43 – Gungsan 궁산

43 - Gungsan 2

Gungsan 궁산
Magpie Battle Forest
Subway: Yangcheon Hyanggyo (Line 9)
Distance hiked: 1.57 km
Time: 50:50

After the last few small, and rather sad-looking, parks, I do not have much hope for Gungsan, which is quite a long commute from the studio. But I am intrigued by the 600-year-old Yangcheon Hyanggyo at the foot of it. A hyanggyo is a government-run Confucian temple and academy—of the 234 that once existed in Korea. This is the only one that still exists in Seoul, albeit non-functional though with occasional ritual ceremonies. Beginning my trek, I first go through an arch with an abundance of greenery and afterwards encounter trees arranged in neat rows. Spring flowers have fallen, and the ground is blanketed in white. Further on, I see a pavilion with a nice view of the Han River.

A small meadow is host to a magpie, and I watch it play for a while before going ahead. And finally, a nice descent that consists of a lovely forest devoid of people. Lots of trees in sight, and because it is my first time here, my heart pounds at not knowing when this forest will end. It is a rather sharp descent, and my shoes keep slipping. I listen to the sounds of magpies that I suspect live on these trees. It is quite a peaceful place. This will make a rather nice production set for a movie, I muse. Perhaps it already has. Finally, I realize I am nearing the end, and I am exhilarated. I love being wrong about places, sometimes.

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