On a brisk Sunday morning I set out to explore an abandoned amusement park I’d been meaning to visit for months. Yongma-land, which closed down recently, is situated on the eastern mountainside of Seoul, near Mangu Station on the Jungang line.
Amid a small neighbourhood, the dilapidated funfair’s large, castle-shaped gates rise at the top of a hill. A sign with a telephone number to reach the park’s owner, Mr. Youn, who charges an access fee of 5,000 won per person, is tacked onto the entrance.
Just inside is a stagnant, half-frozen pond, where carelessly discarded plastic figurines poke through the ice. Fish swim about sluggishly, stubbornly fighting against the cold.
Sitting prominently in the square is the park’s centrepiece, a golden carousel. Its horses look terrified, as if sprinting from a long forgotten horror.
Some rides are operable, while others have been eclipsed by rust and overgrowth, already reclaimed by nature.
A collection of rides are perched precariously on top of a small building, which would seem incredibly dangerous if the park was still running.
A plethora of coin-operated rides sit across Yongma-land, with themes spanning from pigs and U.S. Army cars to Santa Claus and the smurfs. If you visit the park you might recognize one ride in particular from the Crayon Pop viral music video “Bar Bar Bar,” which was filmed at Yongma-land.
Disassembled rides are scattered across the park; piles of bumper cars, broken figurines and stacked metal frames.
After wandering around the park for several hours I left, but not before hearing that Mr. Youn will turn on the lights for an extra fee. I’ll be back when the weather gets warmer.
By Sarah DeRemer