Seoul is becoming increasingly known for its world-class art exhibits and museums, but inspiring visual art forms are not exclusive to just indoor galleries and spaces. Partly fueled by contributors from prominent art institutions such as Hongik University, SNU, and Korea National University of Arts, Ihwa Mural Village is a shining example of several culture initiatives that do exactly what they’re supposed to: revitalize failing neighborhoods while beautifying Seoul inside and out.
 

Iwha Mural Village

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How to revive a neighborhood:

IMG_8220Iwha-Dong used to be an isolated and lackluster neighborhood before the government decided to liven up the place with a cultural ministry project called “Art in City,” back in 2006. Over 70 students, artists, and local citizens participated in this project with the purpose of improving the living environment of residents while also giving them the opportunity to enjoy art at the same time. Thanks to this project the Iwha Mural Village has become one of the most visited attractions not only among tourists, but also for Korean couples, bloggers, and photographers. The area has been slated for redevelopment and many buildings have already been razed and rebuilt. Fortunately, 8 years later a large chunk of these murals have survived.

IMG_8228The village is a hilly area comprised of quaint Korean houses with narrow alleys. Located between Daehangno and Naksan Park you can find countless paintings beautifying the walls of the once sad looking area. It’s a perfect place to walk around and admire creative, vivid wall art. Most of the murals are easy to find, but there are also a few slick installations that make use of existing fixtures on the walls, so keep your eyes open and explore! Try strolling along the neighborhood on a leisurely day while taking in the sights with a date or your friends. It’s possible that you will discover a hidden mural that very few have seen!

Although climbing up all the walkways requires a bit of legwork, you can take short breaks in one of many charming coffee shops that are located in front of Naksan Park. At the top, you can enjoy beautiful angles of Seoul from the Seoul Fortress Wall (connected to Naksan Park) and take multiple pathways on either side of the wall to enjoy some nature and fresh air.



What to do after: 

Definitely check out the thriving Hyehwa neighborhood that has plenty of things to do. This vibrant district is known for its large theater roots (over 30 venues) and musical performances, and you can experience a wide variety of food and coffee shops while you roam the streets. Also known as Daehangno University Street, this area is sure to keep you entertained for hours.

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How
to get there:

Getting there is pretty simple, though finding all the murals might take a bit more effort and stamina. Ihwa Mural Village is located in Ihwa-dong, Jongno-gu. Take the subway line 4 and get off at Hyehwa Station (Exit 1). Follow the street leading to Naksan Park (there will be a sign). You will find the Lock Museum which you can use as your orientation point. Take the road that will lead you to Naksan Park and start exploring! If you get lost there will also be maps with directions that will lead you back.


Photo credit: Sue / RL of SeoulSync

Check out our other article on street art and The Rise of Urban Graffiti in Seoul! Some of our other favorite areas with wall art around Seoul are Buam-dong, Mullae Art Village, and Hongdae. What are yours?

About The Author

Sue Nguyen

Vietnamese born and raised in Germany. A dancer from Berlin with an artistic soul. Gifted with languages, she speaks 4 languages almost fluently. A professional at eating and a lover of Korean Cafe-Culture. You can find her in Coffee shops around Hongdae. Working with SeoulSync has helped unfold her creativity.