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Introducing Incheon

Incheon, a bustling, industrial port 36km west of Seoul, is big enough to warrant its own subway line. The international airport sits on an offshore island, so be sure (if you’re heading to the airport) that you don’t go to Incheon proper. Instead, take a direct bus from Seoul. (A subway service is scheduled to open in late 2007.) The city has a nice waterfront area with amusement rides, sushi shops, stores and ferries, as well as a very accessible Chinatown right opposite the Line 1 Incheon terminus. Come here for a great day trip out of Seoul, sample some different foods, stroll along with the dating couples or tour groups in Wolmido waterfront, or use Incheon as a skipping stone to the more remote islands.

Incheon became briefly famous in 1950 when the American General Douglas MacArthur led UN forces in a daring landing there behind enemy lines. Military experts doubted that such a tactic could succeed, but it did and within a month the North Koreans were all but defeated. The tide turned again in November of the same year when large numbers of Chinese troops stormed across the border.

Today the Chinese are still crossing the sea to South Korea, though now they have tourist or business visas. Incheon is a cosmopolitan city with docks full of container ships and giant cranes. It has its own metropolitan government, is not part of Gyeonggi-do and has its own telephone code. Ganghwado and other West Sea islands are also part of the Incheon municipality.