Ihwa Mural Village, Korea, Seoul, Ihwa-dong, Art, Graffiti

Walking around Korea, you notice the curious co-existence of glossy behemoths of modern shopping centres on lower ground, with the steep slopes stretching up beyond them that houses the more traditional roots of the city and its architecture. The air gets colder, the people get older but the place is no less interesting for it.

DIRECTIONS | SEOUL 2014

No apartments in Ihwa Mural Village, just a maze of narrow streets that have taken uneasily to the travel mode of the modern age (see: the mini heart attack we got watching a sedan and ambulance compete to go up a 45+ degree slope that was just wide enough to avoid clipping the side mirrors on a telephone pole).

Judging by the shopkeepers and residents wandering around in the relatively empty hours of early morning (aka. 10AM), it is an area primarily consisting of senior citizens. With its long flights of stairs, it is not a place for the fainthearted (or the unfit. See: yours truly) but the tiny, hunchbacked halmoni with bow legs and huge newspaper bundles manages to drag them up the long flights of stairs anyway (though I dare you to find a tourist who doesn't feel the need to help her along when they see her). You really can't help but respect their tenacity.

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The fruits of the Naksan project that made this place the 'Mural Village' were as varied as they were interesting. There were many different artworks in different styles and mediums, brightening up the place as only beautiful art can and making landmarks out of old walls and faded steps. Impressively, there is relatively little vandalism though the thing that struck me the most was the dirty mark on each piece where years' worth of tourists have stood in the same place to take photos. An odd way to feel connected (and maybe a tad unoriginal) but it is what it is.

Visit earlier in the morning when the rest of Seoul is asleep for a quiet walkabout and less photographer competition so you can take 5 minutes perfecting that pose (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...)

[/one_half] Ihwa Mural Village, Korea, Seoul, Ihwa-dong

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