Explore the happenings of the Asian Community in Duluth, Johns Creek, and Suwanee.

Songdo Offers Taste of Europe

Smart City shows Korea’s yesterday, today and tomorrow

For a landmark of Incheon, most people think of the harbor, the nearby islands or Incheon International Airport. But the Songdo International Business District is emerging as a new hot spot for filming TV commercials, dramas and music videos. It offers plush green spaces, gleaming new architecture and an interesting backdrop of skyscrapers and sculptures.

Some of the attractions are Compact-Smart City, a gallery detailing the past, present and future of Incheon, and the Incheon Bridge Observatory, where visitors head to catch a glimpse of the sun setting over the West Sea.

It takes about one hour to get from Seoul to Songdo, and there is a two-hour tour program that shows visitors around the ultra-modern business district. But the best place to learn about Songdo as well as Incheon is Compact-Smart City.

The exhibition hall on the first floor explains the origin of Incheon’s name and includes scale models of the first lighthouse, an early weather-forecasting station, an old mint, the former Jemulpo port and more relics and modern attractions of the city.

Visitors can also learn about how Jemulpo, the former name of Incheon, was the first Korean city to be developed in a Western style after Japan forced the country to open its doors in the late 19th century. The city’s port is unique because it has a locking gate.

The second floor of the gallery features a room showing a model of Incheon on a scale of 1:1,200. This gives visitors a clear picture of the exact location of buildings and roads by having parts of the model light up and appear on screen at the touch of a button as they walk around.

Visitors can have fun by solving an onscreen quiz by stepping on spaces marked with either an “O” or “X” on the floor. They can also enjoy pictures and footage of movies and dramas filmed in the city.

On the right side of Compact-Smart City there is a UFO-shaped structure called the Tri-Bowl, which comprises three deep bowls representing the sky, sea and earth. This was built to commemorate the 2009 Global Fair and Festival by Incheon City.

After the history lesson, tourists can head outdoors and soak up some sunshine at Songdo Central Park, where swaying reeds mingle with the smell of the sea. The park, which is modeled on the artificial waterways found in Venice, is a lake park created using seawater — making it unique in Korea. Another notable part of the design is Canal Walk, where European-style buildings that fall under the themes of spring, summer, fall and winter stand in a row along the central waterway.

At dusk, visitors can make their way to the Incheon Bridge Observatory to see the bridge and nearby skyscrapers start to light up as the sun dips over the horizon, bathing everything in a magical glow.

▲Clockwise from top left: Tri-Bowl, Songdo Central Park, Incheon Bridge Observatory, and Canal Walk

▲A visitor looks at a model of Incheon at the Compact-Smart City gallery

▲Night views of the Songdon International Business District

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