I always love gardens, they are one of my favourite places to visit. Especially indoor gardens – there’s just something about them that interests me.
After visiting Seoul Botanic Park last year, I wanted to explore more indoor gardens. However, they really aren’t that common.
That’s why I was happy when I saw some news in December about a new underground solar park in Jonggak Station!
Getting to the Solar Garden
Getting to the solar garden from the Seoul Metro is very easy and convenient. So convenient in fact, that you don’t even need to leave the subway!
To get to Jonggak Station, take Line 1 to Jonggak. The station itself is located just a few stops away from Seoul Station.
Once you get to the station, head towards exit 3-1. If you can’t see any signs pointing towards exit 3, head to the other end of the station – it can be confusing to find, but the signs will tell you the directions.
On your way towards exit 3-1, you can’t miss the garden. It is located right before the exit and you can’t reach the exit without first passing through the garden.
Jonggak Station Solar Garden
The Jonggak Solar Garden opened on December 13th, 2019. Despite being located underground, the park is provided natural sunlight by solar collectors located above the surface.
The light is collected and then dispersed on the garden below. On days of cloudy weather, or at nighttime, LEDs are turned on below, keeping the garden constantly lit.
Jonggak is said to be the world’s first subterranean park that is solar-powered. An impressive feat for an area that was once just a passage for passers-by.
Due to the low amount of sunlight, the garden is still restricted to certain types of plant species. However, this doesn’t stop the garden from having quite a variety of plants already – over 35 different species.
Interestingly, there are already fruit plants planted in the garden. Although I have no idea where this fruit will go, it’s a cool idea. Many smart-farms are beginning to appear under Seoul.
The garden itself is quite small and is made up of a few different garden beds. Each bed is made up of different plants and is surrounded by seating which is available for anyone to use.
The roof of the garden is covered with some kind of metal, which I assume is used to reflect the light back down into the garden. It’s a very cool concept and something that I can’t wait to see more of in the future.
The garden is also located right outside of a large bookstore which can be entered directly from the Solar Garden. In the bookstore a cafe can also be found, the cafe looks out towards the garden.
All in all, this makes the garden a great place to relax and spend some time. If you like to read, you can even purchase a book and read it in the garden! Although, the seats aren’t the most comfortable.
Finally, located around the garden are little booths. These booths are made for small markets and can sometimes be found selling handmade goods and other items.
Why the Garden is Important
Despite being quite small, and seemingly insignificant other than the novelty, the Jonggak Solar Garden is a bit more important than that.
This garden is the first step towards creating more underground greenspaces in Seoul – something that is obviously currently very lacking. While found only in Seoul right now, this technology is sure to spread internationally in the future.
As many things begin to move underground (especially in Seoul), these gardens will become more essential. Not only gardens, but Seoul has already started growing vegetables underground also!
On top of this, these gardens are a great use of otherwise wasted space. Before this area of the station was converted into a garden it was nothing. It was just a large open area that was used by metro passengers.
Before being transformed, the area was really just wasted space. Now it’s something a bit more interesting, and definitely a breath of fresh air (literally!).
Seoul has become very good at recycling old structures. Seoullo 7017 is a highway that was converted into a walking path and garden inspired by a similar structure in New York.
An old bunker on Yeouido was also turned into an art museum recently – something which no one would have ever guessed that the bunker would be used for!
All of these converted areas are fantastic examples of recycling, something which is becoming more and more essential by the day.
Put more simply, the Jonggak Solar Garden provides a nice green-space for locals. It breaks up the otherwise monotonous Seoul Metro footpaths.
It is for this reason that I believe that the Jonggak Solar Garden is a brilliant idea and hopefully a sign of things to come in the future. The Seoul subway is already one of the most advanced in the world, and attractions like this increase its lead.