On Friday, I went to Namsan with Sarah. This is a very popular summit as it is close to the city. We left Seoul station via exit 11 and followed the signs to Namsan Park. There is a cable car to the top, but we elected to walk to get some exercise in the 30 degree humid air (why?). At the top, there is really nowhere to set up a decent antenna. This is because the area is full of people and access is restricted to the paved or decked area. I could not see anywhere to put up the EFHW for HF out of the way of people. I had a listen on the loaded vertical and all HF bands had S9 noise levels. There are many radio transmitters on the site so was not suprised about the noise. 2 metres also had S9 noise levels, but I did manage a contact with DS1IWR on 145 FM despite some language difficulties. I called for a bit longer but no further contacts were made! I was feeling a little conspicuous as there were lots of people around (Sarah had already disowned me), so decided to call it off and do some touristy things. The views from Namsan are terrific.
A few days later we decided to hike to Inwangsan, HL/SL-004. We followed some directions from the SOTA summits database and left from Gyeogbokgung station. The walk is fairly steep although only a few km. There were many police stationed along the fortress wall as there is a military facility nearby. They were taking notes as we walked past. On arriving at the top, there were several police as well that were carefully watching the hikers.
Photography is not allowed on many parts of the walk and also from the summit, so we asked Police guy to take our photo, which he did. I got the FT-817 out of my pack and we had a broken english conversation about what I was doing and SOTA. I showed them my licence and some SOTA information and they consulted another more senior guy and there was much discussion. They then advised that I could not use the radio, although if I wanted to, there was a spot further down where the radio could be used. Unfortunately, this spot was well out of the activation zone, so we smiled and headed back down the path. As they say, its about the journey! Still, the views were amazing and the mountains are very steep compared to back home.
Ansan also has fairly easy access from Seoul. After consulting the SOTA summits database and some links, we took the Subway to Dongnimmun station exit 5 and walked up with the prison to our right and the apartments to our left. This led us to a road where we walked up the hill and then took some steps on the right side of the road. We asked a group of hikers if this was the right way to Ansan. They were also heading to the summit, so we walked with them up the tracks. As it turned out they were a group of school principals and two were English teachers, so conversations was pretty easy.
There are several paths to the top and some signs with maps on the way. Once at the summit, I went to 2m and made two local contacts. After a bit more calling it looked like that was it, so I put up the HF vertical on 20m and even though it tuned nicely with expected band noise, there were hardly any signals to be heard. For some reason it was not possible to spot due to lack of phone service. 15m and 12m were also attempted, but again no signals to be heard except for some weak CW. Maybe I had just picked the wrong time of day. After a few calls on 20m, the others were getting hungry and suggested we leave and head back for some lunch which they had kindly invited us to. As it didnt look like there were more contacts to be had, I packed up and ran down to catch up with Sarah and the others. At least two contacts this time, but no qualified activation!
We had a nice lunch with the hiker group and learned all sorts of things about Seoul and Korean culture. I was thinking of going back and activating Ansan again, but we had too much to do in the following days.
This is probably the best summit to activate near Seoul as the foot traffic was lighter and there were a few spots to set up in the activation zone. The walk up is quite nice and sheltered in parts.