There is a hill. It’s a steep hill. The foliage distracts from what looks like the long hike ahead. A sigh of relief can be heard from guests visiting N Seoul Tower as they reach the top after a surprisingly short hike. The view is breath-taking, even from the ground level as the far off fog envelops the buildings. The country of Seoul is gigantically green with more buildings than one would have been imagined before visiting Seoul. N Seoul Tower marks the highest point in Seoul and has been rated by tourists as one of the best tourist sites in Seoul.
“Seoul Tower is a place of famous in Seoul. You can see the West Sea on the top of Nam Mountain, if it is nice weather. And at night, [the] view is very nice,” Young, local business owner, said.
Seoul Tower stands 480 meters above sea level on top of Mt. Namsan. The original tower opened in 1980 and has since been remodeled, giving Seoul Tower the new name of N Seoul Tower, the “N” standing for new. It took architect Jong Youl Chang five years to construct the tower. The tower has another purpose besides being a tourism spot. It also serves as a telecom tower that transmits FM radio signals. With the remodel came a new lighting system, and the tower now lights up every night at 7. The lights can be changed to coordinate certain events and the changing of the seasons.
Since Seoul Tower is a popular tourism spot, many locals will recommend this attraction to visitors.
“I always recommend that place because they can climb there in short time. Nam Mountain is beautiful in the building,” Young said.
Locals who are not seeing Seoul for the first time like tourists may recommend the site, but might not have the same experience with it.
“I think it’s one of those places where people will go regardless of what the natives tell them simply because it’s highlighted on almost all tour guides as a ‘must-see.’ Kind of how I would feel if I went to Paris for the first time and didn’t get to see the Eiffel Tower. The Tower itself doesn’t do much for me, but I do recommend seeing the lovely nature that surrounds it,” Sojung Park, Seoul local, said. “Walking to the Tower is better than taking the bus because you get to tell a great story and do touristy things. The view from the top is nothing special in my opinion since there aren’t many landmark places in Seoul that stand out from a distance. It’s mostly just a huge sprawl.”
Many people will use the hike as a workout. The convenience store at the base of the small hike allows people to remain hydrated while exercising there.
In addition to the tower, there is an attraction called Locks of Love. This part of Namsan Mountain has been popular since about 2008. It is a place where couples or even friends can lock up their love or friendship so that it can remain everlasting. It is also a standing reminder of the vow to never separate or always remain friends. After locking their promises up, couples throw the keys into the forest to ensure that the bond is never broken.
“It’s very common to do now. However, it’s not just for Korean couples. Recently people from abroad have been getting in on the action, and you’re also just as likely to see a group of high school best girlfriends sign a large lock together to seal their friendship,” Alex Paik, PR Coordinator and Consultant for Seoul Tourism Organization, said.
Since the number of visitors has increased, thus increasing the number of locks, the dangers that come with the attraction have also increased. Keys being thrown can result in injury to those below the deck, so there is now a red bin for the couples to drop their keys in.
Locks are not available on site, so locals and tourists must bring their own locks.
“You must bring your own. However, some stores in the area do have a variety of locks on sale. People have gotten very creative with these locks, and some have found ways to lash on humongous smartphone cases, which over more convenience and surface area for writing messages,” Paik said. “They actually replaced the gates because they were getting too heavy, so your love really isn’t locked there forever.”
A reality show called “We Got Married” also played a heavy hand in making the attraction more popular among young couples. They chose Locks of Love as the reunion spot for all of the celebrities and have given the site more attention.
“‘We Got Married’ is a kind of stupid show in which 2 celebrities pretend to be “married” and go on “dates,” but it’s actually more like “We Are Roommates” since it’s really innocent and there’s no real romantic connection,” Hannah Bae said.
Some locals have differing opinions of the attraction.
“There are couples everywhere! It seems that in Seoul, at any given minute, there will always be a couple who have either started dating or have just broken up. There is a huge couple culture in Korea, so this is just another trend among couples,” Park said. “I’ve been there but never tried the lock of love. Personally, I think it’s weird to buy something and leave it where I bought it. That sort of defies my notion of buying something, which means I get to take it home.”
Seoul is known for its architecture and design and N Seoul Tower is a perfect place to see the structure of the city. If planning a visit to N Seoul Tower, it is important to pay attention to the weather. Visiting on a clear day is ideal.