Much like the circus on Jeju Island, this school had been on my to-do list for quite some time. In August, I took the train from Gwangju to scout the place first and make a go at it if an opportunity presented itself. That day I was getting bad signs all around. When it wasn’t an entry point that felt too exposed to enter, it was fear of getting bit by a snake after observing a slithering serpent while exploring a potential entry. Encountering farmers taking back the unused land further sunk my hopes of gaining entry that day. The biggest mental wall was the active penitentiary a short walk down the road. As I walked the perimeter of the school, signs put up by the prison discourage walking through the field and into the forest to access the school. Those signs brought an end to the day. I thought it would be better to come back on a major holiday like Seolnal. Here are the photos from that day. The former industrial high school opened in 1979 by a textile factory on the same plot of land. It was built to provide students education and an opportunity for a future career in the (at the time) thriving textile industry. In the ’90s the industry began to decline, and so fewer students enrolled in the school. The school closed in 2005 with a graduating class of twenty-one students. The area itself was not in a desirable part of town. In 1984, a new penitentiary opened down the road from the school. I couldn’t gather any information in regards to new prison leading to the slow decline of the school. Even before the prison was constructed, the land was unappealing for housing developers. Today, Boo Young Housing Group sits on the land. The factory, like the school, is slowly becoming reclaimed by nature. Unfortunately, the sight of a parked security guard spooked me from exploring any further than the school. Despite all the hanging icicles, the day was unseasonably warm. I got by just fine with a hooded sweatshirt. I worked up a sweat hiking up and down embankments, finally gaining entry shimming under a fence. It was only after I got home when I perused other explorer’s videos and pictures. When looking at a friend’s 2010 photos, I was shocked at how little fenced surrounded the place. In the eight years since my friend’s first visit, Boo Young has done their damnedest to make it impenetrable, yet there remain opportunities for the adventurous.
Even though it’s being abandoned for over a dozen years, the school has many artifacts left to see. Dumb graffiti notwithstanding, this is a place still worth a visit. Next time I’m in the area, I would like to explore the factory part and will report back to you, dear reader, of my findings.
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