Yongma Land - Seoul(inc video)
I have been wishing and seeking to find a credible abandoned place for so many years. This is probably my second and I guess I should make a blog about my first thinking about it. However; this isn't the doomed and graffiti destroyed place that you may of seen images of or have in your mind when I say 'abandoned place'.
Typically finding this place starts with going to almost the middle of the nowhere and it was the main reason I decided to stay a bit more to the eastern side of Seoul. I had one more day left at the hostel on this side of the city so I had to get there.
I took the Subway from Dongdaemun 3 or 4 stops along to Cheongnyangni. From there I went 3 more stops to Sangbong subway Station. From here it was about a 25 minute walk. You could possible go to Mangu station and walk 10-15 mins but I like to walk the streets of new places and see whats happening in new neighbourhoods along the way. Following my directions on MAPS.ME app I found my self at the end of a road and the start of some woodland area with a simple sign pointing me in the right direction.
So this place isn't so much abandoned as I thought. I had read that Korean T.V dramas and K-pop videos had been filmed here and that you could possible pay to do photoshoots. Though I didn't realise how open to the general public it was, and it's totally open to anyone! When you arrive at the gates, the original ticket entrance is still there. Simply walk up and there's a motion sensor letting a lady know you are there. Out of the little office area appears the lady and you simply pay an entrance fee of 10,000 Korean won and you're in. The owners actually maintain the site, though the rides are not in use. They have arranged items and areas to accommodate for shoots and general public viewing, perfect for those who may have projects in mind and perfect for those who just want to take a selfie for their Instagram.
There are two specific areas of the site that seem off access unless you pay extra. These were quite clearly for wedding shots and more romantic settings. However; the amazing cherry blooms tree outside above the stairs is up for grabs to everybody. One area seems to have about 8 different backdrops/scenes. Complete with fairy lights, a convertible car, piano's and a fake grass wall. I would definitely love to have some photoshoot here and even bring partner for a date night. The other area is the mini spectacular castle, boasting 4 turrets and balconies with an overview of the city as a back drop. Inside there a a number of set up and an area what seemed to have a rail of wedding dresses and makeup area. On the balconies they also had a space with shooting with more some more fake grass and mood setting fairy lights.
There are general maintenance staff looking after the grounds and looking at previous images comparing with how it currently looks, you can see they try to rotate objects and areas to keep the interest. It works so very well! It wasn't too crowded but I was surprised how many people were there. Three photo groups and 10-20 tourist visitors i'd say in my four hours I spent there. But there was always something I could wonder off and investigate. Something I could photograph or even even people watch, so much so I am currently heading back out there today after I get off my laptop writing some of this because I don't feel I shot enough.
Straight away I wish I had a model or two, or even a photographer I could have modelled for. With a fresh new outlook on the art of not giving a fuck. I approached a small group of friends, dancers here form the Ukraine as it turned out. I spotted them taking selfies and photos of each other, I had nothing to loose so I asked if they would spare as few moments and let me take their photograph. They were super natural too and not over posey which was a delight as I hadn't planned anything. On the spot, spontaneous boom, let's do this. I will admit that not everything we suggested and tried worked but we got a couple of shots and new memories. Fortunately small props and objects can be found scattered over the place, maybe some from the park and maybe some from people who organise shoots and just end up leaving them there.
Seeing images of abandoned places or urban decay across the internet, there's a trend in the editing to sometimes make things look a lot more dark and gloomy. Understandably and I have even done the same. Yet editing these images just didn't feel like they needed that style so much. Maybe because it was still a happy places and rather than love lost it is still being giving a lot of love everyday. Having said that I would love to shoot a horror short here. Feel free to get in touch if you want to work on something like this with me.
It's a pretty clever idea as most abandoned theme parks get shut down, fences put up and are monitored by security so you don't get access. The owners have definitely found a unique offering for the tourism and media industries. For me, I know when I come to places like this I can never take enough images or video footage. This for sure is in my 'Top 5 things to do in Seoul', i'd recommend it to anyone.
Yongma Land https://yongmalandstudio.com/default/
Marrianna Mykhailova https://www.instagram.com/marianna_mykhailova/