Winter in Seoul – Day 3: Nami Island

*extremely picture-heavy post*

(Applying for a visa to South Korea? You might want to read here how to quickly check the status online!)

Since we have started travelling together, Mon and I have never woken up early for the following day’s activities. We usually leave at around 10:00 AM the earliest, or even almost lunch time the latest.

However, it was different for the third day of our trip. I set my alarm clock at 7:30 AM because we had to travel all the way to Gapyeong to visit Nami Island (although the title of the post is misleading because Gapyeong is NOT in Seoul. It’s just a a bit of work to edit all the backlinks, though). We were to originally go to Petite France but we have half-decided the night before that our first priority was Nami Island, and should we have more time, then we’d visit Petite France.

 Map of the distance between Seoul and Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

(CLICK PHOTO TO ZOOM) See how far Nami Island (upper right) from Seoul (lower left) is?

I already knew that it was no good because it was more difficult to go to-and-from Petite France due to the limited (and expensive) transportation options.

Truth be told, my only motivation to visit Petite France was the supposed convenience of it being situated in the same train route to Nami Island. But since we had already half-planned going to the War Memorial of Korea after, I was honestly more excited for it.

Debating whether to still go to Petite France by looking at the Gapyeong Tour Bus Schedule

Debating whether to still go to Petite France by looking at the Gapyeong Tour Bus Schedule

So from our guesthouse in Myeongdong, we traveled and made several train transfers. However, we were barely even done with our first transfer in Dongdaemun station when I realized that I have left my earmuffs in the guesthouse.

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I was so mortified because we were going to the potentially-coldest place in our whole trip. I wanted to buy one should we see any store selling a pair but there wasn’t one in sight.

On our way to Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

On our way to Nami Island

Snowy countryside --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Snowy countryside

Luck wasn’t still by my side. I had an unfortunate run with the local food the previous day that I wasn’t really comfortable travelling. At the risk of giving too much information, needless to say, we had to stop by Cheongpyeong station but not to visit Petite France. LOL

Stopping by Cheongpyeong station --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Stopping by Cheongpyeong station

After more than an hour of travelling from Mangu station (could have been shorter, if not because of my unfortunate stop in Cheongpyeong), we finally  reached Gapyeong station.

We headed right away to the line of cabs waiting few meters from the exit and we had almost kissed the cab driver because of the superbly working heater he had. We just said ‘Nami‘ and he immediately understood where we were headed to.

Immigration of Naminara Republic --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Immigration of Naminara Republic

After paying the admission fee (or the immigration fee), an officer inspected our ticket and asked us from which country we were. When we said Philippines, he grabbed one of his colleagues from the booth and put her in front of us.

She was a Filipina — or at least she was originally from the Philippines because looking at her name plate, I saw “Lee H.N.” and she might have already settled in Korea for a long time already. We had a little chat and we first mentioned how cold it was. She just replied “Di pa nga malamig ‘yan eh. Nag -17 °C pa kagabi dito eh” (It is not even that cold. We even reached -17°C last night). O_O I cannot imagine how cold that was because we were only at around -5°C that time. I literally shuddered.

Boarding the ferry to Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Boarding the ferry to Nami Island

Inside the ferry to Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Inside the ferry to Nami Island

While waiting for the ferry to arrive, Mon and I just stood next to some fireplace (or an oven-like apparatus, I don’t exactly know) to warm ourselves. The ferry eventually arrived and after people disembarked, we were one of the first people to get in.

It wasn’t that warm inside, though, and our hands were already freezing from the cold. It made me wonder how much colder our destination could be. The ferry waited for more people and the ferry to be substantially occupied before leaving. We were lucky enough to aboard early because we managed to get good seats by the glass panes. The rest had to stand.

View of this winter wonderland from the ferry --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

View of this winter wonderland from the ferry

The riverbank was even frozen --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

The riverbank was even frozen

After five minutes of travelling across the river (and it is worth mentioning that I did not even feel the ferry moving), we arrived at this wonderful place as if directly lifted from the pages of Narnia. It was so cold that even the banks of the island has frozen over. Leaving the ferry one by one, there was already a bunch of people waiting for us to leave so they can travel back to Gapyeong wharf.

Mon and I finally arriving in Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Mon and I finally arrived in Nami Island

Nami Island in December 2012 --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Nami Island in December 2012

Map of Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Map of Nami Island

The words amazing and breathtaking couldn’t capture enough how fantastic the place was. Granted it was cold and I did not even notice/feel funny stuff dripping from my nostrils (not to mention I had no earmuffs on), I did not completely mind because I have half-walked and half-run just to see what the island had in store for us.

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It has been always a dream of mine since I was a little kid to experience this much snow in a place. The snow from previous day’s visit to Namsangol Hanok Village couldn’t hold a candle next to Nami Island. I was literally a wide-eyed kid from the tropics that was made happy by the mere sight of snow everywhere.

The place looked amazing --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

The place looked amazing

All thanks to these men because we did not freeze to death --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

All thanks to these men because we did not freeze to death

Sculptures on Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Sculptures on Nami Island

The nearest tree lane with its vanishing point was really, really nice. I knew that it was not exactly as well-known as the famous one in Winter Sonata (which I did not even watch) because there were few tourists who actually stop to take a picture, but it was nevertheless amazing.

Tree lane in Nami Island - Winter December 2012

One of the tree lanes in Nami Island, but not THE tree lane

Lanterns hanging on this tree lane --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Lanterns hanging on this tree lane

There were also interesting creatures charming the tourists. Squirrels kept on running around and they were not exactly wild because they sometimes allowed people to pet them lightly as long as they think you have something for them. There were also a lot of these black and white ducks (?) that roamed freely and they too were not to shy away from a photo op.

A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit --- Carrie Bradshaw --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit (Carrie Bradshaw)

Cute little fellow impervious from the weather - black and white ducks - --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Cute little impervious fellow

It wasn’t a walk in the park, though, because we kept on running towards the nearest burning fire to warm ourselves. Well honestly, I just endured the cold so I spent less time towards the fire compared to how Mon “hover” around them like a moth to a flame. I just wanted to maximize my stay in the island.

Warming ourselves in front of the fire --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Warming ourselves in front of the fire

Like a page lifted from Narnia --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Like a page lifted from Narnia

Caterpillar statues --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Caterpillar statues

It looked like a fox to me --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

It looked like a fox to me

As we were walking, we kept on seeing people holding sausages on a stick and we were desperately looking for the place where they have bought some. Fortunately, several meters away from us, we saw this ‘stall’ with lots of people waiting for their sausages to be ready. It cost KRW 2,500 and we were so delighted with how hot and comforting it was that it was gone in less than three minutes.

In front of the stall, there was also a bonfire and a bunch of school kids hoarded the fire so we just went elsewhere to have our extremely periodic fix of warming up.

Grilled sausages in Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Grilled sausages in Nami Island

All roads lead to Naminara --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

All roads lead to Naminara

Almost done with the sausage I was eating --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Almost done with the sausage I was eating

A bunch of school chlidren gathered around the fire --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

A bunch of school chlidren gathered around the fire

Then of course, the area of the island I was most excited to see was the metasequoia tree lane.

Nami Island’s famous metasequoia tree lane — THE tree lane

"Nami Island Winter" -Picture with the metasequioa tree lane

Picture with the famous metasequioa tree lane of Nami Island

Next to this picturesque metasequoia tree lane were statues of the stars from ‘Winter Sonata‘. Again,  I have still yet to watch the drama, but we did not pass up the chance to have a picture with them just because. =P

Statues of the stars from Winter Sonata near the metasequoia tree lane --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Statues of the stars from Winter Sonata

Mon and I with the statues of Winter Sonata characters --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Mon and I with the statues of Winter Sonata characters

It was very nice fooling around the snow that I almost slipped badly but managed to get my balance after sliding for almost a meter. It was scary because I had my brother’s camera on hand and I might have smashed it to pieces. It wasn’t fortunate enough on our first day when it fell on the snowy ground and I was not about to finally break it.

Mon 'playing' hide-and-seek --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Mon ‘playing’ hide-and-seek

The hard-to-miss breastfeeding statue in Nami Island, covered in snow --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

The hard-to-miss breastfeeding statue, covered in snow

And alas, I could not help but try to take a picture again with the trees, similar to my first attempt at Mulberry’s F/W 2012 campaign by Lindsey Wixson back from July. =D

Yet another shot with a group of trees --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island red muffler, Two Percent Homme Varsity cardigan, Jil Sander white ribbed longsleeves shirt, black trench coat, Jag jeans, PathFinder boots, and Givenchy luggage duffle bag

Yet another shot with a group of trees

Before leaving the island, we decided to try another food that the other tourists were eating. Near this metasequioa lane was a place that sells ‘Snowman Pancake‘ for only KRW 1,000. I did not initially know the difference between their pancakes and normal pancakes, but upon tasting, I’ve noticed that it has less of that waffle-y taste. It was still a nice eat as it was very hot and we were getting a bit hungry as we had not eaten a proper breakfast earlier that day.

The stall selling Snowman Pancake in Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

The stall selling Snowman Pancake in Nami Island

Waiting for the Snowman Pancake to be cooked --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Waiting for the Snowman Pancake to be cooked

Mon and I trying out the Snowman Pancake --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Mon and I trying out the Snowman Pancake

We then walked back to where we initially disembarked from and waited for the next ferry to bring us back to Gapyeong wharf. We managed to easily get seats because not a lot of people were waiting for the ferry. We then waited around ten minutes for more people to board before we crossed the river again.

About to leave Nami Island --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

About to leave Nami Island

Inside the ferry back to the wharf ; look at my glasses --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Inside the ferry back to the wharf ; look at my glasses — it was freezing!

Upon arriving, we saw this way beyond cute kitty, warming himself in front of some wooden stove. We tried getting his attention but he was not to be disturbed and too adamant to keep his ‘warm’. LOL

Fat kitty warming itself near a fire --- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Fat kitty warming himself near a fire

So, how to go to Nami Island? If you look at the subway map, take note that you will be travelling northeast-ward, so the direction should be primarily to the right (just making it clear).

Edited: The most complete Seoul (and nearby areas) subway map as of 2015 (click to zoom)

  1. Since we will be coming from Downtown Seoul, we took the train from Myeongdong station (Line 4) until Dongdaemun station (four stations away).
  2. From Dongdaemun station, we transferred to Line 1 in order to reach Hoegi station (five stations away).
  3. Then from Hoegi station, we transferred to Line J and travelled to Mangu station (three stations away).
  4. The final transfer was from Mangu station to Line G, which will take up a great chunk of your travel time. Get off at Gapyeong station (ten stations away) or if you intend to visit Petite France before Nami Island, your stop will be at Cheongpyeong station (eight stations away).
  5. Exit Gapyeong station and you will immediately see a line of cabs. Just say ‘Namiseom‘ and off you go. We did not know how much the fare was, so I just handed out a KRW 5,000 bill. He gave a KRW 2,600 change, so that was exactly KRW 2,400 one-way. It will only be about five minutes going to the wharf.
  6. Upon reaching the Immigration, pay KRW 8,000 that includes the two-way ride from the wharf to Nami Island.

Please take note that the trains from Hoegi to Mangu (vice versa) and Mangu to Gapyeong (vice versa) follow a schedule.

Time Table or Schedule of the train going from Mangu to Yongsan ---- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Time Table or Schedule of the train going from Mangu to Yongsan

Time Table or Schedule of the train going from Gapyeong to Sangbong and Gapyeong to Yongsan ---- Winter in Seoul December 2012 - Day 3: Nami Island

Time Table or Schedule of the train going from Gapyeong to Sangbong and Gapyeong to Yongsan

There are also agencies offering arranged tours for Nami Island. You may try deals from Trazy.com for this.

(ETA:)
You can also see for yourself the estimated travel time from the closest station to your hotel/guesthouse to Gapyeong station, using Seoul subway’s ‘Cyber Station’ map/guide https://www.seoulmetro.co.kr/station/eng/linemap.action. I also tried to input Myeongdong station as point of departure and Gapyeong as destination. The estimated travel time shown was 81 minutes.

Estimated travel time from Downtown Seoul (Myeongdong station) to Gapyeong station for Nami Island from Seoul Subway's website

Estimated travel time from Downtown Seoul (Myeongdong station) to Gapyeong station for Nami Island from Seoul Subway’s website

As of today, Mon and I talked over dinner how much we both want to go back to South Korea again. I know that I have mentioned before that we consider trying other countries after our recent visit back to Seoul. But after a few days, we had a change of heart and we now think of going back for autumn 2013. =D We’ll still see, though as it depends on plane ticket prices.

*See related posts in this “Winter in Seoul 2012” series. You may also click here to see our second time in Nami Island last December 2016.

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bryologue

31 Comments

  1. hi! thank you for sharing this post , it was very informative ! would just like to ask sana some advice for 1st timer like me to visit seoul with family of 3 kids…we planned to go on our 1st day sana in Nami since kid do s cant wait to see real snow 😉 tavel period namin jan 12_14; 3 full days lang so wed like to get the most out of it. will stay in millenium seoul 1st day, arrive incheon same time like you did in ur post. possible b to go straight to nami iwan lang namin baggage sa hotel? meron n kya train from our hotel to nami? and mga how many hrs travel? super thanks! plan to go to gangnam st din sana, n tower & that village u mentioned & visited on ur 2nd day. also, after hilton on our 1st day, we will transfer to a budget hotel or guesthouse…any suggestion na malapit sa downtown & affordable? strict din b taxi sa nami, like how many passenger allowed inside? had problem kze in beijing as they impose 4passengers only…were 5 … will appreciate very much your very kind reply 🙂 Happy New Year.

    • Hi! Thanks for finding this post helpful =) I’ll try to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

      ***NAMI ISLAND***
      I think it is possible to go to Nami Island directly from your flight. When we arrived in Incheon Int’l Airport, we really took our time going around because we were not rushing to reach downtown Seoul. If your hotel will allow (and most, if not all, do allow leaving your bags), you can go straight to Nami Island. So from airport to Seoul station, allot about 60-70 minutes travel time, (or even if the hotel will pick you up, it will take almost the same time), so I guess you will be all set, with the traveling and leaving of things at around 8:30 or 9:00. There are definitely trains going to Nami Island because they also operate quite early, especially the last transfers from Hoegi to Mangu, and Mangu to Gapyeong.
      I looked at the time stamps of the pictures I took with my camera and that one picture from Mangu station was 8:50 AM and I estimated that the travel time to Gapyeong was approximately 60 minutes. I’ve also checked Seoul subway’s website and the estimated travel time are as follows (also added the picture and the website’s link by updating the post above):

      Myeongdong station to Gapyeong station = 81 minutes
      Breakdown of last two transfers:
      Hoegi station to Mangu station = 6 minutes
      Mangu station to Gapyeong station = 45 minutes

      You also have to consider the walk you have to do for ALL transfers as well and if medyo madami yung tao in the morning because sorta rush hour. =) For the taxi, I am not too sure on the number of allowed passengers inside, sorry if I’m of no help about this.

      ***GUESTHOUSE***
      I have only tried one in Jongno area (Guesthouse in Korea) and the latest was in Namsan Guesthouse 2. I suggest to try asking Namsan Guesthouse if they have available rooms (either Namsan Guesthouse 2 or Namsan Guesthouse 3) for the said date. The problem with the short notice was they will most probably be booked already. You can email Joon (or whoever will answer) at webmaster(at)namsanguesthouse.com. They usually reply within a few hours but definitely not in the middle of the night.

      I hope you enjoy you and your family will enjoy your Seoul trip! Your kids will definitely love the snow kase sobrang benta sya for me and I was close to tears always (dahil sa saya or sobrang lamig??? hahaha), what more for a kids pa? <3 Happy New Year too you all din!

      • thank you so much …. hope you can continue sharing ur travel experiences thru ur very informative blogsite 🙂 hubby & i decided to go on with our nami 1st day trip upon reaching seoul. then visit gangnamgu as my kiddos like to be in that place & dance gangnam style…very funny. then nxt day we transfer to four seasons from millenium seoul & will visit palaces & seoul tower, then shopping or window shopping that is 😉 on our last day, etc. now all i need to do is to pack all these bulky winter accessories! for sure will bring moisturizers , thanks for that reminder. btw, how bout that trick eye museum? should i include that in our plan?

        • Hi! No problem, my pleasure. =) Just one piece of advice, don’t go to Gangnam during rush hour. I nearly cried when we were caught in the rush hour Gangnam style. We just went there to get a picture for my nephew who has been pestering me to have my picture taken for him LOL

          Also, if you can, don’t buy/bring too many winter accessories with you. Just bring a pair of gloves and scarf and buy the rest in Myeongdong. They are reasonably priced and will be sure that they will work on the weather. Remember that Zegna leather gloves I posted a month ago? Well it was already cashmere and leather and still it did not withstand their cold winter. And good to note about the moisturizer and petroleum jelly. Imagine I had to bring that “small” tub with me everywhere, when I could have just brought the smallest size from Mercury.

          And lastly, for the Trickeye Museum, I recommend you go there because you have kids with you and they will definitely appreciate the place. Just make sure you visit another spot in the area para di naman sayang ang pagpunta nyo sa Mapo-gu. If you or your kids like cats, you can try the Gio Cat Café there to relax your legs and have fun.

          I hope you and your family will enjoy your trip this Saturday!

  2. Hi! Your post about Nami Island and winter clothes are very helpful. My family and I will go there in January so it is during the winter season. I’m now considering skipping the visit to Nami Island due to extreme cold. Haha.

    Can you give me a range of prices of the winter clothes in Myeongdong? I can’t decide if it is cheaper to buy here or in Korea. I would really appreciate your reply. Thank you!!

    • Hi! Sorry for the late reply. I think Nami Island is a must, you just have to be ready for the cold. I’d definitely go there again in a heartbeat. Anyway, for the clothing issue, it won’t matter if you have clothing from here. You just really needed earmuffs and thick gloves to withstand the cold, or perhaps another scarf/muffler from there (the red one I have was KRW 5,000 that time). Good luck and enjoy! =D

  3. Pingback: Rêve de neige |
    • Hi there, thanks for finding it helpful. The image was not from the app, but from the website itself. Although I have no idea whether Seoul Metro’s website has already changed since the last time I have visited it. 🙂

  4. Hi there! very interesting read. my family and i are going in December and nami island is one of the itinery plan. Just wondering, is there any ski at nami?

    • Hi! There’s no ski in Nami. You might want to visit Pyeongchang for the ski resorts, where the next winter Olympics will take place! 😀

  5. Hi, your blog somehow helped me decide to push through w/ the winter korea trip coming dec 26-30. I’ll be with husband, and sons ages 17&15. I am not a cold person like my nosebled when we went to beijing. But i wanted or dreamed of us – family to have a snow as in real snow christmas! Can you please advise what shoes to wear? Are the hotels warm enough? How was you flights? Mla-korea-mla? Planning to bring my dslr camera but read about your little mishap so i am now hesitant to bring it, will iphones suffice? Please advise more on clothes to wear. Thank you so much!

    • Hi! You should definitely go for this trip! My advice would be to wear any leather boots or those with a bit of padding, or just two layers of socks can do the trick. The hotels are warm enough, and some of them even have an ‘ondol’ system to warm the floor. You may bring your DLSR camera, provided that you won’t slip like stupid me. Just make sure your shoes would hold up well. As for the clothes, on our last 2 days, I only have two layers on, maybe I got used to the cold by then. But for Nami Island, it was FREEZING so you might want to cover up nicely there. Just bring one pair of gloves from here and buy one in Myeongdong because the gloves we have here have no match against their cold! You should buy earmuffs there too. Also, bring petroleum jelly and lots of moisturizer. Good luck!

  6. Hi when did you go to Nami island? How cold it is during November 26-29 coz were planning to go there and wanna visit nami island as well.

    • Hi there! We went there in the second week of December. It was already freezing cold that time as snow already fell days before we arrived. I think more or less the temperature would be the same. Good luck!

    • Hi! I was not using a DSLR but a bridge camera. However, I just tried to acclimatize the device to the cold temperature so that there won’t be any condensation on the lens. Sometimes, it was more difficult when you suddenly enter a warm place (to eat or to walk around) but they clear up in a couple of minutes.

  7. Hi! Good thing I came across your post. My whole family is planning to go on a package tour to Seoul this December. The itinerary will be, upon arrival and after breakfast, we will be going directly to Nami. My worry is that we will be traveling with my mom who is already 73 yrs old (senior). I am worried that she may not withstand the cold temp esp. she is hypertensive. My children really wanted to experience winter and my mom doesn’t want to be left home. Any piece of advice?

    • Hi! What time would you be arriving in Incheon and what time do you plan to travel to Nami? I’m just asking because maybe you will be too caught up with too much travel in and out of the place, and anything past 9:00 am might mean that you will get there quite late and have little time after.

      As for the clothing, I think you can buy one of those Uniqlo heattech tops they sell. This way, she’d feel warmer with those underneath. Also, I recommend buying earmuffs, gloves and a muffler from Myeongdong for her. She needs all the warming up she could get and it might be difficult (almost nil) to find somewhere along the way to buy from.

  8. Is this where Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano shot their movie “My Ex and Whys” in South Korea???

    • LOL I just saw the trailer of their new movie as well, and yes, looks like it was shot in Nami Island.

  9. Hi, thanks for sharing. I am planning to visit Nami Island on 9th December 2017, do you know if there have snow at that time?

    • Hi! Snowfall is quite unpredictable. In 2012, there was already snow then in the first week of December. Thinking that visiting few more weeks after (i.e. near Christmas) would have snow already, but we were disappointed because there was none. Personally, if I were to go back during winter, February will be your best bet. Good luck!

  10. Very helpful entry though in 2012. Did you have a more recent one on you Nami Island experience or any snow experience in Korea?

  11. Wow! This is generous and detailed sharing of info and experiences. I enjoyed reading and felt like I’ve been there to Nami Island.Thank you. I hope my children could have the chance to visit and enjoy the place too.
    More trips and more power to you!

    • Thank you Mama Bear! I’m glad this particular post proved magical to you! Yes, kids will really love it there especially when there’s snow everywhere! ☺

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