One of the newest stations in the Seoul metro system, National Police Hospital Station was built right next to, you guessed it, the National Police Hospital (국립경찰병원), a hulking off-white brick building looking out over the intersection near Exit 1. A sign near its driveway says ‘ONE-STOP 지원센터 (support center)’ which makes it sound more like an electronics repair shop than a hospital, but whatever.
Some government agencies (the Korean Radio Promotion Agency, the Korean Internet Development Agency) occupy places in the office building across Jangjidong-gil (장지동길), but otherwise the area across the street and behind the hospital is a very typical middle-class neighborhood – lots of office-tels with chain stores, nail shops, and flower boutiques lining the first floors.
On the same side of Jungdae-ro (중대로), but out Exit 2, you’ll find Garak Park (가락공원) on a tall hill. A rubber walking path winds through some trees, circling around three badminton courts nestled in a basin below. You’ll see the mandatory exercise machines, and you might even come across, as I did, a dozen ajeosshis day-drinking and playing some type of game while a green pyramid of soju and makkeoli bottles pile up beneath a nearby sapling.
You’ll find another neighborhood park, the smaller Geonneomal Park (건너말공원), if you take the first left (Jangjidong-gil) out of Exit 4 and then, just after the big glassy Maria Fertility Hospital, hang a right on Song-i-ro-26-gil (송이로26길).
If you see the restaurant with the giant crab and the rusty hull of a ship above the entrance you’ll know you’re on the right track.
The park is nothing terribly special but it does have a pleasant, though modest, rose garden of red, pink, and yellow blossoms. You’ll also find a dirt badminton and basketball court and some colorful playground equipment in the northeast corner where a few kids were getting in a screechy argument when I happened by.
If you skip the park and continue southeast on Jangjidong-gil you’ll eventually come to the big intersection with Dongnam-ro (동남로). Turn right here and you’re on Munjeong Rodeo Street (문정로데오길), another one of the city’s so-called Rodeo Streets.
Of course, it’s lined with clothing stores and outlets: Basic House, Fila, Calvin Klein, Zara, Nike, blah, blah, blah.
Just before leaving I went to take a look at the area outside of Exit 3, not expecting much since it’s mostly apartment buildings, but almost immediately outside the exit was a sign advertising one of my favorite and most missed things in the world: jerk chicken, something I have never, ever seen in Seoul. Indeed the name of the restaurant, tucked on an anonymous upper floor of an anonymous office building, was simply Jerk Chicken (저크치킨). I didn’t go in. Why on earth, if my love for jerk chicken is as true as I claim it is, did I not go in? Although the advertisement said ‘Caribbean Style Jerk Chicken,’ the picture below it was just of a plate of generic fried chicken. Not even a hint of jerk spice. Had I been feeling braver, I might have ventured in. But as it stood on that day, I’ve just had my heart broken too many times here by foods that promise authenticity and then go and do something like put corn where the good Lord never intended corn to go. Better, I thought, to live with a beautiful illusion than to risk heartbreak. Am I wrong? Readers, has anyone eaten there and found it’s the real thing?
National Police Hospital (국립경찰병원)
Garak Park (가락공원)
Geonneomal Park (건너말공원)
Left on Jangjidong-gil (장지동길), right on Song-i-ro-26-gil (송이로26길)
Munjeong Rodeo Street (문정로데오길)
Left on Jangjidong-gil (장지동길), right on Dongnam-ro (동남로)
Jerk Chicken (저크치킨)