Interested in walking in the footsteps of North Korean commandos? Try hiking to the top of Seoul's Bukak-san one of the city's highest peaks, and the scene of a fierce gun battle between Kim Il Sung's élite troops, who had managed to infiltrate the very heart of the southern capital, and South Korean soldiers, who stopped them from assassinating then President Park Chung Hee in his official digs at the foot of the wooded slopes.
Bukak-san was recently opened to the public after decades of military control. Back in 1968, the failed assassins probably crawled on their hands and knees through gnarled pine forest to escape detection. Today, the 1,120-ft (342-m) climb parts of which go along Seoul's ancient fortress wall is still a slog, but the commanding views of the city and surrounding mountains are worth it. Some of the sights like razor wire, bullet-scarred trees and patrolling soldiers reveal that this is not exactly your typical hike.
Bukak-san is a 10-minute taxi ride from downtown Seoul. But there is one caveat: foreigners must file a written application with the Cultural Heritage Administration, www.ocp.go.kr, at least one week in advance in order to schedule their time on the trails.
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