The Korea Herald


Seoul to have new gondola lifts for Namsan tour

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : June 19, 2023 - 15:45

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A bird's-eye view blueprint of the Namsan gondola. (Seoul Metropolitan Government) A bird's-eye view blueprint of the Namsan gondola. (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

Seoul City said Monday that it would increase accessibility and restore the ecosystem of Namsan with a brand-new gondola connecting visitors from Myeong-dong the top of the mountain, along with leisure facilities.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will introduce 25 ten-seater gondolas that head to the top of the mountain, which can transport more than 1,000 people per hour. It is an eco-friendly transportation that does not create pollutants such as dust during operation. The construction of the gondola will begin next year and will be completed by the end of 2025.

A barrier-free design will be applied on the road connecting the Myeongdong Subway Station and Namsan Yejang Park, where a gondola platform will be installed, to enhance accessibility for the disabled and elderly.

Profits from the gondola lift operation will be used to manage the ecological environment of Namsan, which includes expanding the ecological environment conservation area within Namsan; preventing pests and harmful foreign organisms; and managing exotic plants.

Namsan is not only home to a variety of wildlife -- including 24 protected species, 170 species of insects, and 185 species of plants – it is also a tourist attraction equipped with civic leisure facilities such as the N Seoul Tower and outdoor botanical gardens. The mountain is a representative tourist spot visited by more than 8 million visitors a year.

However, the ecological environment of Namsan is being threatened by recent drastic changes to vegetation and inflow of foreign pests. Additionally, there has been no efficient means of transportation since the city restricted the entry of tourist buses in August 2021. Private companies have been operating Namsan cable cars since 1962, but improvements are needed to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment.

In order to strengthen the role of Namsan as a leisure space in central Seoul, a skywalk trail will be installed, where visitors can enjoy the city view. Existing trails will also be renovated, and the city is planning to provide ecosystem education programs to attract visitors.

Earlier on June 12, the city launched the Development Council for Sustainable Namsan consisting of city officials, civic environmental groups and environmental experts. Han Bong-ho, a landscape architecture professor at the University of Seoul who was inaugurated as the head of the council, expressed anticipation for a revamped Namsan, saying at the council’s opening ceremony that the Sustainable Namsan Project will be "an exemplary case of people from all walks of life cooperating to create various policies to preserve Namsan's ecological environment and create a leisure space for citizens."