It's the time of the year again that when the cool breezes finally blow over Seoul and the Han River, and the Hanwha Group celebrates the onset of autumn with dazzling fireworks that light up the skies over Yeouido for a colorful (and explosive!) night! I have enjoyed this festival many times before, and the fireworks just keep better, more colorful, louder and more exciting than the preceding year's.
(Others have claimed their spot early during the day)
Although, I may miss this year's fireworks as I will be out of the country when Yeouido becomes the most popular spot in Seoul that night, I am reliving the memories of last year's experience so that others can pick up a tip or two on what I usually do to make my trip to Yeouido (along with a million other people!) hassle-free and enjoyable!
First, is the route plan: Although the Yeouinaru Station is the closest the festival site, this station is usually shut down that day and is not accessible to avoid overcrowding. I'm not sure if this is the case again next Saturday. To confirm this, you can just call 02-1330 (Korea Tourism Organization hotline) to confirm this. But I would suggest you avoid this station, even if it's accessible.
(A live TV broadcast at the fireworks festival)
So, I take a bus going to Sinnonhyeon Station (Line 9) to get Saetgang Station, which is about 300 meters away from 63 KLI Building. Getting out from Saetgang Station's Exit 3, I just walk towards towards the site, like everyone else. Not all roads going to the venue will be open to vehicular traffic.
(The crowd awaiting the fireworks)
Second, grab an early dinner at one of the restaurants in the buildings behind the 63 KLI. My friends Andrew, his wifey and I usually grab our buddae-jiggae dinner there. We make sure our tummies are full as it will be about 4 hours again before we can grab our next bite. Also, make sure you visit the restroom before heading out. Your bladder may ruin the night's excitement if you don't unload what has to be unloaded. Ha-ha-ha!
Third, wearing your comfortable walking shoes, bringing your cameras with fully charged batteries and spare memory cards, and wearing a warm sweater, you're now ready to head out to the site and join a million other people, who have already claimed their spots. You don't need to get down to the banks of the Han River to enjoy the show. If you're in front of the 63 KLI Building, like we always were, you can see the display and hear the loud music accompanying the fireworks comfortably. All you need is a spot where you can sit or stand. But be prepared to stand for about 3 hours. Why? If there are 3 participating teams and each team's fireworks last 30 minutes, the whole show may last until 9:30PM or later.
(My favorite photo of the night!)
And immediately right after the last KABOOM!, we usually rush to the coffee shop at the 63 KLI Building so that we can get seats ahead of other people. But now, since I'm sharing this tip, I am worried next year, I will all be seeing you there ahead of us. Ha-ha-ha!
At the cafe, we take our time resting our tired legs and enjoy our cold drinks, while watching thousands of people made their way to the bus stops, nearby subway stations and their parked cars somewhere. I always didn't rush myself going back to the Saetgang Station as the queues outside the station are sure to be very long. The police always had to control the crowd (which is good), preventing commuters to go inside the station if it's overcrowded.
(Waffle and a cold drink)
(A long line outside the Saetgang Station)
(The crowd awaiting the train inside the Saetgang Station)
So, hopefully, next year, I will be in Seoul when the fireworks light up the Yeouido skies again. But in the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the festival this year!