‘Ihwa Mural Village is a small neighbourhood in Seoul. It’s an extremely popular attraction north of the Han River, famous for its colourful street art…’
Ihwa Mural Village sits at the top of Mount Naksan and is also known as ‘moon city’. This comes from the fact Koreans believe its height makes it closer to the planet. When you visit, be prepared for a steep climb to the top; there are a LOT of stairs.
Back in 2006, Ihwa village was a derelict neighbourhood, largely occupied by poor families, and was planned for demolition. The Ministry for Culture then stepped in with and included Iwha in the ‘Art in the City’ campaign, which revitalised the area with street art. The village is now home to many colourful murals, representing around 70 different artists.
Although the murals have helped to transform the fortunes of the village, the art project has had its down sides. The spike in visitor numbers hasn’t been welcomed by everyone. Understandably, some residents feel they’ve lost the privacy they once enjoyed. In 2016, a few of the best-loved murals were painted over. Since then the city, government, and the artists, have vowed to work in closer consultation with locals.
It’s not only murals that can be seen in Ihwa village, however. The area also has some cute stores and restaurants in vibrantly coloured buildings. If you make it all the way to the top of Mt. Naksan, you can also walk along Seoul’s city walls and gain incredible views over the crowded city below.
Please be aware when visiting Iwha village that the painted buildings are people’s homes. The residents, and their property, deserve respect. Walk around quietly and do not photograph the local people without their permission.
These are a few photos from our afternoon in Ihwa Mural Village.
How to get there / Metro / Line 4 / Hyewah Station (Exit 2)