Uijeongbu

Not a lot of people have heard of a city called Uijeongbu (Oo-jong-boo), allow me to fill you in.

Uijeongbu is a "large" and great northern city in the province of Gyeonggi-do (that's the one that surrounds Seoul). I have been living in Uijeongbu for over a year now, and while it took me a long time to appreciate its appeal I am so happy with what it has to offer.

For a start it is still very close to Seoul. A 45 minute trip on the subway takes you right into the heart of Seoul where you can live it up in the party districts of Itaewon or Hongdae, go shopping in Dongdaemun or Myeongdong, or just explore the megalopalis. Uijeongbu has its own areas of bars, restaurants and entertainment, but you will have to do the leg work or ask your co-teachers to help you find the best spots, I'm not big on going out drinking! Uijeongbu has two very large markets (one above ground and one below) as well as a very manicured plaza with franchise stores for all your fashion needs. A department store is also nearing completion to add to the consumer experience.

If outdoors is your thing, Uijeongbu is just amazing. As a relatively "new" city, the roads and pavements are spacious, buildings are well designed and attractive, and best of all, the city is paralelled on the east and west sides by mountains. Nature can be hard to come by in cities closer to Seoul, so the natural beauty of the hills is just great. Just 30 minutes away by bus is Bukhansan Mountain, which is especially beautiful and much less crowded than Dobongsan (just 20 minutes south) for those who can handle the summer heat and humidity. Back to the city, running through centre is a river with walking and cycling lanes, and on summer evenings you can see Koreans lined up following their aerobics and yoga instructors.

Uijeongbu is very well mapped with public transport: you have a choice of busses, trains, taxis, and a light railway (soon to be completed) that will take you practically anywhere cheaply. Continuing with the public theme, there is the Uijeongbu Art Centre, that has regular performances of music, dance and theatre, the public library (although lacking in English somewhat), a Youth Centre, Sports and Health Centres as well as parks and walking trails.

Uijeongbu has two large supermarkets, Lottemart and Homeplus, and thousands of little marts. Homeplus is great for getting foreign treats, while Lottemart offers great prices. If cooking is not your thing, there are diners serving Korean food on practically every corner.

One of the best parts about Uijeongbu is how cheap it is. While you are still very close to Seoul the cost of living is much lower: gas and utility bills are a fraction of the cost for living in Seoul.

While foreigners are not as common as inside Seoul, there are a decent number of us scattered around. I made the choice to immerse myself in Korean culture and living, and have made friends with Koreans. I take ballet and yoga classes with a Korean instructor and students, and this has had the beneficial effect of learning Korean much faster, as well as enjoying the friendliness of Koreans. Koreans are also extremely funny, enjoyable people to be around, so don’t let language barriers stop you getting involved with non-teachers, you'd be amazed how far charades and Konglish can go!

I hope I have given you a great taste of what my fabulous city has to offer, while its sometimes a little challenging finding things, half the fun can be had finding it!

Uijeongbu number 1 !!

 

 

 

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