An extreme sport is a term for activities thought of as having a high level of inherent danger. These activities often involve speed, height, a high level of physical exertion, and highly specialized gear or spectacular stunts. Popular extreme sports are snow boarding, rock climbing, skydiving, mountain biking, SCUBA Diving, and bungee jumping. All of which, can be done in Korea. In fact, just 20 minutes from Gangnam is Yuldong Park in Bundang and home to a 43m bungee jumping tower.
Bungee jumping involves leaping from a tall structure while connected to a large elastic cord (the bungee cord). These are usually a building, bridge or crane; but it is also possible to jump from other objects like hot-air-balloons or helicopters. At Yuldong Park, a large tower has been erected with two jumping platforms positioned over a lake. When an individual jumps, the cord stretches until the fall is broken. Then, the jumper recoils into the air again. This takes place over and over again until all the kinetic energy from the fall has been dissipated.
While modern Bungee Jumping originated in the late 1970s, its roots date back far earlier. David Attenborough managed to film “land divers” on Pentecost Island (Vanuatu). These young men jumped from tall wooden platforms with vines tied to their ankles in a test of courage and passage into manhood. A similar practice that dates back to the age of the Aztecs occurred with the Danza de los Voladores de Papantla or the “Papantla flyers” of central Mexico. Today, jumping is seen more of a diversion from the ordinary.
If you’ve ever been curious about bungee jumping, this is your opportunity to give it a shot. Take the new Shinbundang Line from Gangnam station all the way to its terminal end at Jeongja Station. The ride takes only 16 minutes. From there, hail a cab, the fastest way to Yuldong Park. The cab ride is a mere 5-10 minutes and is about W5000. From the parking lot, follow the marked path to the bungee jumping (분기점프) platform. After paying W25,000 (cash only), your personal belongings are placed in a locker and are directed to a scale. This calculates your weight so the operators know which of the two bungee cords to use.
From here, jumpers are escorted to the elevator. When the doors close, the car begins climbing to the jumping platform. It moves at an incredibly slow pace. Through the small windows, you can see the ground slip away and after what seems like 10 minutes the doors open once more. An operator checks your weight and then motions you to the edge of the platform. It’s here that one realizes that the man behind you is affixing a giant rubber band to your back and you’re about jump. This is your last opportunity to back out. The next step is one giant leap.
Gingerly stepping to the edge, you’re given the instructions to jump hard and outwards on the count of three (or four). One (for the money)… Two (for the show)… Three (to get ready)… and Four (to gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!).
Jumping off the platform, you instantly begin plummeting downwards. Fear creeps in as the water below becomes bigger. Will the cord hold? Then, in slow motion, your fall is broken and once more you’re launched back into the air. The process repeats several times until finally being lowered into a small raft and taken ashore.
Bungee jumping isn’t for everyone – especially those afraid of heights. In fact, even if you have no fear, jumping off the platform is a little unnerving. But if you have the courage, then bungee jumping is a most excellent experience.
Phone: +82-31-704-6266 (Korean), +82-31-1330 (Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese)
Address: Gyeonggi-do Seongnam-si Bundang-gu Yul-dong
Hours: 10am – 5 pm, but call ahead for current hours, as they change during the seasons. The facility is open every day; however, weekends and peak seasons are busy and only a limited number of jumps take place. First come, first serve.
Cost: W25,000 per person (ages 15-50, 40-120kg)