A Walk along Seoul Fortress Wall 서울성곽


Walk along the Seoul Fortress Wall, Naksan course

Last week, Baby M and I joined the AWC (American Women’s Club Korea) and SIWA (Seoul International Women’s Association) for a guided walk along Seoul’s fortress wall. Our tour guide, Mr. Choi, is the president of the Senior Public Diplomacy Group, which is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It was cold Wednesday morning, when we met at Hanseongdae Station (line 4) for the tour. In fact, the temperature had dropped 20 degrees fahrenheit within 24 hours! I made sure to bundle Baby M up — in fact, she was so snug in her coat and hat, inside the Ergo carrier that she promptly fell asleep once I started walking!


Seoul Fortress, Naksan course

We took the Naksan 낙산 path and walked up to Naksan Park, which afforded great views of Seoul. We then walked down through Ihwa Mural Village 이화 벽화마을, a cute artsy neighborhood, full of little cafes, shops and galleries, and of course murals. Apparently, just ten years ago, the place was considered part of the “slums” of Seoul, since the residents were poor and working class people who couldn’t afford to move to the more affluent areas of Seoul. The entire neighborhood was set to be demolished (to make room for the ubiquitous high-rise)! But instead, the city of Seoul chose to re-vamp the neighborhood, and in 2006, hired local artists to brighten up the neighborhood and make it into somewhat of a “tourist attraction.” And, it worked… People from around Seoul visited Ihwa to check out the murals and village.


Ihwa Mural Village — such a cute place!

But, the residents of the village weren’t happy about the change. The rise in tourism disrupted their quiet way of life (due to littering, noise pollution, etc.). Apparently, there were twice as many murals in the village at one point, but they’ve since been painted over at the request of the village residents! (In fact, the “iconic” stairs painted with life-like koi fish seems to be gone… at least we couldn’t find it. These painted steps have been featured in countless Korean dramas!)  The compromise? Signs asking visitors to respect the residents’ privacy and remind visitors to be quiet and keep the village clean.


Ihwa Village map

I definitely recommend a trip to see Ihwa Mural Village — it’s a unique place amongst the hustle and bustle of Seoul!


Seoul Fortress walk — on a sunny, albeit cold day

After walking through Ihwa, we crossed Cheonggyecheon 청계천 stream, and stopped at Dongdaemun 동대문 Gate. As the name implies, it’s the east gate, and Seoul’s best preserved. We ended the tour at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) 동대문역사문화공원, where we had Korean shabu shabu (hot pot) for lunch.


With Tricia in front of Dongdaemun gate (hidden behind the wall)

Read my previous post about hiking the Seoul Fortress Wall (back in 2013!): Hiking Mt. Umyeon (우면산) & Seoul Fortress, and First Movie in Seoul

That trip along the Seoul Fortress Wall was definitely much more intense than this leisurely stroll (AND we didn’t need passports or alien registration cards this time!!).

{ Seoul Fortress Wall trail, Naksan course 서울성곽낙산 } http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=1982051

{ Ihwa Mural Village 이화 벽화마을 } http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=1996703

{ Cheonggyecheon Stream 청계천 }


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