Saturday, June 3, 2017

[In Pictures] Alternative Seoul Itinerary: Ihwa Mural Village

I got to know about Ihwa Mural Village through the popular South Korean reality-variety show, 2 Days 1 Night. 

In the show, actor and singer Lee Seunggi visited this tranquil hillside village situated at the top of the bustling city, to capture a picture with the “angel's wing” mural.
I was mesmerised by the vibrant and gorgeous murals, hence, I decided to explore this attractive village when I was in Seoul!
Ihwa Mural Village is sandwiched between Hyehwa Station (Exit 2) and Dongdaemun Station, bound by an ancient fortress wall and sitting at the extreme top of Mt. Naksan.
To get there, find your way to Hyehwa Station Exit 2. Walk to the backstreets of Daehakno, which is located behind Marronnier Park. Next, ascend the steep slope to Naksan Park and into Ihwa Mural Village.
10 years ago, this old and rundown neighbourhood was scheduled for demolition, but it was fortunately saved from the bulldozer due to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism “Art in the City” campaign aimed at revitalising these old neighbourhoods, including the Ihwa-dong Naksan Project in Iwha-dong.
The sleepy Ihwa Mural Village has been thriving, all thanks to the Naksan Project in 2006, in which 64 different art installations were contrived by more than dozens of artists.
Before the Naksan Project in 2006, Ihwa Mural Village used to be an unnoticed residential area comprised of mostly the poor and elderly. Residents of Ihwa Mural Village made up of relatively poor people working in the garment and textile industries located in the nearby Changsin-dong and Dongdaemun, who could only live in a home up in the mountain as they couldn’t afford accommodation in the more convenient flat residential area.
Though the residents have to climb up the steep hill every day to reach home, living at the tip of the hill also means they could admire the vast starry sky at night. For this reason, Ihwa Mural Village is also referred as “moon villages”.
After the Naksan Project in 2006, the quiet mountainside village has been buzzing with life. Every day, tourists and locals snake their ways up to the artistic Ihwa Mural Village to snap photos with the many interesting art installations and colourful murals, particularly the “angel’s wing”.
However, many of the murals were removed upon the residents’ requests, as the noisy behaviour of the tourists was too much and a disturbance to the quiet residents.

Getting there:
  • Alight at Hyehwa (Subway Line 4)
  • Exit 2
  • Walk  to the backstreets of Daehakno, behind Marronnier Park
  • Ascend the steep slope to Naksan Park and into the Ihwa Mural Village

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