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Arts & Cultur A New Style of Travel, Staycation in Pocheon and Namyangju


Let’s take a break amid the autumn breeze – an outing to Pocheon and Namyangju

The scorching summer has faded, and I feel the gentle touch of a cool breeze on my face. The sky is getting clearer and higher, and the green forest in the mountain is ready to change clothes soon in autumn. It will be an insult to nature if you stay indoors during the beautiful autumn. Let’s go on an outing to nature, away from the daily hustle and bustle of life. Let’s visit a lake with pretty cafes or a forest with thick pine trees to find an oasis for our body and mind.


Tour Course


Pocheon Africa Art Museum → 4.65km, 12 minutes by car → Gomo-ri Café Village → 5.54km, 13 minutes by car → Namyangju Gwangneung → 1.62km, 3 minutes by car → Bongseonsa Temple

1. Traveling in Africa without a passport – Africa Art Museum




“Boom bop! Boom bop! Boom boom bop!” Exciting music flows out and enters my ears. It sounds a little strange, but my shoulders are moving up and down to the simple rhythm and beat, which are familiar to me in a sense. I am standing in front of Africa Art Museum feeling as if I were in Serengeti National Park reddened by the flames of sunset.

The first place I see after passing the main gate is the pond eco-park. The forest around the pond looks beautiful, but the main attraction is the fancy carp. The scene of the school of fancy carp gathering to eat food is spectacular. You can buy the food for carp at the ticket office. Next to the carp pond is the sculpture park where Shona sculptures -- the essence of the stone culture of Africa -- are displayed. Shona sculptures were made in the community of modern sculpture art in Zimbabwe during the 1950s. The sculptures are so delicate that it is hard to believe that they were carved with only traditional tools such as chisel and hammer.  

The inside exhibition hall shows the culture, arts, and life of Africa through the more than 300 pieces of exhibits showing the four phases of life of Africans including birth, ageing, sickness, and death as well as coming-of-age ceremony and wedding. There are also many rare items such as the wooden mask worn by a witch doctor and the items used in the coming-of-age ceremony. Stuffed animals such as tiger, hyena, zebra, polar bear, penguin, etc. in the themed exhibition hall also catch the eye.  


Address: 967, Gwangneungsumogwon-ro Soheul-eup, Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do


Operating hours: 10:00~18:00

Admission: Adult KRW 5,500, Child KRW 4,500  

Website: http://www.amoa.or.kr



2. Drinking delicious coffee beside the beautiful reservoir – Gomo-ri Café Village

The coffee looks so delicious to the eyes. They say that we drink coffee first with its aroma and then again with its taste. In Gomo-ri Café Village, we drink coffee once more with our eyes looking at the blue sky reflected on the calm lake and even the clouds flowing in the sky.  

Gomo Reservoir is as beautiful as Sanjeong Lake, which represents Pocheon. Gomo Reservoir is an artificial lake created in January 1980 for the supply of agricultural water. The beautiful scenery of the lake drew people naturally. The beautiful landscape spread through word of mouth, and restaurants and cafés were built one after another. In 10 years, people began to call the place Gomo-ri Café Village.

The relationship between Gomo-ri Café Village and Gomo Reservoir is like that of needle and thread. Some people found out about the existence of the reservoir when they dropped by the café, with some others going on an outing to the reservoir and being charmed by a deep flavor of coffee. Most of the cafés and restaurants are located beside the reservoir, making it possible to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Gomo Reservoir.  

After enjoying the tasty coffee and the beautiful scenery of the reservoir with your mouth and eyes, it’s time to refresh your body by walking around Gomo Reservoir. The total length of the Dullegil trail around Gomo Reservoir is 2.6km. The whole trail is covered with fresh wooden deck for people of all ages to walk comfortably.  


Address: 456, Jugyeopsan-ro Soheul-eup, Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do

Tel.: +82-31-538-3370 (Tourism Theme Creation Department, Pocheon City Hall)

Admission: Free

Operating hours: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year


3. Strolling in Gwangneung, a wonderful forest taken care of by the Palace


I walk in the trail through the forest of tall pine trees. The forest is neither an arboretum nor a forest park. The final destination is Gwangneung, the tomb enshrining Sejo, the 7th king of the Joseon Dynasty, and his wife Queen Jeonghee. The tomb is surrounded by the most beautiful forest among the royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. The reason the forest of Gwangneung is so beautiful is that taking out even one clump of grass or cutting a tree in the area around the tomb has been prohibited. Having been protected for over 500 years that way, the forest has become the No. 1 forest in Korea.  

The path from the ticket office to the tomb looks mysterious, like a tunnel of a huge forest. Walking along the trail, you will be able to see a slowly moving toad and a squirrel busily preparing for winter. Oddly shaped trees are also must-sees. The stumps of a zelkova and a white oak are attached together to look like one tree. A quercus serrata has made several trunks from the same root. All the things you see while walking along the 400m trail are special supporting actors that make Gwangneung more beautiful.  

Compared to the splendor of the forest, the tomb was made plain according to the will of King Sejo. There are no stones like a folding screen for protecting it from damage around the tomb. There is no stone road from the spiked red to the pavilion near the tomb. There is no stone room inside the tomb. The coffin was put in a hole, and the gap was filled with lime. The plain tomb saved the manpower and money spent for the construction of the tomb, which became an example for the construction of royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.

King Sejo ascended to the throne after deposing and killing King Danjong who was his nephew. His drama-filled life was frequently used as material for movies and dramas. “The Face Reader” released in 2013, which sold 9 million tickets, and “Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead” released in 2017 are just some of the movies produced with the story of King Sejo as theme.


Address: 354, Gwangneungsumogwon-ro Jinjeop-eup, Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do


Operating hours: 09:00~18:00, Closed on Mondays  

Admission: KRW 1,000











4. Bongseonsa Temple with a pretty Korean signboard


Gwangneung Tomb is coupled with Bongseonsa Temple as the latter is the temple annexed to the former. The temple annexed to tomb like Bongseonsa Temple is built with the purpose of commemorating achievements and praying for the repose of the deceased. Yongjusa Temple is the temple annexed to Yungneung and Geonneung as well. In 1469, the year after the demise of King Sejo, Queen Jeonghee remodeled this temple -- which had been established by Preceptor Beopin during the reign of King Gwangjong of the Goyeo Dynasty -- to have 89 compartments and changed the name of the temple from Unaksa Temple to Bongseonsa Temple and designated it as the temple annexed to Gwangneung Tomb. At that time, the bronze bell of Bongseonsa Temple (Treasure No. 397), the flagpole support, the stone tablet indicating that one should dismount from a horse to pass through, etc. were also constructed. The precious relics remaining in Bongseonsa Temple -- which was burned to the ground during the Korean War – give us a clue as to the original shape of the temple. Bongseonsa Temple was rebuilt in 1960 to its current appearance.

Passing by the Iljumun Gate(One Pillar Gate) with a large signboard that reads “Unaksan Bongjusa,” you will see an elegant lotus garden. Bongseonsa Temple is located beyond the lotus garden, where the lotus festival is held every August. Before you enter the precinct of the temple, the statue of the Goddess of Mercy erected beside the pond next to the pavilion will catch your eye. Its slim body and face are somewhat different from the appearance of the statue of the Goddess of Mercy in other temples. It is an artwork by sculptor Choi Jong-tae, who is famous for the sculpting of the statue of the Goddess of Mercy in Gilsangsa Temple in Seoul. The statue of the Goddess of Mercy in Bongseonsa Temple looks like his recent work, judging from the date of construction -- May 26, 2017 -- carved on the marker stone.  

The signboard of Bongseonsa Temple looks peculiar, too. The signboard of the main building of Bongseonsa Temple is written in Korean, meaning “the main sanctum” instead of the usual Chinese characters. The writings on the pillars are also in Korean according to the will of Monk Unheo who was then the chief priest of the temple when the temple was repaired for the third time in 1970. Korean letters are much easier for people to understand than Chinese letters. The temple seems cozier and friendlier owing to such careful consideration.


Address: 32, Bongseonsa-gil Jinjeop-eup, Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do

Tel.:+82-31-527-1956 (temple office)

Admission: Free

Website: http://www.bongsunsa.net


1. Africa Art Museum operates the self-barbecue place. The camping zone in front of the outdoor stage is equipped with various facilities including picnic tables, Indian tents, and caravan. The rental prices are 40,000 won for a picnic table for 4 persons including the admission fee, 50,000 won for Indian tent, and 60,000 won for caravan. Cooking except barbecue is not allowed. The operating hours are 10:00~17:00. Guests are required to prepare the meat for barbecue, other foods, and all necessary tools by themselves. You can pay an additional 20,000 won for the use of charcoal, grill, tongs, scissors, gloves, torch, butane gas, etc.

2. Section 1 of “Charming Gwangneung Forest Trail” from One Pillar Gate of Bongseonsa Temple to Neungnaegyo Bridge was completed in May this year. The entire 1km-long forest trail is covered with fresh wooden deck for everyone to walk comfortably on the trail. Section 2 of the trail (2km) from Neungnaegyo Bridge to the main gate of National Arboretum is scheduled to be completed in December this year.  


Public Transportation Information

[Bus] Take intercity bus No. 3001 at Dong Seoul Terminal and get off at the bus stop of Donggyo 5-ri and Chukseok Checkpoint. Transfer to ordinary bus No. 21 and get off at the Africa Art Museum bus stop. The travel time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.


Driving   Information

Inner Circulation Road → To Bukbu Expressway in Wolgok → Bukbu Expressway → Jungnang IC of Sejong Pocheon Expressway → Millak Tollgate → To Dongducheon and Yangju in Millak Intersection → To Pocheon at Jageum Intersection → To Bongseonsa Temple and National Arboretum at Chukseok Resting Area → Gwangneung Arboretum Road → Africa Art Museum