Namsan (South Hill) once marked the southern edge of Seoul many generations ago. Nowadays, it stands in the center of the sprawling city, surrounded by the major shopping districts of Namdaemun, Myongdong, and Itaewon. The park itself covers almost a million pyong (1 pyong = 3.3 sq. meters), with over 60 species of trees, plants, and animals.
The park gives a wide patch of green to the downtown area. The park has several hiking trails leading to the 262-meter peak with Seoul Tower, as well as several exercise areas, making the park very popular among Seoulites for early morning exercise. The Citizens' Health Jogging Course is one of the regular annual events and you can have your blood pressure and pulse taken by volunteers during Spring and Autumn.
However, it also blocks traffic in and out of the downtown area, so engineers have built no fewer than three tunnels underneath it. The 1st Namsan Tunnel connects Hannam-dong with the Myeong-dong and Chungmu-ro areas, the 2nd Namsan Tunnel runs from Itaewon to the southwestern part of Chung-gu (near Dongguk university), and the 3rd Namsan Tunnel runs between Itaewon and Namdaemun. Urban encroachment threatened many of the plants and animals in the park. In the 1990s, the Seoul government decided to remove some existing buildings (mostly residential buildings used by foreigners) and return the land to nature. However, several deluxe hotels remain along its slopes.
In addition to Seoul Tower and its attractions, Namsan Park contains many places of interest, including the National Theater, Namsan Public Library, Namsan Botanical Gardens, and several statues in memorial of Korean patriots. The park also contains Paljakjung (an octagonal pavilion), an aquarium, a fountain, and a cable car leading to Seoul Tower. For tourist groups, a tour program called Namsan Field Classroom is provided from June to October. Except for cable car, the other facilities are free. To the north is Namsangol Traditional Folk Village.