Arty wanderings in Hongdae

As always, street art sat high on my to-be-discovered list during my recent trip to Seoul.  My google and blog research had pointed me to the area around Hongik University, in the Mapo-gu district.  This young and lively area had already attracted me in my accommodation searching so I was staying nearby, ready for a pre-breakfast wander.

My sense of direction is not always the best, but the university entrance is striking and the campus is sizeable. However, finding the street art proved a bit more tricky.  There was no obvious sign of it close to the main entrance, so I set off for a meander in the streets around.

Pre-breakfast on a weekend tends to be quiet in student areas so I had the streets pretty much to myself, with just a few people off to work.

The woman pictured below was already hard at work. Lumbered with the task of collecting rubbish – hard and heavy work – she was clearly set for a challenging day. But another passerby appeared; he stopped to speak with her for a while and then helped her push her load up the hill.


Further on, below the university campus, another woman was setting out to sell her wares.  I had already noticed these electric scooters-cum-market-stalls making their appearance across the city, hopefully shaping a slightly easier life for street vendors.  This woman certainly got up the hill a lot faster than me.


Turning down the narrower alleyways, I spied some street art.



My hunt for more murals, plus now-needed caffeine, led me on.  A lively mural first…


and then the hope of coffee…


Sadly, it wasn’t the right time of day for coffee, or maybe not the right time of year, but the art now brightened my steps.


A brief chat with a couple of locals as I returned to the main entrance to the University, revealed that rental prices in the university area had risen and, as a result, many of the local artists who had decorated the walls not so long ago, have now moved to other areas of the city. Plus, many of the murals I had seen online previously had been on now-vanished hoardings around completed building projects.

Nonetheless, I had found some good murals, met some charming local people, and seen many friendly faces.





Copyright Debbie Smyth, 21 May 2018

Posted as part of Monday Walks

10 thoughts on “Arty wanderings in Hongdae

    1. I had a great trip – now catching up on work – and I need more (both time and work!)

      I felt sorry for that woman and other similar workers. I was so impressed by the guy that stopped to help her – he was not dressed for the part


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