As someone who lived in Seoul for many years, I have my spots to visit and to avoid. If you want to escape the party scene and crowds in Itaewon and Hongdae the best time (in my humble opinion) is to go in mid-morning on a Saturday or Sunday. I will totally hit up the Lomography store in Hongdae around 11am. I will eat at Plant or one of the many other tasty vegan restaurants in the Itaewon in the early afternoon. The older I get, the more I want to avoid crowds. It becomes overwhelming being crammed together with masses of people.
On the other hand, when I go to Dongmyo Flea Market, the photographer in me relishes the opportunity to take candid photos of mostly elderly folks focused on finding a bargain or a piece of cherished nostalgia. Buyers are who are eye-shopping (window shopping) are concentrated and don’t notice when a foreigner is taking their picture. I feel comfortable in old, crowded markets in Korea. Namdaemun Market was another place where the crowds don’t bother but enhance the experience.
Namdaemun Market sits a few stops away Chungmuro on line 4. Chungmuro is heaven for camera nerds and hub for printing needs. The commercial district is also photogenic with the modified motorcycles and workers in motion. It isn’t a trip to Seoul without checking out an abandoned neighborhood! I went back to check on a large residential area near Ehwa Women’s University to see if there was anything to explore. This local spreads out and over an entire hill. On one side sat the memorable Yellow Building once provided daycare and education opportunities for elderly residences. Since then that entire had been demolished, but back in late 2016, it was an urban explorer’s paradise. My previous attempt of exploring the other side was not as blissful. I was met by a security guard who wanted me to erase the pictures on my phone, I just acted like a confused tourist and walked away. The results were different this time, but I still walked around leery of security and cameras. These pictures were shot are crisper as they were shot on a fresh roll of Fuji Superia Venus 800. Finally, I needed to hit up Jogyesa for spiritual and aesthetic needs. It’s become part of my personalized tour. Every time I want to document to multicolored architecture and practicing Buddhists. With expired slide film loaded in a waterproof camera, I set about collecting images. The nature of expired film combined with the makeup of slide film, made these images look nostalgic and dreamy. The majority of today’s pictures were shot on Kodak Ektachrome 100 Plus EPP.
A lot of ground was covered in twenty-three hours. Still so much that will be waiting for me on my next visit. The Pancake House in Itaewon immediately comes to mind. Maybe I should challenge myself and stay only 22 hours next time around.