There is a small abandoned theme park in Seoul, South Korea, with a quieted carousel, bleached-out images of ’80s pop icons, and “dodgem” cars that have long-since quit dodging. But unlike most amusement parks that have gone idle, this one invites the public to share in its slow crumble.
Yongma Land was built in 1980, and had a fairly solid run as a small family-oriented amusement park. By 2011 tastes had moved on, and with attendance dwindling it closed down. Despite stories of a haunting or two, the root of its demise was likely just a matter of profit, when the construction of several, much larger and better located, theme parks lured the thrill-seekers away.
Now in the hands of an enterprising local businessman, the old Yongma Land is open again, but this time to revel in the poignant charm of its decay. For a small charge of 5000 won (about $5, a bit more for professionals) visitors are free to roam the old rides, no fence-jumping needed. And, for 30,000 won, the owner will turn on the lights of the ghostly merry-go-round for you after 8:00 pm.
The fading colors and jumbled figures have proven attractive for musicians and other artists too, inspiring several K-pop videos (most notably Crayon Pop’s “Bar Bar Bar” video) and other photo shoots. With piles of dodgem (or bumper) cars, a rusting octopus ride, a Viking ship, and a displaced clown-motif roller coaster, there is still plenty of carney magic to inspire even amateur photographers.