Off the Beaten Path: Naksan Park and Mural Village in Seoul

Knowing that I love to take long walks everywhere I go my aunt wrote down for me a walking trail in Seoul she researched a while back.  I’d put it away somewhere along with maps and brochures and whatnot, and had nearly forgotten about it.  But on Monday while I was eating lunch and thinking about what I might do in the afternoon, it dawned on me that I could go find this walking trail.  So I went through my Seoul folder, found her note, tucked that piece of paper in my back pocket, and headed out to NakSan Park for a stroll.  She’d written down that I should start from DongDaeMun but I did the trail backwards, opting to end in DongDaeMun and return home via ChungGaeCheon streams.

I figured I may as well check out the University area at the base of the mountain called DaeHakRo, a place well known for small theaters for independent plays and musicals, art galleries, and hangouts for young people.  I took the subway to HyeHwa station and wandered around for a bit before heading up the hill towards the mountain.

Right by the subway station there was an open space where performance artists and singers were delighting the passersby.  It was a lively and vibrant area.

IMG_6830IMG_6831IMG_6834I saw signs for NakSan Park but got lost in the back streets of DaeHakRo, so I ended up having to ask a friendly police officer for directions.  I’d walked right past this sign moments before talking to the police officer!

IMG_6835I did enjoy getting lost in this neighborhood though.

IMG_6833

IMG_6836As I walked up the hill towards the park, I started to get better and better views of the city below.  Here in the foreground is a traditional Korean home, but in the distance you can see low rises and high rise apartment buildings of Seoul.

IMG_6837When I arrived at the end of the narrow trail, I found myself in the middle of this “Mural Village.”  벽화마을 ByukHwaMaEul in Korean.

IMG_6839My aunt’s note said “art village” so I wasn’t really sure what I was going to see here.  It wasn’t long before I spotted more street art all over the neighborhood.

IMG_6841IMG_6842IMG_6843IMG_6852IMG_6846I walked up and down the stairways and alleyways, looking for more.

IMG_6844IMG_6853This was one of my favorites.

IMG_6854Another narrow path…

IMG_6855Leading to another discovery.

P1130341And then another one.

IMG_6844IMG_6860View from the top of the stairs.

IMG_6856With the sun slowly descending and the evening chill rising, I made for the NakSan Park trail that runs along the fortress walls.

IMG_6863IMG_6861IMG_6862Every now and then I peeked through the stone wall to see what I could find on the other side.

IMG_6864P1130346P1130347It was fascinating to see the old Seoul still remaining and I enjoyed walking amongst the residents of this neighborhood.  I had been on the outside of the fortress but I passed through an opening back into the village to find this little community garden and an old lady tending to it.

P1130354P1130356

There were a few murals there, too.

P1130355P1130357

Back out by the walls, I saw a Buddhist temple floating amongst the sea of tall concrete forest.

P1130358P1130360The walk down was so peaceful and pleasant that I wished that it would go on for a while.  But before long, I was back in the noisy and crowded streets of Seoul.

IMG_6868My brother and our friend P. arrive in Seoul later this afternoon.  Since they don’t want to do anything “touristy,” I’m going to suggest that we go to Naksan Park for a walk.  Maybe in the morning this time.

Naksan Park: 서울특별시 종로구 낙산길 54 (동숭동50-111), 50-111 Dongsung-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul (map).  To get there, either start from DongDaeMun subway station exit 1 and walk up.  Or start from DaeHakRo, HyeHwa station exit 2.

The trail I did is called 낙산공원 성곽길 (NakSan GongWon SungGwakGil) and the name of the village is 이화동 (YiHwaDong), 벽화마을 (ByukHwaMaEul, meaning mural village).

About Naksan Park from Visit Korea website:  Naksan Park gets its name from its camel hump-like appearance. In Korean ‘nakta’ means camel and ‘san’ means mountain. So people refer to the park as Nakta Park or Naksan Park. The mountain is solid granite bedrock. The Joseon royal family enjoyed the natural beauty of the granite mountain, but during the Japanese Colonial Period a hasty manner of urban planning resulted in the demolition of most of the mountain. In an effort to save the remaining green belts, Naksan was designated a park on June 10, 2002. Located in the center of the Seoul, this historical and beautiful park allows its visitors to view the magnificence of the entire city.

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3 Responses to Off the Beaten Path: Naksan Park and Mural Village in Seoul

  1. Pingback: The Naksan Art Project, Seoul |

  2. Lim Kai Hong says:

    Hi,

    I’m really interested to do this trail. How long did you take to complete? Are directions clear?
    Where does the Naksan Fortress trail lead to? how did you get to the nearest subway after everything?

    Thanks!!

    • Hello there, sorry it’s taken me a bit to reply back to you. I’m traveling in Mexico… As for the walk, I think I spent maybe half a day, if not a few hours there because I wanted to find and see these street murals. If you’re not so keen on seeing them, you can easily just do the trail in an hour (or two max). You can use the DongDaeMun station for metro to start and end the trail or if you want to do what I did, you can check out the university area first (I used HaeHwa station) and then do the trail to get down from the top and end up in DongDaeMun. Hope you’ll enjoy the walk!

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