Ihwa Mural Village

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August 23rd 2015
Published: September 11th 2015
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Ihwa Mural village is located in Seoul, close to Daehaengno. I visited Gaemi mural village a few months ago, and I had been wanting to visit its more famous sister, Ihwa mural village. Ihwa is a 'moon village' like Gaemi Mauel is, and the murals were painted to gentrify the area. In 2006, a local public art committee carried out what was called the Naksan Project to improve the local area. Around 60 artists participated in this project either by painting murals or installing pieces of art. The mural village is pretty easy to get to. Lots of people have written blogs about visiting it. Sometimes the directions are spot on, however other times they leave a lot to be desired. I took the subway to Hyehwa, and came out of exit two. I walked straight, past Marronnier Park until I reached Dongsung-gil. I turned left up that street and walked for a little while. There is a wall, which has murals on it and a big brown cat. There is also a mural map of the area. The lock museum is there, which is marked on a lot of sign posts. By the wall, there is a sign post that tells you to turn left and that the mural village is about eight or nine hundred metres away. I walked along and then turned right. There were lots of cute cafes and shops, there was one that looked like some kind of bespoke ice cream shop, I wish I had been hungry enough to have one.

It was a little steep heading up the hill. I reached the top and there was a small map showing where the mural village was and Naksan Park to the left. I followed the road round. I was quite high up and there were some great views over Seoul. I could see Namsan in the distance. There was a really nice looking cafe/bar, which had some great outdoor seating. I think that would be a great place to sit with a drink and enjoy the sunset. I was still a bit unsure if I was heading in the right direction, a parking attendant at the park, was telling everyone to just keep going, everyone must always look confused when they are walking along here. It was hot, hot, hot. There was no shade and I was sweating like a beast! I probably should have waited until later in the day to visit or a cooler season. There was a mural or two on the walls, but they were pretty low key.

I came across a gorgeous little cafe, which had a great clock mural on the wall. Opposite it, there was some kind of museum, but I didn't go in for a look around. This mural village seems a lot more spread out compared to Gaemi Maeul, which as soon as you got off the bus, you could see all the different murals. I kept walking and finally came across the main couple of streets, which had the murals. There were also some cool sculptures attached to the walls. I saw the fish steps, they looked really cool! Luckily, it wasn't too busy so I managed to get some photos that were almost free of people. I wandered up the steps and headed to the top of the village, I recognised this part, from when I did part of the Seoul Fortress walk a few months ago. Back then, I didn't have time to wander down to the mural village and take a look around. There was a little parky thing, which was full of old people, all chilling in the shade.

The air was a bit ripe up here, I take it the sewage system must still be a little primitive. You could tell that people really cared for their homes, as there were lots of flowers and I saw a woman sweeping the street. The village didn't have the slightly decayed feeling to it that Gaemi Maeul did. Maybe because it gets a lot more tourists as it is in a more central and easier to reach location. Also there seemed like the neighbourhood had been gentrified, there were a few cutesy cafes, art studios and the like, and I even saw a cute little guesthouse. There were also a few small marts and enterprising locals had set up drink stands. It was more of a mix, locals and artists. Some of the houses were tiny, the doorways so small. I think I would like to live here in my head, but having no transportation and having to tackle the steep slopes in winter would be a nightmare.

One little street had lots of gorgeous heats and flowers painted on to the sides of the houses. Just a little bit further down from there was the other set of steps, not quite as famous as the fish ones. The flower steps were really pretty, but a lot busier so it was harder to get a decent photo of them. There were lots of cool retro looking cafe/shops in this part. One had an old school video games machine from an arcade outside of it. I had seen all the major murals, so I headed back down towards the subway, passing a few cool black and white murals on the way.

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