Wolmido Island is a small island, just 0.7 sq. km, off the coast of the Chinatown section of Incheon. It has been home to soot-spewing industry giants, a U.S. military base, and it was the site of napalm bombings and the landing of U.S. and South Korean Marines in 1950 to retake Seoul after the ROK’s capital and been conquered by North Korea.
Now, it’s the site of Incheon’s best seaside theme park, and the rocky coastline along the boardwalk is a popular place for old folks to go fishing and for young folks to shoot off fireworks.
I visited there while staying the night in the Incheon area in preparation for a trip to Baeknyeong Island today.
Within the first 2 months of the war, South Korean and United Nations forces (mostly consisting of U.S.) were pushed back to the southeastern area around Busan. Nearly driven off the island, Gen. Douglas MacArthur planned an audacious operation to take back Seoul and catch North Korea off guard. He planned the landing of 75,000 troops on 261 ships on Incheon and then retook Seoul within 10 days. In preparation for the landing, the U.S. Army bombed Wolmido for 5 days.
There were three landing locations. The first landing took place at the Green Beach (photographed above), which was located on Wolmido island itself. Next, Regimental Combat Team 5 landed on the Red Beach, which was on the Korean mainland north of Wolmido, and they secured the causeway to allow the troops accumulating on the island to advance.
I filmed a video at the site of the Red Beach:
Army Base and Wolmi Park
The U.S. cleared the homes of some of the 600 people who lived on Wolmi Island before the landing. Some hundreds of residents are said to have died in the preparatory bombings. The island had been occupied by North Korean forces, and the UN and ROK needed to clear the path for the landings, which were necessary to defend the freedom and sovereignty of South Korea. It was a brutal war all around, but that is part of the history of Wolmi Island.
Afterwards, the U.S. Army set up a base where a village used to stand. The base was closed and relocated, and in 2001 it became a park.
Just across the park is the Play Hill theme park. The most interesting ride is what is called “Apollo Disco,” where riders sit and grab onto the railing or try to stand as they are bounded and spun around.
Wolmi Island is located 1 km down an industry-lined causeway from Incheon Station, the last stop on subway line 1. There’s a monorail, the Wolmido Sea Train, operating sometimes.
I just walked there. Watch: