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Whatever Happened to Snow Castle?

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We first spotted Snow Castle while doing a little aerial reconnaissance of our neighborhood on Google Maps. A big, curvy building on the end of Hwangryungsan mountain? Interesting… and what’s that shape on the ground? [zoom] Is that a… [zoom]… yes that’s definitely a giant skier in front of the hall.

Snow Castle Busan

A little further research (ie: switching from Google Maps to Google Search) revealed that this was Snow Castle: an indoor ski slope which opened in 2007. Awesome! It’s been years since we hit the slopes, and now we had a ski hall in our neighborhood. Not comparable to a snowy mountain resort in the Alps, by any means, but whatever. Skiing with Koreans in a giant golden building during the middle of summer definitely wins on bizarro-points.

It was a grey, rainy day that we chose to visit Snow Castle and, upon arriving, all of our optimism and excitement vanished. There were no people, here. No cars. No discernible sign of human life. Just encroaching weeds, rubbish and a clammy sense of dread. Up in the woods of sparsely populated Mt. Hwangryungsan, the abandoned Snow Castle complex looked like the kind of place a well-organized and ambitious clan of serial killers might call home.

Closed Snow Castle

But what happened? Snow Castle had obviously been a major investment… there’s a giant fake waterfall in the plaza, a three-story parking garage and stone engravings of skiers and snowboarders lining the road in. The park only opened in 2007, but looks as though it’s been shuttered for ten years, not five. We circled the giant building, peering into windows and doors left curiously ajar, but weren’t able to find any clues. And when a cat jumped out of the undergrowth, scaring the bejeezus out of us, we decided to leave.

Snow Castle still appears on VisitKorea’s list of things to do in Busan, and we can’t find any information as to the reason for its closure. Someone told us that Koreans don’t like to focus on failures, or even acknowledge them. Maybe that’s the case here, too.

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June 11, 2012 at 8:30 am
4 comments »
  • June 12, 2012 at 10:49 amAlex

    That lost and found box is tragic! Does that open door suggest that someone could go inside and look around?

    • June 13, 2012 at 12:07 amJuergen

      We could have gone inside but it felt too much of the beginning of a Korean Gore Movie! Even though I was very tempted to take pictures inside.

      When we left there was some kind of guard near the main entrance. We saw him but he didn’t see us, not sure how we would have explained what we were doing there.
  • June 12, 2012 at 11:46 pmJoshua

    The story behind Snow Castle is tragic…The person who was in charge of handling the investment money had skipped town and country with all the money. She was eventually found, but money not to be….She is currently in prison and the establishment, due to lack of (stolen) funds, had to shut down. That’s as much as I know. I have lived here since 2008 and it has never been open. I have proposed to many people that they should convert it to an ice rink. It wouldn’t be hard to fill in the daily time slots as the other rinks in Busan are always fully booked and turn down many skaters for ice time. Our hockey team can’t even get ice time here so we have to go to Ulsan. However, Korean people have told me that the place is owned privately so it’s not likely that that will happen.

    • June 13, 2012 at 12:03 amJuergen

      Thank you for the information. We couldn’t find any information why the snow castle was in this state! We would have loved to go inside to take pictures (one of the doors was open) but was waaay to creepy!

      +1 for the idea to at least turn it into an ice rink!

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