Abandoned Neighborhood, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul (Part 1)

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This neighborhood in Dongdaemun-gu of Seoul is an area I am currently keeping my eyes on. Right now, this is the neighborhood that shall not be named, I’ll be more forthcoming once this place has bitten the dust. Its final destruction is still a year or so away. Demo crews continue to put up tarps and pile up former residents’ stuff.  The area is mostly residential but has a fair amount of commercial spaces as well.  I have visited three times and, despite the coronavirus, plan on exploring as many times as possible until its gone. The types of houses vary from small studio apartment complexes to traditional hanoks. Tons of cats live here, and the neighbors or other diligent folks have set up feeding stations throughout. Jon, it’s still a good idea to bring some canned food, neighborhood cats rely on dry food at this point.

I’ll start with my first visit on December 15th. I caught wind of this evicted neighborhood through Instagram and planned to scout and explore lightly, just to get the lay of the land.

This was the first street I turned down from the main path.


Love the pink and white tiles!
One of several hanoks that caught my eye. This had a piece of rope with a highly complicated knot. With neighbors still walking around, this was a no go…for now.
Here is another, once used as a traveler’s lodge. Notice the lock, it’s no go.


Some beautiful hanoks in this part of the neighborhood as well.
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The friendship apartments.


The friendship apartments are now a garbage bin.


A former shaman’s residence.

On January 12th, I returned to make more effort to get into any of the buildings, especially the hanoks I saw on my first visit. I also found an abandoned tattoo studio! IMG_2389IMG_2390

I love the old Fujifilm Logo on Min’s Video.
Makeshift bujeok.
Success! I made it into the pink and white tiled hanok. Not much to see except the beautiful wood details.


It was quite a fruitful exploration. I discovered another hanok I hadn’t see the first time and got in without any trouble. 013100500032013100500031013100500028

Double Happiness coated windows.

013100500024013100500023013100500025013100500029The most recent visit came on January 26th with my wife. It was light on infiltration and more on walking paths I had never walked before. We did get into the traveler’s lodge hanok that had previously been padlocked. Someone searching for scrap to sell must have broken it.013100500015

Goodbye, Miss A! We hardly knew ye!
Pressure point chart for the ear.


The friendship apartments from another angle.

Here is the traveler’s lodge. It was composed of ten tiny rooms. It had been picked clean. We had our shit startled by the bell hanging on the door.013100500014020100430005200201020100430014200201


Horseshoe, a good luck Irish charm paired with a good luck charm from Asia.


Now, for some artsy double exposures.
And another one.


There is one house I am biding my time to get into. It’s covered in barbed wire, so scaling the wall is not an option. With time and patience, I know the door will eventually be knocked down. I want to get a better look at the tile work.


The blue tiles form the hanja character 福 (bok) for luck.

This neighborhood is prime for exploring. I’ll keep you updated in a future post.




6 Replies to “Abandoned Neighborhood, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul (Part 1)”

  1. I am surprised there are areas like that at all. I used to live near there I think, back in 2005. I am looking forward to seeing more photos.

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