I thought there wasn't any more to discover in the Hyehwa-dong neighborhood. I have gone up and down the main road, visited and enjoyed Pinoy cuisine at the Pinoy market, dined at the Daehang-no restaurants, had coffee at the numerous cafes and have even visited the hospital and the university in the area. But I was wrong.
And I thought once you see one neighborhood in Seoul, you've seen all. I was wrong again.
Because on one cool autumn Sunday, when I headed down again to Hyehwa-dong, I discovered the hidden alleys of Dongsung-dong and Ihwa-jang, that neighborhood right next to Naksan Park, where, the walls, the homes, the stairs, or practically the whole area was turned into an art gallery of sorts where artists and sculptors contributed their talent by painting and creating these colorful and interesting art forms, and placed them everywhere!
According to the Visit Seoul website, this was the result of the Naksan Public Art Project under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. And as I was really impressed at the transformation, I say that the project succeeded in elevating an otherwise bland-looking neighborhood (one that looks like any other) into a must-visit tourist spot.
A heaven for tourists and photographers!
And overlooking this neighborhood is the Naksan Park, where in its Naksan Gallery, I was educated about its history. In 1996, the city government rehabilitated the whole neighborhood because after the war, this place was full of apartment buildings and houses laid out in poor urban planning. The area lost its historical character and natural scenic beauty. So, they decided to overhaul the whole place. (I am writing a separate blog for Naksan Park itself).
After roaming this neighborhood, I decided to visit this place every once in a while as it is a tourist spot which is always alive as people actually live in it! It has colorful and sometimes funny drawings, stairs which connects the neighbors living up in the hills with those on the lower levels (and also serve as exercise ramps for all!), and offers another view of the city and the NSeoul Tower!
So, if I want to see another character of Hyehwa-dong, one that's quieter, I know where to go.
P.S. The Ihwa-jang neighborhood is just behind the Marronnier Park. From Exit 1 or 2 of Hyehwa Station, just walk inside the inner streets and you will chance upon the signs with arrows to Naksan Park.
Part of the adventure is not to follow a map. Just go up and down the stairs, go in and out of nooks and crannies of the neighborhood. And I hope I will bump into you at one of the narrow alleyways.
(Interesting art installations that overlook Hyewha-dong.)
(An imaginary bridge between Naksan Park and
the NSeoul Tower)
(I wish they'd clear this wall.)
(I wish this car was parked somewhere else.
It's blocking the art piece. Ha-ha-ha!)
(You can write down what you want to do 'before you die'.)
(A neighbor's persimmon tree.)
(A painting of a dog peeping from a window)