Wolmyeongdong Park is in South Chungcheong, South Korea.
It spans an area of approximately 200 hectares and about 3,000 ft (910 m) above sea level in relatively mountainous terrain. The park enjoys four distinct seasons which change the landscape distinctly. The park is owned and run by the Christian Gospel Mission and consists of many natural and man-made attractions, including lakes, pavilions, waterfalls, springs, caves, hiking trails, rock landscapes, statues of Jesus, an art museum, eateries, sports facilities, various lodgings, and multi-purpose halls.
Key events are held annually, including the spring flower festivals, autumn rock festivals, and the summer retreats. These events attract thousands of people from around the region and overseas as well. All year round, visitors are welcome to visit but are required to register with the Christian Gospel Mission first.
This park has perhaps the largest rock landscape in the world. Its Ambition Masterpiece rock landscape runs a full 300 m long and is roughly 5 stories high. The rock landscape consists of a variety of standing and flat rocks that form three particular layers.
Construction of the Wolmyeongdong Park began in the early 1990s. It was a barren land with no water and the current mountains were so close to each other that they were almost touching. In order to develop the ambitious masterpiece, most of the Front Mountain was cut and reshaped so that the rock landscape could be developed. The Back Mountain was later developed accordingly. The rock landscape construction is reaching its final stages with a new courtyard being developed next to the Holy Son's House of Love.
In 1995, after Pastor Jung Myeong Seok discovered that there were natural water springs under particular parts of Wolmyeongdong, he led a team to develop the current lake and octagonal pavilion, which is in the middle of the lake. During spring or summer, one can row around the lake in a boat. There is even a tunnel that goes under the octagonal pavilion. During winter, the water in the lake freezes over, and the park is covered in snow.
The temperate, mountain, climate gives Wolmyeongdong a landscape with pine trees and other green trees and flowing spring waters. Wolmyeongdong is surrounded by 12 mountains/hills, and Wolmyeongdong itself is also hilly in terrain. The middle of wolmyeongdong where the sports field, lake and lawn are situated is relatively flat. Numerous rocks, large and small, were also made into a rock landscape that is more than 300 m long and 5 stories high, perhaps the world's largest rock landscape. The rock landscape is the most famous portion of Wolmyeongdong.
Flora and fauna
There are a multitude of different types of flora and fauna in Wolmyeongdong. Many of the different flowers are showcased during the spring flower festivals when they are in full bloom.
Since Wolmyeongdong is well above sea level, the temperature changes drastically depending on the season. In the summer, the temperature can reach up to 35°C while in the winter, the temperature can drop to -15°C. There are also summer monsoons between June and September. The best time to go is during autumn when leaves turn red (coincides with the annual Rock festival) or in spring when the flowers are blooming (coincides with the annual Flower Festival). If you like snow, Wolmyeongdong has a deep winter with abundant snowfall.
From Incheon Airport, you have to drive down to Daejeon and then to Geumsan. If you search for 월명동 수련원 in Google Maps or Naver Maps, then you will be able to find a route that leads directly there. There is a parking lot before the guard house that is free. Once you park, you will have to hike a bit up past the guard house before reaching the entrance where the lake is, but the path up is great if you go during spring or autumn. Along the path are various trees and flowers. One path is for pedestrians and the other path is for cars that have special permits.
From Daejeon to Wolmyeongdong, it takes about an hour drive.
You can take the express bus from Incheon Airport to the intercity bus terminal in Daejeon. From there, you can take the 105 intercity bus to Geumsan but get off at Majeon. From Majeon, there is a regular shuttle that runs from the front of a nearby church that CGM owns to Wolmyeongdong. You will be dropped off in front of the guard house.
Alternatively, you can also take the public transit from Daejeon city to Jinsan and hike up to Wolmyeongdong through Apseob Valley. From Daejeon, you'll need to get to the 34 intercity bus that goes directly to Jinsan. The time it takes using this route is a little longer (an hour and a half to two hours) than if you went by express bus or car, but it is much cheaper (₩5000 round trip if you have an public transit card).
Fees and permits
Wolmyeongdong Park is open 24/7 and is free. If you are not a member of CGM, you need to apply first on their website before entering. If you want to park directly in Wolmyeongdong, you will need a special permit to pass the guard house.
Once you are in Wolmyeongdong, every area can be reached by foot. There are some paths that cars can drive through, but for the best experience, going by foot is recommended. There are hiking trails and walking trails of varying difficulties that lead to great viewpoints. Within the main part of Wolmyeongdong, which extends from the entrance to the lawn sanctuary and the Culture Center, there is a sports field that is surrounded by natural image rocks and rock landscapes. Next to the sports field is the lake and the Holy Son's House of Love, where you can buy souvenirs and snacks.
- Observation Point
- The observation point is on Chestnut hill that is a moderate to difficult 10 minutes hike (due to steepness, but with paved and dirt roads) from the entrance of Wolmyeongdong. There are benches to rest and to view the center of Wolmyeongdong from this vantage point.
- Donggurae Pavilion
- The Dongurae (Circle) Pavilion is an easy to moderate 15-minute hike from the entrance of Wolmyeongdong, past the main lawn and on the hill of Donggurae (and hence its name). This pavilion is popular because it is easy to access for most visitors. It is on the way to the Gamran Mountain Pavilion and Gooki Peak.
- Lake Pavilion
- This is the largest of the pavilions in Wolmyeongdong, with pillars of a circumference of more than 6 ft (1.8 m). It is entirely made without nails, by using only wooden carpentry to connect the roof to the pillars and the base. Through a bridge that spans from the edge of the lake into the middle of the lake, you can walk across to the bottom of the pavilion. Visitors should remove their shoes to preserve the cleanliness of the pavilion. It is a relaxing and tranquil spot for prayer, praise and meditation. You can also access to free wifi from this location.
- Rooftop of the Holy Son's House of Love
- The Holy Son's House of Love was designed from the exterior to look like a pulpit, and its rooftop is open air and faces the entire heart of Wolmyeongdong. It is an easy 5-minute hike from the entrance, and there are elevators in the building too.
- Gamran (Olive) Mountain Pavilion
- The Gamran Mountain pavilion sits on the peak of Gamran mountain and offers a view of Wolmyeongdong and the surrounding mountains, to include the largest mountain in the region - Daedun mountains. It can only be accessed by hiking for approximately 30 minutes from the Lake Pavilion. The hike is of an easy-moderate difficulty of about 1.6 km (1 mile) one-way on a clear dirt path lined with trees and views of the areas.
- Gooki (Flag) Peak
- The Gooki Peak is the furthest peak within Wolmyeongdong and takes about an hour to hike (one-way) from the Lake Pavilion. You will past by the Gamran Mountain pavilion midway in this hiking journey and travellers would usually visit both places in one trip. Along the way, there are numerous scenic spots where you can view the surrounding mountain ranges. The hike is of a moderate-high difficulty of about 3.2 km (2 miles) one way. Be sure to allow enough time before the sunset (2 hours) when you start this hike because there is no artificial lighting on the trails.
These rocks are found near the lawn and lake areas of Wolmyeongdong.
- Tiger Boulder
- A tiger shaped natural boulder that is about 7 feet long. This is located near the sports field next to the lake.
- Holy Son Boulder
- A 104-ton natural boulder with various images from different angles including God, the Holy Spirit, Holy Son, Cheetah, F-4 phantom plane, Holy Son's foot.
- Elephant Boulder
- A unique elephant shaped natural boulder that must be viewed from one angle to see a distinct elephant shape. Previously known as the Toad rock.
- Camel Boulder
- A huge natural rock formation that is still embedded in the ground but has been exposed by excavation. It resembles two large camels.
- Art Appreciation at Gusang (Design) Museum
- The museum houses seasonal and permanent exhibits of various artists from Christian Gospel Mission, including the works of founding Pastor Jung. The museum can be self-guided or guided by the staff. You begin with an introductory video about Wolmyeongdong played in a viewing room. You may then proceed to a permanent exhibit which traces the history of Wolmyeongdong with pictures and narration. This exhibit also has a life-size wax statue of Jesus. Next, is the seasonal painting section which contains over 30 large and small paintings, including the award winning "Destiny" artwork (at Buenos Aires Arteclasica 2011) by Pastor Jung. These paintings are changed seasonally and the paintings here are also exhibited at international exhibits annually. It is followed by a pottery art collection display with over 20 types of fine pottery with paintings on them. Next, there is a natural rock art display exhibit which houses many natural rocks with various images, like a nun, a cheetah, elephant, a soldier. This section displays God's own artwork through nature. Finally, there is a gift shop that sells copies of various artwork and paintings. Next to the gift shop is a tea-house where you can rest and have various types of tea and healthy snacks.
- Cave exploration
- There are various cave that are open during the non-winter seasons for exploration. These caves are used by CGM members for prayer as well. They include the Dalbat-gol and Chon-dog-gol, which are accessible by hiking about 30 minutes from the lawn.
- There is also a small man-made cave with natural spring water that is located in between the lawn and the sports field. It is easily accessed and is popular for those who do not wish to climb hills to reach the natural caves.
- Hiking on the back trails
- Hiking is one of the most popular activities here, with numerous back trails linking like a network all around Wolmyeongdong. The paths wind through forests of pine trees, mountains, valleys, and linked to caves, pavilions, and scenic viewpoints.
- The sports field in Wolmyeongdong is big enough for it to be used as a soccer field with international regulations.
- Volleyball, Tennis, or Soccer Tennis
- There are portable volleyball poles that can be adjusted to play either volleyball, tennis, or soccer tennis.
- Snow sledding down the lawn (winter only)
- Bring your own sleds and sled for free down the lawn. There are no ski lifts, but it is an easy hike up to the top of the lawn for a fast-paced (and safe) sledding experience down to the sports field.
- Gift shop at Gusang Museum
- You can buy copies of artwork and paintings, as well as greeting cards, jewelry, ties, shirts (with imprinted artwork). Their opening hours are M-Sa from 09:00 to 17:00, with a lunch break.
- Myung Shop at the Holy Son's House of Love
- The Myung shop sells music produced by CGM, poems and proverb books written by Pastor Jung Myeong Seok. There is also a big ice-cream collection, as well as non-alcoholic drinks, and various types of packet food (Udon, Ramen, etc) that can be cooked with the hot water provided.
- Snacks at Myung Shop
- The Myung Shop in the Holy Son's House of Love sells a variety of snacks, ice creams, and drinks.
- Tea Cafe
- A tea cafe next to the Gusang Museum sells baked goods, such as muffins, bread, etc.
- Pancake Shop
- In front of the lake, there is a Ho-dduk House that sells Ho-dduk (Korean version of sweet pancakes) and Odeng (fish cakes). Once in a while, Smile Bread sells bread made from rice.
- Dining Hall
- In the Holy Son's house of love, there is a dining hall that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily for ₩4000 per meal.
- Canned or bottled beverages
- If you want convenience store type drinks, then you can go to the souvenir shop in the Holy Son's House of Love. You can get anything from Pocari Sweat (similar to Powerade) to juice or milk.
- Lattes, tea, smoothies
- IThe cafe behind the Culture Center called Gusang Cafe sells lattes, smoothies, and teas there.
- Joo Saeng-Myeong Motel (주생명 연수원), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. This is an inn that has been specifically created for foreigners who are visiting Wolmyeongdong about 15 min away (shuttle bus provided by the hour). It was bought and then renovated from between August to December 2013. The rooms are all Korean-style, so there are no beds, just mats and pillows to sleep on. However, each room has its own shower room, but you need to bring your own towel, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. Amenities include: air-conditioning, floor heating, blankets, pillows, public kitchen, washing machines (₩3000/$3), and Wi-Fi. ₩20,000 for a double room (₩5,000/extra person, up to 4).
- White Castle Motel (화이트캐슬 부암리), 138-1 Buam-ri, Jinsan-myeon, Geumsan, Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea, ☎ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. This is a popular motel used by visitors to Wolmyeongdong who seek a more comfortable night stay. It is about 15 min drive from Wolmyeongdong (Wolmyeongdong shuttle bus will pass by too). ₩20,000 for a double room.
- Camping or campfires are not allowed in Wolmyeongdong due to fire safety but visitors are free to roam the park overnight.
- When the weather gets warmer in the spring and summer, mountain fires can start so you have to be careful when hiking around in Wolmyeongdong.
- Although many of the snakes have been caught and weeded out from Wolmyeongdong, some do appear occasionally, so you should be careful while hiking. If you keep to the trails, you should be fine.
- There are also bees, but any place that has something you should worry about will be marked and a barrier will be created.
- Daedun Mountain
- Visitors commonly visit the nearby Daedun Mountains which can be reached by hiking about 2 hours, or 15 min by car.
- Geumsan Town
- The town is famous for Ginseng trading and sells cheap ginseng products. It also holds an annual international ginseng expo. The town is about 20 minutes drive from Wolmyeongdong.
- Daejeon is the 5th largest city in South Korea, with a population of approximately 1.5 million. South Daejeon is about 30 minutes drive from Wolmyeongdong.