Hanam City Logo

Hanam City

Swing by Seoul's eastern satallite and one of the first capitals along the Han River.

Hanam City (하남시; Hanam-si) is satellite cities of Seoul (서울특별시; Seoul-si). First established in 1989, the city closely ties itself to the capital, borrowing many resources, including a subway (Line 5; 5호선) and commuter train (Gyeongui–Jungang Line; 경의·중앙선).

The Stats
Hanam City​

Bike Paths

The Hangang Bicycle Path runs along the northern border Hanam. It crosses into the city from the eastern district of Gangdong (강동구; Gangdong-gu) in Seoul.

The bike path crawls along the bottom section of the Han River (한강; Hangang) until Paldang Bridge (팔당대교). The path then crosses north and into Namyangju City (남양주시; Namyangju-si).

Hangang Bike path and Lotte Tower.
Just beyond Seoul lies Hanam. Follow the Hangang Bicycle Path eastward. You can't miss it!

History

Hanam’s history spans from the birth of Korea’s three ancient kingdoms until today.

The Old Capital

Along with the eastern parts of Seoul — Songpa (송파구) and Gangdong — Hanam hosted one of the first major settlements on the Han River: Wiryeseong (위례성).

Wiryeseong was the capital of the Kingdom of Baekje (백제; 18 BCE ~ 660 ACE). For over six centuries, the kingdom ruled a southwestern chunk of the peninsula.

The Namesake

Today’s Hanam City borrows its name from Hanam Wiryeseong (하남위례성). That’s a long name. Let’s unpack it.

  • “Han” (한) refers to the River.
  • “Nam” (남) translates to south.
  • “Wirye” (위례) might refer to either the Han River or an old name for the Baekjae.
  • “Seong” (성) means fortress or castle.

Battlegrounds

Wiryeseong (하남위례성)? Seong (성)? Like a castle? Yes.

The old Baekjae capital built several fortifications near present day Hanam and eastern Seoul. 

Why? Some said whoever controlled the Han River controlled Korea. The river provided access to the interior of the peninsula and to the largest trading partner in the region, China. Hence, the waterway saw centuries of battle between three kingdoms.

First, the Goguryeo (고구려; 37 BCE ~ 668 ACE) drove south and took the Baekje’s capital in 475. Then, in 660, the Kingdom of Silla (신라; 57 BCE ~ 935 ACE) allied with Baekje to resist.

Baekje and Silla pushed Goguryeo back north, and Baekje reclaimed some territory. However, three years later, Silla and China’s Tang Dynasty combined forces. They conquered both Baekjae and Goguryeo’s territory, uniting the Korean peninsula for the first time.

Lost Capital

The Kingdom of Silla moved the capital of the newly unified Korea to present day Gyeongju (경주) in southwest Korea.

While settlements persisted in the Han River basin, people and time abandoned Baekje’s old capital, Wiryeseong.

Economy

Hanam Union Tower welcomes you to the city of Hanam and the rest of Korea.
Hanam Union Tower welcomes you to the city of Hanam.

From the 1960s to the 2000s, Seoul’s economic fortunes accelerated. Industries grew. Towers rose. A middle class amassed.

However, Seoul swelled to capacity. And by the 1990s, land and apartments became unaffordable. Residents leaked into Gyeonggi Province. Satellite cities like Incheon (인천시) and Suwon (수원시) ballooned.

Enter Hanam. In 1989, a few towns and counties combined to create the city with a population of 100,000 people.

In 2010, the city hit the economic gas. To catch fleeing Seoulites they developed several districts with new apartments and commercial areas. By 2020, the city tripled its residents to almost 300,000.

Mountains on both sides of the Han River surround Hanam. In fact, mountains and green space cover 77% of city.

Geography

Hanam sits in the northern-middle of South Korea. Along the northern and western edge of Hanam wraps the Han River. To the west lies the metropolitan behemoth of Seoul. To the south?

Mountain Mania

The “city” part of Hanam takes up only 23% of its total territory. Most of its citizens, buildings and infrastructure nestles in the northern tip, against the Han River.

What about the other 77%? Groups of mighty peaks rise below downtown Hanam.

  • Namhan Mountain (남한산, Namhansan) climbs 522 meters (1,509 feet) directly south of downtown Hanam. It is home to Namhansan Fortress (남한산성; Namhansanseong), one of Korea’s oldest, best preserved military installations.
  • Geumam (금암산, Geumamsan 321 m) and Gaek (객산; Gaeksan; 292 m) Mountains sit between Namhan Mountain and downtown Hanam. They rise 321 meters (1,053 feet) and 292 meters (958 feet) respectively.
  • Geomdan Mountain (검단산; Geomdansan) is the tallest peak in Hanam. It elevates to 658 meters (2,159 feet)

Most of these mountains remain green, untouched. In them you can find temples, fortresses, and a few cultural artifacts.

Weirye Riverside Road

The Han River from Paldang Bridge (팔당대교) in the City of Hanam.
The Han River from Paldang Bridge (팔당대교) in the City of Hanam.

With all that nature to the south, Hanam didn’t need to create more parks. Right? Wrong.

The city added recreational spaces to their downtown by developing Weirye Riverside Road (위례 강변길). Like the Hangang Park system in Seoul, the recreational space stretches the length of the Han River in Hanam.

Not only does Weirye Riverside Road hold a section of the Hangang Bicycle Path, it includes a tree orphanage, riverside parks, and waves of springtime cherry blossoms and picnic-goers.