I felt somewhat out of place, but I couldn’t put my finger on the reason why, as the Namsan Cable Car took off and the journey to the top of N Seoul Tower begun.
Around me I was being stared at – something I had become accustomed to having been in Asia for over a month now – but there was something else, a feeling like I was almost intruding.
Trudging up the stairs towards the tower realisation hit – I was the only person not part of a couple. The guys were all gently guiding their girlfriends up the snow covered paths, or acting as a safety net for those who were doning high heels – not the smartest footwear in the snowy minus-degree weather. Other girls posing playfully as their boyfriends happily snapped photos on their phones or camera.
N Seoul Tower is a romantic pilgrimage for those couples who wish to declare their eternal love, much akin to that of the Pont de l’Archevêché in Paris; But unlike the governments in Paris, New York and other cities where love locks are presently cut down, N Seoul Tower actively encourage people to leave locks in specially designated areas – even going as far to commission metal trees and hearts for this purpose – where now thousands of love locks spreading a message of love are scattered around the base of the tower.
As couples braved the cold to gaze at the love locks hand in hand, or scribble their messages of love ready to affix to the railings, I felt a little pang of jealously. Travelling solo was fun but in places like this sometimes I just wanted another person to share the moment with and perhaps place our own love lock.
It wasn’t long until I was distracted and smiling again when one overly zealous young Korean man made it his mission to take photos with every girl present at the tower that day, boyfriend in tow or not!
Love locks of all shapes and sizes were affixed around there. Made from genuine locks, some where made from mobile phone covers or scraps of paper. Curiously there was a chopping board with a message of love, a sock, and also a spoon…. though in my opinion the best locks were ones with photos on them.
I was also delighted to see a ‘condom’ lock… that’s right ladies and gents, the message of practicing safe sex with your beloved is alive and well in Seoul.
The messages of the love locks also varied. Some stressed the love of the family whilst others were between boyfriend and girlfriend, pledging to be together forever. Some were slightly sadder, wishing for a date from their beloved, and then there was a very curious looking Mexican cat – pet love perhaps?
Another neat features of N Seoul Tower are the heart chairs. The heart-shaped chaires feature leaning edges to help you get closer to that certain someone and many couples did make good use of it.
If people didn’t have love locks they scribbled their messages of love on the chair itself, making it a cute, multi-purpose feature.
With love locks around the world, one of the biggest problems that governments and cities have is that the lovers then throw the keys away – often off hillsides or into water causing environmental problems – to ensure no one finds the key to unlock the padlocks, meaning that their love won’t endure. To combat this N Seoul Tower have come up with a helpful but charitable option.
Couples can leave their keys in the Postbox of Love after locking-up and part of the revenue from the keys collected in the postbox is donated to underprivileged children, the perfect campaign to spread the love around South Korea!
Have you and your special someone left a love lock somewhere special?
105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 용산구 남산공원길 105 (용산동2가)
Admission: The love locks are located outside N Seoul Tower and are free to see.
If you wish to go into the observatory it costs ￦9,000 (AUD$8/GBP£5.30) for adults and ￦5,000 (AUD$4.40/GBP£2.95) for children. Additional discounts can be found here.
There is also a fee to ride the Namsan Cable Car or for a bus to the peak where the Tower is located.