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Gimpo International Airport

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Gimpo International Airport

Gimpo Gukje Gonghang
Kimp'o Kukche Konghang
RKSS Domestic.jpg
Domestic Terminal
WMO: 47110
Airport type Public
Operator Korea Airports Corporation
Serves Seoul
Location Gangseo District, Seoul, South Korea
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 58 ft / 18 m
Coordinates 37°33′29″N 126°47′26″E / 37.55806°N 126.79056°E / 37.55806; 126.79056Coordinates: 37°33′29″N 126°47′26″E / 37.55806°N 126.79056°E / 37.55806; 126.79056
Website [1]
GMP is located in South Korea
Location in South Korea
Direction Length Surface
ft m
14R/32L 10,499 3,200 Asphalt
14L/32R 11,811 3,600 Concrete
Statistics (2015)
Aircraft movements 142,863
International Passengers 4,029,502
Domestic Passengers 19,134,276
Total Passengers 23,163,778
Statistics from KAC[2]

Gimpo International Airport (Korean: 김포국제공항 [kimpʰoɡuktɕ͈eɡoŋhaŋ]), commonly known as Gimpo Airport (IATA: GMPICAO: RKSS) (formerly Kimpo International Airport), is located in the far western end of Seoul, some 15 km (9 mi) west of the Central District of Seoul. Gimpo was the main international airport for Seoul and South Korea before being replaced by Incheon International Airport in 2001. In 2015, 23,163,778 passengers used the airport, making it the third largest airport in Korea, as it has been surpassed by Jeju International Airport.

International Terminal at Gimpo Airport, Seoul, South Korea

The airport is located south of the Han River in western Seoul. The name "Gimpo" comes from the nearby city of Gimpo, of which the airport used to be a part.

On 29 November 2003, scheduled services between Gimpo and Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan began. Services to Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport started on 28 October 2007. Services to Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan started on 26 October 2008. Services to Beijing Capital International Airport started on 1 July 2011.[3] Services to Taipei Songshan Airport started on 30 April 2012.[4]


F51s at Kimpo (K14) Airfield, October 1950[5]

The airfield was originally constructed in 1939–1942 during the Japanese Imperial period.

Mitsubishi Ki-51s at Kimpo in October 1945

Korean War

Gimpo played a major role during the Korean War, and the USAF designated the airfield as Kimpo Air Base or K-14.

North Korean forces attacked South Korea on 25 June 1950 starting the Korean War. During one of the first Korean People's Air Force (KPAF) attacks on 25 June a Military Air Transport Service C-54 Skymaster was destroyed on the ground at Gimpo. On 27 June US naval and air forces began evacuating 748 US diplomats, military dependents, and civilians by air transport from Kimpo and Suwon Airfield.[6] On the afternoon of 27 June five F-82 Twin Mustangs of the 68th Fighter Squadron and 339th Fighter Squadron were escorting four C-54 Skymaster aircraft out of Kimpo when the C-54s were attacked by five KPAF Lavochkin La-7 fighters. In the subsequent dogfights three LA-7s were shot down for the loss of no US aircraft in the first air battle of the war.[7] Later that day four F-80Cs of the 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron shot down four Ilyushin Il-10s for no losses over Gimpo in the USAF's first jet-aircraft victory.[6]

Gimpo was captured by the KPA shortly after the capture of Seoul on 28 June 1950. On 29 June eight B-29s of the 19th Bomb Group bombed Gimpo and the Seoul railyards.[6] By July the KPAF were using the base for attacks on UN forces, on 10 July, seven Yak-7s were hidden at Gimpo and used in strikes against UN positions at Cheongju. The next day they surprised and damaged several F-80s in the area. On 15 July the US launched an attack on Gimpo, destroying two or three of the seven Yak-7s there and damaging the runway.[8] On 5 August 5th Air Force fighters strafed and bombed Gimpo, destroying 9 aircraft and damaging 9 others.[9]

Following the Inchon landings on 15 September 1950, the 2nd Battalion 5th Marines was ordered to seize Gimpo on 17 September.[10] Gimpo was defended by a conglomeration of half-trained fighting men and service forces and by the morning of 18 September the Marines had secured the airfield. The airfield was in excellent shape as the North Koreans had not had time to do any major demolition.[11] On 19 September, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers repaired the local railroad up to eight miles (13 km) inland and 32 C-54 transport planes began flying in gasoline and ordnance. VMF-212 was one of the first units to operate from Gimpo before moving forward to Yonpo Airfield. On 25 September the 811th Engineer Aviation Battalion began repairing bomb damage on the 6,000 feet (1,800 m) asphalt runway at Gimpo and covering it with Marsden Matting.[12] On 6 October the USAF took control of Gimpo from the USMC.[6]

Following the Chinese Third Phase Campaign and the defeat of UN Forces at the 38th parallel, on 5 January 1951 General Ridgway ordered the evacuation of Seoul and the withdrawal of UN forces to a new defensive line along the 37th parallel. Units based at Gimpo were withdrawn to the south and facilities were destroyed to prevent their use by Chinese and North Korean forces.

UN Forces resumed the offensive again in late January 1951 and launched Operation Thunderbolt on 25 January with the aim of pushing Chinese and North Korean forces back north of the Han River. By 10 February 1951, UN forces once again had control of Gimpo.[13]

USAF units based at Gimpo (Kimpo) included:

Other UN units based at Gimpo (Kimpo) included:

On 21 September 1953 North Korean pilot No Kum-Sok defected in his MiG-15 landing at Gimpo.

International era

Map of the airport circa 2014, with the rail station seen along the top.

In 1958, Gimpo was designated as the international airport of the South Korean capital city, replacing the existing Yeouido Airport. Since the opening of Gimpo, Yeouido Airport was totally demolished. It soon became the main airport of Seoul and the entire South Korea. In 1971 the new terminal was opened as both domestic and international, but as opening of Terminal 1 in 1977, the original terminal was converted as domestic. Later, Terminal 2 was opened due to the olympics.

However, it has grown into a much more significant airport that is capable of handling 226,000 flights a year. Since 1980, Gimpo met a lot of problems, due to its over handling and lack of spaces to expand. It was one of the most problem that it has curfew, which means arrival and departure are strictly prohibited during the mornight.

Due to these problems, the government made a new plan to build a new airport. It was actually planned in Cheongju, 124 km far from Seoul, but it was strongly opposed by Seoul and Gyeonggi citizens due to its inconvenience(it is more far than Viracopos Airport in Sao Paulo, approximately 100 km far from the city). Finally the new site was decided nearby Yeongjong Island, a part of Incheon. This was later known as Incheon International Airport. When Incheon was opened in 2001, all international flights were moved to Incheon(new airport) and only served domestic flights.

Domestic era

However, due to the lack of airlines, a flight to Haneda Airport in Tokyo was started in 2003. From that, Gimpo returned as international airport. Since then, several international flights in neighbour countries were added and currently it normally served particular international airlines especially to nearby countries.

Since all 3 terminals were outdated, there's a masterplan to refurbish them. It is deemed to be completed by 2017.

Gimpo currently has two runways (3600 m × 45 m & 3200 m × 60 m), two passenger terminals, and one cargo terminal.

Airlines and destinations

Asiana Airlines Airbus A321-200 at Gimpo International Airport
Jin Air Boeing 737-800 take off at Gimpo International Airport
Korean Air Boeing 737-800 at Gimpo International Airport
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air Busan Busan, Jeju Domestic
Air China Beijing–Capital International
All Nippon Airways Tokyo–Haneda International
Asiana Airlines Gwangju, Jeju, Sacheon, Ulsan, Yeosu Domestic
Asiana Airlines Beijing–Capital, Osaka–Kansai, Shanghai–Hongqiao, Tokyo–Haneda International
China Airlines Taipei–Songshan International
China Eastern Airlines Shanghai–Hongqiao International
China Southern Airlines Beijing–Capital International
Eastar Jet Jeju, Yangyang Domestic
Eastar Jet Taipei–Songshan International
EVA Air Taipei–Songshan International
Japan Airlines Tokyo–Haneda International
Jeju Air Nagoya–Centrair, Osaka–Kansai, Tokyo–Haneda International
Jin Air Jeju Domestic
Juneyao Airlines Shanghai–Hongqiao International
Korean Air Busan, Jeju, Pohang,[14] Sacheon, Ulsan, Yeosu Domestic
Korean Air Beijing–Capital, Osaka–Kansai, Shanghai–Hongqiao, Tokyo–Haneda International
Shanghai Airlines Shanghai–Hongqiao International
T'way Airlines Jeju Domestic
T'way Airlines Taipei–Songshan International


Top carriers

International Terminal, Gimpo Airport – Departure
Domestic Terminal, Gimpo Airport – Departure

In 2015, the ten carriers with the largest percentage of passengers flying into, out of, or through Gimpo International Airport are as follows:

Top carriers (2015)
Rank Carrier Domestic
Total  %
1 Korean Air 4,963,524 1,097,749 6,061,273 26.17%
2 Asiana Airlines 3,893,444 1,084,583 4,978,027 21.49%
3 Jeju Air 2,503,580 233,935 2,737,515 11.82%
4 Jin Air 2,708,231 118 2,708,349 11.69%
5 Air Busan 1,807,305 1,179 1,808,484 7.81%
6 Eastar Jet 1,644,168 53,800 1,697,968 7.33%
7 T'way Airlines 1,614,024 70,224 1,684,248 7.27%
8 Japan Airlines 424,156 424,156 1.83%
9 All Nippon Airways 406,709 406,709 1.76%
10 China Eastern Airlines 179,742 179,742 0.8%

Other facilities

The Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board (ARAIB) has its FDR/CVR Analysis and Wreckage Laboratory on the property of the airport.[15] When the predecessor agency Korea Aviation Accident Investigation Board (KAIB) existed, its CVR/FDR and wreckage laboratory was located on the airport property.[16]

Ground transportation


On 23 March 2007 the AREX airport express line started operations to Incheon International Airport, with an extension to Seoul Station which opened in December 2010. Seoul Subway Line 9 also links the airport to the Gangnam area.

For many years, the airport was served by the Gimpo Line, a railway line that no longer exists. In the 1990s, Seoul Subway Line 5 was extended to Gimpo.

Accidents and incidents

International Terminal, Gimpo Airport – Departure
  • On 11 December 1969, North Korean agent Cho Ch'ang-hǔi hijacked a Korean Air Lines YS-11 flying from Gangneung Airbase in Gangneung, Gangwon-do to Gimpo International Airport in Seoul. It was carrying four crewmembers and 46 passengers (excluding Cho); 39 of the passengers were returned two months later, but the crew and seven passengers remained in North Korea. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair on landing.
  • On 20 April 1978, Korean Air Lines Flight 902 a Boeing 707 was shot down by the Soviet Air Force while flying from Paris, France to Anchorage, Alaska and continuing to Gimpo Airport. Two passengers were killed in the explosive decompression and the flight was able to land on a frozen lake where the remaining passengers and crew were transported to safety and then flown out of the Soviet Union back to South Korea
  • On 19 November 1980, Korean Air Lines Flight 015 landed short of the runway, ripping off all main landing gear, causing the aircraft to skid to a stop on the nose wheel and outer 2 engines starting a fire. 15 of the 226 total occupants were killed, including the First Officer and Captain.[17]
  • On 1 September 1983, Korean Air Lines 007 (a Boeing 747) bound for Seoul from New York City via Anchorage was shot down by a Soviet interceptor jet after pilot error drifted the plane into a restricted soviet air space, all passengers and crew on board were killed as the plane plummeted into the Sea of Japan and escalated tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.
  • On 14 September 1986, A bomb blast occurred outside a terminal building, killing five people and wounding 36. The attack was blamed on North Korea as an attempt to disrupt the 1986 Asian Games starting 5 days later.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Gimpo International Airport. Retrieved on 24 August 2013.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Gimpo–Beijing air route to open in July. South Korea News (26 April 2011). Retrieved on 12 July 2013.
  4. ^ Songshan to begin direct flights to Gimpo in Seoul. Taipei Times (30 April 2012). Retrieved on 6 March 2015.
  5. ^ Photo from collection of LTC (USAF Ret) Harvey W. Gipple
  6. ^ a b c d "History Milestones Sunday, January 01, 1950 – Thursday, December 31, 1959". U.S. Air Force. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Valor Awards for James Walter Little". Gannett Company. 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Futrell, Robert F. (1997). The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950–1953. United States Government Printing Office. pp. 99–101. ISBN 9780160488795. 
  9. ^ Futrell, p. 102
  10. ^ Hoyt, Edwin P. (1984). On to the Yalu. Stein and Day. p. 58. ISBN 0812829778. 
  11. ^ Hoyt, p.61
  12. ^ Futrell, pp. 178–9
  13. ^ Futrell, p. 293
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Office Location." (Archive) Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board. Retrieved on 15 February 2012. "CVR/FDR analysis and wreckage laboratory : Gimpo International Airport 274 Gwahae-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, Korea 157–711"
  16. ^ "KAIB/AAR F0201." Korea Aviation Accident Investigation Board. 4/168. Retrieved on 18 June 2009. "The main office is located near Gimpo International Airport, and the flight recorder analysis and wreckage laboratories are located inside the airport."
  17. ^ Aircraft accident Boeing 747-2B5B HL7445 Seoul–Gimpo (Kimpo) International Airport
  18. ^ "5 DEAD, 36 HURT IN AN EXPLOSION AT SEOUL AIRPORT". New York Times. 15 September 1968. Retrieved 30 June 2016. 

External links