Fall is most certainly over my friends, but this last weekend, I braved the cold with one of my friends so I could bring you all the tasty picture goodness featured below. We got up early, put on our glittens (glove mittens), boarded the KTX fast train, and headed to Seoul in search of the Ihwa Mural Village. First, a little bit of background...
In the last few decades Seoul (and Korea in general) has experienced extreme economic growth: quickly moving from a state of underdevelopment, to being one of the most modern and economically developed countries in the world. With this momentous growth, many neighborhoods found themselves left behind, unable to keep up with the rise of industry and increasing economic standards. Iwha-dong was one of these neighborhoods.
In 2006, at the behest of the Seoul city government, a project was initiated to try and revitalize this semi-forgotten area. Over 60 artisans and muralists were commissioned to bring color, vitality, and new life to the area, through the creation of some truly amazing works of art.
This little community is one of several that are also known as moon villages, because the structures are built along the face of the mountain, hence making them closer to the moon. As such, it's a little bit of a steep climb to reach the village. Nothing serious, but there was definitely a bit of huffing and puffing on our way to the top - I blame it on the cold. Can you spot Seoul Tower looking so tiny off in the distance in the picture above?
Something to keep in mind if you do decide to visit this village is that people do actually live here, so be respectful and don't make a ruckus This being said, the murals are all located on main streets and community staircases so as long as you stick to the main paths you shouldn't be intruding on anyone's privacy. I was afraid we would be the only people there and it would be super weird and creepy of us to be wandering around taking pictures, but this definitely was not the case. In reality, we had to edge in for space among the multitude to selfie-stick toting Korean visitors.
We probably spent about an hour and a half walking around and taking in the scenes, but it's definitely possible to spend the better part of an afternoon. There are several cute cafes, like the little yellow one pictured below, as well as many fun handicraft stores. We might have been more inclined to stay longer had it not been so damn chilly. Bundled up as we were, the white mist rising from our mouths with every breathe was not a great motivator. And no, being from Colorado does mean I love the cold.
Overall, I found our little excursion to be really interesting and enjoyable, and I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a unique way to spend half a day in Seoul. On top of all the amazing art, the Iwha Mural Village is actually pretty easy to get to, though I won't lie we did take a few wrong turns.
- Take Seoul Metro Line 4 to Hyehwa Station, Exit 2
- Go straight out of Exit 2 and walk for about 200m
- Take a Left when you see a Dunkin Donuts
- Walk straight until you start seeing murals
- This is where it starts getting tricky... There are several little back streets that lead up to the park, but most of them don't have names. So, my best advice is use Google Maps to locate Naksan Park, and then use that map to finagle your way upwards. You'll know you've found the right place when you see any of the places pictured above, or lots of Koreans walking around with cameras.
If you enjoyed this post, please pass it on! Have you ever been to Seoul? What is your favorite destination? Where should I go next?? I'm always up for a new adventure, so if you have an idea please leave it in the comment section below, Tweet to me @abeautifulview0, or find me on Facebook.
Enjoy the beautiful view!