<How to Get There: Exit 2 of Hyehwa Station on Seoul Subway Line 4 (Light Blue)>
Iwha Mural Village is a popular attraction site due to its colorful murals. It is known as a daldongnae |달동네 (“moon village”) because its elevated location on a hilltop allows people to have a better view of the night sky than in the central (and flat) parts of the city. However, this also means that visitors must be prepared to climb up and down a lot of stairs and steep roads.
This mural village also has a history that is as interesting as its murals. Because people who couldn’t afford housing in the central parts of Seoul chose to live in Iwha-dong, the neighborhood consisted of mainly poor families and elderly people. This slum-like, decaying suburb was designated for demolition to make way for new development, but in 2006 the Korean government’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism carried out its “Art in the City” campaign in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood. With a vision to create a cultural space that attracted both domestic and foreign visitors, dozens of artists were commissioned to create 64 different artworks under the theme of “Mix, Connect and Get Together” (http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=1996703).
As a result, Iwha Mural Village witnessed an influx of tourists along with their liter, loud noises, and graffiti, which were not received well by the residents of Iwha. Consequently, about a year after the “Art in the City” campaign began, almost half of the murals were removed at the residents’ request (http://magazine.seoulselection.com/2015/04/01/ihwa-mural-village/).
However, the popularity of Iwha Mural Village continued to increase. In 2013 artists were recruited to add another 60 displays in Iwha, which increased the total number of artworks to over a hundred. Also, this village was featured in the KBS2 entertainment show 2 Days & 1 Night with Korean celebrity Lee Seung-gi and in the SBS Drama Rooftop Prince (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ihwa_Mural_Village). Dissent among residents of Iwha continued to increase with the rise of tourism, and in April 2016, they painted over some of the most popular murals in Iwha due to the lack of action take by the local government (https://thesoulofseoul.net/2017/04/25/ihwa-mural-village-seoul/).
Here are photos of some artworks (and decorated buildings) that remain in Iwha Mural Village as of August 2017:
The cafe on the left is clearly inspired by cats with its colorful tiles that feature cats on it (and the cat at the window!), and the building on the right is also a cafe.
Here is one of the wall murals that in Iwha Mural Village. In this mural couples have written their names which is indicated by the hearts in between or around their names.
Tourists are free to write in their own responses in chalk of what they would like to do before they die.
The left is the famous angel wings mural that was painted during an episode of 2 Days & 1 Night with Lee Sung-gi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ihwa_Mural_Village), and the right is another angel wings mural.
On the left are 2D balloons attached to the stone wall, and on the right is a scenic view of Iwha Mural Village.
Iwha Mural Village is a beautiful village with plenty of places that are perfect for taking photos. If you are interested in visiting Iwha Mural Village, check out this blog that has recommendations of some cafes and eateries nearby: https://thesoulofseoul.net/2017/04/25/ihwa-mural-village-seoul/.