Ihwa Mural Village in Hyehwa

Ihwa Mural Village (이화 벽화마을) is a fairly well-known tourist spot right in the middle of the really popular Hyehwa area, but for some reason I had never been there before, in all the time I've been in Korea. This weekend, however, I'm happy to say I finally visited, and it was worth it!

Actually, after finding a much smaller-scale version of one of these 'mural villlages' near Achasan the day before, I decided to make it my new project to try and visit as many of them as possible from now on. I had already really enjoyed looking around the 'Ant Village' on the edge of Inwangsan, and Suamgol in another region of Korea, and it seems there actually loads of these old mountainside villages that have been dolled-up with colorful murals, instead of being demolished, re-built and modernized.

So, to add to my list of these painted villages, I definitely had to take a trip to what is probably the most popular one in Seoul, Ihwa Mural Village. Plus it's like a 20 minute bus ride from my house, so I really had no excuse not to go.

Painted flowers ...

... real flowers ...
... and fake flowers.

I went there around midday on a Sunday, expecting the place to be crammed full of tourists, but actually it was pretty quiet. This was a big relief, as was the discovery that the place is still essentially just an old residential neighborhood, and hasn't been re-vamped to the point of becoming nothing but another commercialised tourist attraction. Yes, there are more cafes here than you might find in a residential area that hasn't been painted from top to bottom, but on the whole it was mostly just houses.

If you're the kind of person who enjoys just wandering around cities, like I do, this is a great place to do just that. It really captures the feel of Seoul: a hodge-podge of new, old and very old buildings, sweeping city views contrasting with quirky little details like the painted walls, a sense of nature never being too far away, and of course plenty of places to buy coffee.

What else can you do in the area?

Ihwa Mural Village is right next to Naksan Park (낙산공원), one of Seoul's many large and beautiful hilltop parks. There are some truly gorgeous views of the city from up here.

You can also follow a walking trail along the Naksan section of the old fortress wall, which stretches from around Dongdaemun station up to Hansung Univ. Station, and passes around both the mural village and Naksan park on the way.

Of course, there is also all the fun stuff in Daehangno (대학로, 'University Street'), the area immediately around Hyehwa station, which is one of the main areas in Seoul for drinks, food, shopping and going out. It's also known for being Seoul's theater district, so you can go and see a play or some other live performance.

Altogether this is one of my favorite areas in my favorite city!

View from up on Naksan
And of course, nowhere in Korea is really worth a visit unless it has some poop-themed sculpture ...

To get to Ihwa Mural Village, come out of Hyehwa station exit 2, walk a little way and then turn left after the colorful poop art (above).


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