I though this post was appropriate considering it is the fourth of July. Happy Independence Day to all our American readers and of course to my amazing American family, which includes my favorite Yank, my wife Jill! Baby, I love the look the Koreans give you when you fire your gun off the rooftop of our apartment. Anyway, last weekend we had the opportunity to visit Incheon. I really wanted to get out of Seoul and since this was the little one’s first trip outside the city, we thought Incheon would be reasonable. Jayu Park was interesting to me. I found it to be a celebration of American-Korean relations. There is the centennial monument of Korea-US relations, as well as a statue commemorating the successfully landing of the UN Forces at Incheon during the Korean War lead by famed five-star U.S General Douglas MacArthur.
LP’s Description: The guidebook makes us aware that the word “Jayu” means freedom and that the park was designed by a Russian civil engineer in 1888. Naturally, it mentions the MacArthur Statue and the U.S-Korea Relations Centennial Monument.
How to get there: There are multiple ways to get to Jayu Park, with about half a dozen signs located around Incheon station. We decided to approach the park from Incheon Station. We walked through the First Paeru, which is distinguished by its red and gold sign welcoming us to Chinatown. The hill is fairly steep, so be prepared for a little bit of a hike. Also, there are some steps, so if you have a stroller like us, please take notice. That said, there are other multiple ways into the park and my honest advice is to explore Chinatown on your way up.
Into The Park We Go: Once you get pass the stairs and the climbing, the rest of the park is actually quite easy to navigate around. The walkways are paved and nicely shaded. The breeze from the ocean is refreshing and the views are phenomenal. The park is laid out like a top with early spiral slow spinning towards the peak. Enjoy the nice, peaceful, circular walk on the way up to the monument and the statue.
The General Douglas MacArthur Statue: Why is there a General Douglas MacArthur statue in Incheon? Basically, he turned the tides of the Korean War with a daring landing at Incheon on September 15th, 1950. South Korean forces were pushed down to Busan, but MacArthur’s daring strategy essentially cut the North Korean forces in half. It is often considered the Korean War’s version of D-Day. The statue stands approximately 15 meters high and is surrounded by a beautiful garden and has a peaceful ambience. It was definitely worth the visit.
The American-Korean Centennial Monument: A peace treaty between the U.S and Korea was signed on May 22nd, 1882. One hundred years later, that diplomatic peace remains strong. This monument commemorates that relationship and was dedicated on December 14th, 1982.
Final Analysis: Since moving to South Korea, I’ve developed an interest in the Korean War and so this was a rewarding experience. However, this park is not the traditional type of open-spaced park that is becoming ubiquitous around Korea. This park is designed to be toured, not necessarily relaxed in. The monument and statue are cool, but if you aren’t a war buff and want a place just to chill out and have a picnic, this park isn’t for you.
Who Should Visit Jayu Park: Anyone with an interest in Korean-American relations would be interested in this park. Also, the walking trails are nicely shaded and the views are great.
Who Should Avoid Jayu Park: If you are looking for a place to sit down, open up a bottle of wine and read poetry to your beau, this isn’t the place. Sorry Romeo.