banks, or in nearby Yeouido park, which has bikes for rent.
Peddling along the Han opens up a whole new subculture within the city – the biking enthusiast. I’ve enjoyed the casual tandem/cruiser outings but have observed the locals’ lycra-clad dedication and can see how it can become a lifestyle choice for the weekends.
Much like the multicolored hiking troupes that dominate Korea’s mountains, the elder generation pull out all the stops when it comes to acquiring the right gear for their chosen outdoor pursuits. They are as devoted to their hobbies as much as their post-work drinking, and it’s not a rare occasion to see a bottle of soju or makgeolli being shared between rest stops.
The most bizarre entertainment i encountered this summer was ‘Hangang Style’, a tapered off event that was seemingly aimed at luring foreigners in, making them sign up to a vague charity cause, and getting them to dance for the locals.
The cause at this event was for the relief of victims of a typoon which was famous among the expat circles for being a massive disappointment. Very little damage was actually caused, but the chairty organisation here was very suspect at the time. It has since been reported that ‘Mannam’, as they are called, is actually a front for one of Korea’s 200-odd minor religious cults, that are either trying to recruit foreigners, or using foreigners as a marketing tool. This particular cult is known to be called ‘Shinchongji’. Whatever they are aiming for, they seem to have successfully made fools of foreigners to a bemused Korean crowd, if this ‘Disco Party’ was anything to go by.
We didn’t stay there for long, however, it did make good footage for a video i made that day.
If you want some fresh air, live music, or just fancy joining a cult, you’ll never be solo on the Han.