"I'll tell you how the sun rose,--
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
"That must have been the sun!"
- Emily Dickinson
Just as some interpret Emily Dickinson's poem to be about birth and death, many in Korea observe the sun as the year comes to a close and take a time of reflection. For the country's best views, the truth is most flock to the East Coast or to Jeju Island, but for those of you who might want to make a simple gesture without leaving the city - here are some great views for you to be inspired.
Fans of traditional Korean art may be familiar with the 338m Inwangsan Mountain from Jeong Seon's 1751 portrayal of it just as the rain has cleared; A painting entitled "Inwangjesakdo" (or "After Rain at Mt. Inwang). Add a sunrise to the panoramic view at the top and the breathtaking view continues to inspire art today. Photographer John Steele chooses Inwang Temple as one of his favorite sunrise locations and explains, "Viewing the sun rise up from behind the Seoul Tower is always a refreshing way to start a day in Seoul. One place to do that is from behind Inwang Temple which is located on the side of the iconic Inwangsan Mountain. Winter is the best time to see it."
Directions: Go to Gyeongbokgung Station (line 3), exit 3. Take Jongno Bus 09 and get off at Ogin APT. Walk approximately 660m to Inwangsan Mountain.
For those in central Seoul desiring to see the sunrise or sunset without going too far from the city, the Han River beckons. Photographer John Steele's go-to spot for a great sunset view? While he says anywhere on the north side is great, this particular rooftop shot was taken on near Mapo. "If you are lucky enough to have access to a rooftop - maybe in your or a friend's building - or perhaps a rooftop bar or restaurant, you will have a particularly interesting perspective, but ground level is breathtaking as well. Any time of year is fine, just wait for a clear day with dramatic clouds, perhaps right after a storm has come through town, to view the sunset on the Han."
Directions: [to Mapo Bridge Observatory] Go to Yeouinaru Station (line 5), exit 2. Cross the road (Mapo-daero) and you’ll see the sunset observatory on the bridge.
Yongbongjeong Park located in Heukseok-dong is often referred to as an observatory. Travel writer Choi Gab-su, who is famous for his sentimental essays, recommends this place as you can see both sunrise and sunset here. There is a small wooden observation deck in front of the village and when you stand there, you can’t help but exclaim. You can see the Han River and the islets of Bamseon as the whole river reveals itself to you. Here you can also see the 63 Building, Seogang Bridge, Mapo Bridge, Wonhyo Bridge, Hangang Railway Bridge, Hangang Bridge, N Seoul Tower and even Bukhansan Mountain. This place is a hidden gem for photographers.
Directions: Go to Heukseok Station (line 9) and take the bus to Dalmasa Temple.
Although the peak of the mountain is a mere 81m, the view from the top makes you feel like you're at a height of 810m. At Octagonal Pavilion on Eungbongsan Mountain, you can see Seoul Forest and the nearby Gangbyeon Expressway all lit up by the cars speeding past. From across multiple bridges on the Han River, the sun greets you from afar as it slowly fades into the horizon. Beloved by photographers and artists alike, it is the go-to spot for well-reputed artist Choi Kab-soo.
Directions: Get off at Eungbong Station (Jungang Line), exit 1. Walk straight for about 725m to reach the destination.
It’s not in Seoul. But it’s special to see the sunrise on Yeongjong Island, which is only about 50 minutes away from the city. What’s even better is that you don’t have to shiver in the cold standing outside to see the sunrise early in the morning. Editor-in-Chief of Timeout Seoul, Lee Dong-mi, says that this is the best place to see the sunrise. “Even until I woke up in the morning, I didn’t know I could see the sunrise from my room. I was later told that the hotel’s location somehow allows you to see the rising sun no matter which room you’re in. Luckily enough (I got up right before sunrise), I greeted the sun drinking coffee in my pajamas —it was the best sunrise of the year!” She added that she wants to see the first sunrise of the New Year here as well.
Directions: Take AREX and go to Incheon International Airport Station. You can take a shuttle bus from the station to the hotel, which departs every hour.