On our way back to the tour bus after a short hike, my attention was (almost subconsciously) drawn towards an area of scrub extending back into the hill we were parked next to. There was something I couldn’t quite place about the pattern of trees, wild grasses and clearings, but as the faded colours resolved into old machines and branches into rusted metal I realised we’d stumbled across that Mecca of urban explorers and Miyazaki fans – an abandoned amusement park.
The sign at the entrance proclaimed it to be 백암산랜드 (Baek am san raen deu; Hundred Rocky Peaks Land and by a quirk of homophones also Hundred Mental Arithmetic Sums Land), isolated on a rural site which I would have extreme difficulty finding again somewhere near the coastal town of Uljin (울진).
Our guides allowed us a mere ten minutes to explore, and so we were forced to race around at breakneck speed, only scratching the merest surface. The car park had been appropriated for an area for local farmers to dry and thresh rice, and a flock of goats watched us warily from the safety of some bushes as we tried to decide where to go. I took off up the hill, passing a few defunct rides and buildings, and paused at the bottom of a gently sloping meadow that was once a sledge run. The path wound farther back into the hills, taunting me with its hidden relics as I turned back at the sound of shouting from the bus.