I decided to do what Stuck in Customs does and got myself a SmugMug account. It eases up the burden on my server, it doesn’t degrade image quality the way WordPress does, and I love being able to blow the image up on wider screens. Still learning the ropes, but so far, I’m quite impressed with the service. If you’ve got a camera, check it out.
Anyway, I was browsing through Nightview—as I am wont to do—when I came across this spot in Ihwa-dong near Naksan Park. Strolling about Ihwa-dong is to return to an earlier epoch in Korean history. One of Seoul’s few remaining daldongne, the poor hillside villages that sprung up in the post-war era, Ihwa-dong is a claustrophobic neighborhood of narrow alleys and humble homes navigated by steep flights of stone and concrete steps that climb the slopes of Mt. Naksan, the peak that at one time marked the
western eastern limits of Seoul. The age and what I will call the romantic decrepitude lends the place a certain aesthetic charm, which can see in the photos here. In 2006, public art experts and local residents teamed up to beautify the neighborhood still further with the Ihwa-dong Art Project, which brought some much-needed youthful spirit. From what I understand, however, the area was designated a redevelopment zone a couple of years ago, so I wouldn’t count on it remaining like it is for too much longer.
About halfway up the village there’s a “p-turn” that’s popular with nighttime photographers. Of course, there isn’t a whole lot of traffic up here, so you’ve got to do a bit of waiting, but the results are worth it. Bring your wide-angle lens. To get to the overlook, climb the steps leading to Naksan Park until you reach the “flower stairs” with the robot-like mural at the bottom. At the bottom of the steps, enter the alley to the right, follow it to the end and you’ll reach the spot. It took me some exploring and asking around to find it–hopefully, you won’t have to.
Getting There: Ihwa-dong’s entrance is a short walk from the Ihwa-dong Intersection, which in turn is not far from Exit 2, Hyehwa Station, Line 4.