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Block40Osan
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Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:23 pm

About Spotting in Korea

Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:13 pm

Hello everybody! Hope you guys are doing well.

Recently, I've received a bunch of e-mails from a.net photographers about spotting at Seoul. Like 'when is the best season' or 'where to grab a nice shots'. Obviously, Many spotters around the world have been showing the interest on doing their hobby at the gateway of Korea. However here hasn't been a decent guide - or the updated guide - for doing the photography in Korea. I found most guides online is either outdated or wrong.

So I decided to post on a.net forum about spotting in Korea, especially with ICN/GMP.

As you guys know, Korea has been in a cease-fire status since 1953. Thus, spotting in Korea has been thought as something risky and hazardous.
Well I can say, at least spotting at ICN/GMP is no more considered as either espionage or crime since authorities are 'trying to' recognise the planespotting as a hobby. Situation is getting better from '12 after the huge contribution of Korean spotters' suggestion to IIAC has been made. But, It's still tough even for locals to get our hobby 'safely done' here, Nevertheless I'd like to help out every worldwide spotters who're interested in spotting at the gateway of Korea. Probably popularisation of spotting in Korea could result in making ICN/GMP as 'spotter accommodating' place!

Anyways, I'll list some of the most frequently asked questions here.

Q. When is the best season for plane spotting in Korea

A. I'd say, except for the March and April along with July & August, weather in Korea is usually very nice. Many of you will ask me why I excluded March to April from the list. That's because Spring is the season of Chinese dust and haze which TOTALLY ruins the quality of photo. Weather itself is very sunny during that period, but the haze will decrease the visibility thereby resulting in horrible pictures. Personally I favour September and October, when we get the highest chance of clear air and sunny days. Winter season is very tricky; If you can handle the freezing cold of Korea, it'll be a perfect season for takeoff shots, but otherwise, :D .

Q. Any special traffics?

A. Depends on what you want. Traffic here is almost the same all-year-round. Most of the traffics are KE, OZ and Korean LCCs and Chinese carriers. European and SE Asian carriers usually arrive in the morning whereas American carriers do it in the afternoon. Maybe DL/KL/UA 744 can be somewhat interesting along with KE/LH 748s.

Q. How's the security reacts to our hobby.

A. Apparently, as long as you don't get close to the airport fence it will be totally fine. Bring your ID card always with you, and be polite to them. They don't have the legal validity to arrest you (It's relaxing, Right? ;) ) but to continue the photography, do as what they say. But if they ask you to leave, you can insist your own right for photography since the chief security officer at Incheon Int'l allowed photographing planes without ANY irrational treatment of airport securities. I think SIN shows the most similar spotting condition when compared to ICN! So never worry too much. It should be fine.

Q. What lens would be best for spotting at ICN/GMP?

A. 70-300mm is totally enough for APS-C bodies. 100-400mm is more appreciated. Longer you have, better your photos are!

If you have more questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment or e-mail me. I'll be happy to assist you as much as I can.
And if you're visiting Korea during 21 July~09 August this year, I can actually join you and take you around some fabulous places here! So never hesitate to contact me for further assistance.

Best Regards,
Jamie Chang
 
jupiter2
Posts: 1739
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2001 11:30 am

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:47 am

Thank you for the info, I for one appreciate it. Looking to a potential visit as part of a Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong trip next year and any information gathered before hand is a bonus.
Is the spotting deck at GMP worth a visit ?
 
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Block40Osan
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Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:48 am

jupiter2 wrote:
Is the spotting deck at GMP worth a visit ?


Unfortunately, The answer is 'No'. As the opening time of the deck is 1000hrs, the time when the sun moves to the opposite side, you'll get a backlit shot for all-day long. Probably for summer season it'll be useful until 1100hrs when shooting a runway activity. However I can say, in winter the apron movement of Int'l terminal can be photographed without being backlit.

https://www.airliners.net/photo/Korean-A ... ER/2438350

This was taken at 1230hrs, in December 2013. Nice light for KE 772 right? haha
Feel free to ask more!
 
jupiter2
Posts: 1739
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2001 11:30 am

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:43 am

Block40Osan wrote:
jupiter2 wrote:
Is the spotting deck at GMP worth a visit ?


Unfortunately, The answer is 'No'. As the opening time of the deck is 1000hrs, the time when the sun moves to the opposite side, you'll get a backlit shot for all-day long. Probably for summer season it'll be useful until 1100hrs when shooting a runway activity. However I can say, in winter the apron movement of Int'l terminal can be photographed without being backlit.

https://www.airliners.net/photo/Korean-A ... ER/2438350

This was taken at 1230hrs, in December 2013. Nice light for KE 772 right? haha
Feel free to ask more!


Thanks for that, better to know now than find out when I get there ! As I will most likely be on foot, is it practical to get to the other side ?
 
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Block40Osan
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Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:02 pm

jupiter2 wrote:
Thanks for that, better to know now than find out when I get there ! As I will most likely be on foot, is it practical to get to the other side ?


Yes it is!

Every points at GMP are reachable by either foot or public transport. Whatever you choose, it won't take longer than 30 minutes to reach the point. However for ICN, getting to the landing point when RW15/16 is in operation, requires a car. Still you can photograph takeoff shots at Observation Deck which is totally accessible by bus. Nevertheless, I'll keep my fingers crossed for RW33/34 to be in use when you visit here :P
 
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Miguel1982
Posts: 214
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:53 pm

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Tue Jul 12, 2016 2:25 pm

I enjoyed shooting the takeoffs on rwy 16 from the observation deck very much, even though that configuration didn't last long when I was there. In any case, fully agree that having runways 33/34 in use gives you more photo opportunities.
 
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Block40Osan
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Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:53 pm

Miguel1982 wrote:
I enjoyed shooting the takeoffs on rwy 16 from the observation deck very much, even though that configuration didn't last long when I was there. In any case, fully agree that having runways 33/34 in use gives you more photo opportunities.


Glad you enjoyed your time here! Yes since 16/34 is not the main runway, takeoff and landing will occur by spells. I suppose you were at the deck from 1300 to 1500hrs when that runway handles most departures to Europe/SE Asian side (Basically the West-bound flights). Personally I do love photographing takeoff from 16 in winter, which is a very very rare chance.
 
jupiter2
Posts: 1739
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2001 11:30 am

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:10 am

Block40Osan wrote:
jupiter2 wrote:
Thanks for that, better to know now than find out when I get there ! As I will most likely be on foot, is it practical to get to the other side ?


Yes it is!

Every points at GMP are reachable by either foot or public transport. Whatever you choose, it won't take longer than 30 minutes to reach the point. However for ICN, getting to the landing point when RW15/16 is in operation, requires a car. Still you can photograph takeoff shots at Observation Deck which is totally accessible by bus. Nevertheless, I'll keep my fingers crossed for RW33/34 to be in use when you visit here :P


Great, thanks for the info. Yes will be hoping for 33/34, looking to be there in May, hopefully northerly winds will be blowing and the sun shining.
 
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Smoketrails
Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:31 pm

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:26 am

@ Block40Osan

Really appreciate your info on the Seoul airports! ICN is on my to do list, as soon as the 4th runway is finished. I guess the overview will be even more ideal then it is now as the aircraft will be closer!? Is it possible for you to make a map with the most current spotting locations at ICN?

Regards,

Chris
 
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Block40Osan
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Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Thu Jul 14, 2016 5:22 pm

Smoketrails wrote:
@ Block40Osan

Really appreciate your info on the Seoul airports! ICN is on my to do list, as soon as the 4th runway is finished. I guess the overview will be even more ideal then it is now as the aircraft will be closer!? Is it possible for you to make a map with the most current spotting locations at ICN?

Regards,

Chris


As far as I know, construction of the fourth runway at ICN is suspended until 2020 since the 3-runway ops can still handle the rapidly increasing traffics of Seoul. But this is just a rough plan; IIAC can revise plan anytime if they feel the necessity of the fourth runway. And as you mentioned, fourth runway will give photographers more chance to spot aircrafts in much closer distance compared to present conditions.

For the map, I'm currently editing the ICN spotting guide on spotterguide.net. You may refer to that site once the editing is done!

Best Regards,
Jamie
 
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Smoketrails
Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:31 pm

Re: About Spotting in Korea

Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:11 pm

Thanks for the info Jamie! And I will definitely check out the update on spotterguide!

Chris

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