Okpo Land was once one of Asia’s most famous amusement parks but in May 1999, it closed overnight, becoming an abandoned eyesore, decaying in the hills overlooking the nearby city.
Located on the outskirts of Okpo on Geoje Island in South Korea, Okpo Land was hugely popular with families right up until it’s closure in questionable circumstances. It attracted visitors from Asia and beyond, a beneficiary of South Korea’s expanding tourism industry following the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.
Because of its proximity to the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering shipyard, Okpo has quite an affluent population. Most live in high-rise apartment buildings and the area has a large expat community, with workers coming from all over the globe. Okpo Land was hugely popular among the local population when it opened, ideal entertainment for those with high levels of disposable income like the shipyard employees.
The duck-themed ride, which was one of the main attractions in the park, is known to have caused at least one fatality in the early 1990’s. A train derailed and fell to the ground, killing one and injuring several others. The ride lived on and no compensation or apology was received, giving rise to rumours about the owner paying off local officials. In 1999, the ride claimed its second life. Again, one of the trains derailed and capsized causing the death of a young girl. Following the accident, the park’s owner vanished overnight and Okpo Land was closed immediately and indefinitely.
Okpo Land remained abandoned following its closure with the rides left in place. Hauntingly, the capsized duck train from which the child plummeted to her death in 1999 remained hanging over the edge as it had done on that tragic day until the park began to be demolished in 2011.
The following is from an English teacher living nearby –
The theme park itself was designed like much of Korea :: build it small, build it dense, and make it mediocre. None of the rides were great, but they weren’t completely rubbish either. And just like architecture in much of Asia, all rides were built one on top of the other, quite literally in fact. The rocket ship you see in the last few of the photos is above another ride. Both, were built inside the tracks of the sky-bike ride, which is an efficient use of space. The rides Okpo Land could claim were :: a swinging Viking ride (of course), a carousel, a roller coaster, a spinning rocket ship ride with a smaller ride below, bumper cars, some sort of virtual reality motion simulator, and a few buildings which most likely housed some games, noraebangs, and restrooms. In addition to the rides on the campus of Okpo Land, there was also a building that housed an indoor swimming pool and sauna.
This is one of the sole surviving videos from when Okpo Land was open. The quality is poor but it gives a sense of what the park was like and how densely the rides were packed.