Here lies a defunct amusement park rusting away. Japanese Arrowroot is reclaiming the Nude Viking. For other explorers and me, abandoned amusement parks are drop-everything, must-see opportunities. You never know when they might be demolished, miraculously revitalized, or in the case of Yongma Land, become a hotspot for Kpop groupies and engaged couples. This park is situated in the middle of an active playground and soccer stadium complex. It’s kinda hidden in plain sight. People walk past the remnants of the amusement park focused on their jogs or psyching themselves up to play a soccer match on the local K-league team’s practice pitch. People who don’t think about abandoned eyesores tend to block it out of their mind. I used to be like that, but then curiosity got the better of me.
The pitch divides the out-of-date park into two sections. On the way between the sectors, you encounter a disused zebra-striped painted jeep. This definitely was a feature of the park at one time. It sticks out like a sore thumb. The jeep clashes with the well-tended soccer field.
The first time I visited this amusement park was July 2017. Jon organized a going away party for me and our friend Margarita. I had decided to move to Japan, and I believe Margarita was moving to Thailand. It was a muggy, rainy afternoon. Robert was living in the area and decided to join us later. I think Paul also came on his own as well. I remember we went to Duriban for dinner. It was delicious! Anyways, we explored the area, took silly pictures, and had a good time despite the crappy weather. I had just gotten my first film camera, a Leica R4S SLR camera trying to learn the ropes of exposure. I don’t think I did too well, but I still enjoy the pictures. Here are some shots from that first visit.
Fast forward to June 2019, it was a bright, warm day. I thought it would be good to check on this place. Like life, there is an element of uncertainty in urban exploration. Every infiltration might be your last visit. Is it me or has redevelopment has picked up in Korea in the previous few years? It definitely has in Gwangju. Seoul is a never-ending urban redevelopment project. Many places that were famous among urban explorers (i.e., Okpo Land, Gonjiam, The Nightmare Lab) have been razed. We only have our photos now. I also have my regrets that I didn’t get to reshoot Gonjiam and the Nightmare Lab on film. It was with a slight sense of urgency, I used multiple forms of public transportation to revisit this amusement park. Now, I just need to go see the Say Sue Me slides in person, and I will be temporarily satisfied. A lowgrade adrenaline rush that I appreciate in my older age.