Han River [한강]: also known as Hangang, is a major river in South Korea and the fourth longest river on the Korean peninsula.

 

This spot could easily be the only reason I’d set foot in Seoul, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I have always been curious about Han river. I’ve heard its name many times in soulful songs, and I’ve watched it through touching Kdrama scenes; but in order to fully connect with it, I knew I had to see it for myself.

Today, I’m going to share with you the painful beauty of Han river.

Origins of Han

Han is a theorized culture-bound syndrome in Hanja that denotes a collective feeling of oppression and isolation in the face of insurmountable odds, the overcoming of which is beyond the nation’s own capabilities. It connotes aspects of lament and unavenged injustice.

In the Minjung theologian Suh Nam-dong’s words, Han describes the combined feelings of:

  1. Unresolved resentment against injustices suffered.
  2. A sense of helplessness because of the overwhelming odds against one.
  3. A feeling of acute pain in one’s guts and bowels.
  4. Making the whole body writhe and squirm.
  5. An obstinate urge to take revenge and to right the wrong.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced a feeling or two of the aches mentioned above, if not all at once.

Symbolization of Han River

After defining the origins of Hangang’s name, the river loudly tells its own story.

While it’s one of Seoul’s most valuable monuments, it also happens to be one of its most cursed sites. In fact, many souls have ended their lives on the Han river bridge, bidding their continuous torments farewell once and for all.

The horrendous acts of suicide kept rising sharply since 2012, consequently making a mourning spot out of the bridge. Thankfully, a suicide rescue team has been hired to keep an eye on the area. Furthermore, uplifting signs of sympathy have been ornating the bridge, in a hopeful attempt to change the minds of the visiting lost souls.

The many sides of Hangang

Away from the painful truth, there is so much beauty within Hangang that brings positivity to its visitors. Along the river lies Hangang Park, which consists of 12 parks:

  1. Gwangnaru Park
  2. Jamsil Park
  3. Ttukseom Park
  4. Jamwon Park
  5. Ichon Park
  6. Banpo Park
  7. Mangwon Park
  8. Yeouido Park
  9. Nanji Park
  10. Gangseo Park
  11. Yanghwa Park
  12. Seonyudo Park

Activities vary from one park to another, but overall you can enjoy walks, bike ridings, picnics, camping, water sports, and most importantly the famous Ferry cruise.

A Behind-The-Story Motive

When in pain, we all try to find ways to detach from the emptiness felt inside. Sometimes, the pain grows far greater than to be contained, thus consuming us from within.

The first time I heard of Han river, I knew I had to pay it a visit for all sorts of reasons. I felt sorry that this exact spot carried countless unsolved aches, and I wanted to see if it was possible to leave my agony at its bank, without adding to its heaviness.

While I originally planned to visit all 12 parks; bad weather, bad planning, and bad timing made me settle for 5 parks only: Banpo, Jamwon, Yeouido, Gwangnaru, and Ttukseom.

I buried a piece of me in every park, and I chose to believe that it would bring me comfort onwards. Instead of succombing to my weakness, I preferred to leave it behind, and I came back home pain-free. Or so I thought.

That’s all for today! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and stay tuned for more Hallyu gems. Until I see you next time, thank you for reading me.

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