This post is number one hundred. It’s a milestone worth acknowledging, and I want to thank all the people who have taken the time to read my posts over the last two years. I am glad that I have found an audience interested in what I do here. Long Distance Runner is going strong. Korea being Korea, there will be plenty of urbex/ redevelopment zone adventures to report, along with a scattering of non-urbex picture essays. In fact, I will tell you right now post number one hundred one will be about old bas-relief Buddhist carvings. I just need to get my photos developed, which I will do this next week. Again, thank you for taking the time to read or comment on my blog. It means a lot to me. Now, on with today’s post about Imun-dong, a place I had been investigating since December 2019.
The above picture was taken in early Spring 2020, all of the houses stretching into the background are now gone. A bit outside of the image on the righthand side is Hanguk University of Foreign Studies Station. This picture was taken from the roof of the Imun-dong Won Buddhist temple that had been evicted a few months earlier. The temple was not hard to miss, as this stretch of line 1 is above ground. The circle emblem of Won Buddhism sticks out prominently over the metal Korail barrier. The scaffolding constructed around the building was also a dead give away of the area being cordoned off for redevelopment. My eyes lit up as I saw this from the station. From this point on, I got off one stop early and began to take pictures of the temple from various angles. This one is my favorite shot of the building made at the height of Spring.
Not much was left to see inside; what wasn’t brought with them was left for the demolition workers. It was my first time inside a Won Buddhist temple, and it definitely had more churchy vibes than a traditional Korean Buddhist temple. Less vibrant colors and more of a focus on minimalism, and I’m not saying that because it was empty. There was a lot more restraint in regards to the overall look and feel of the place.
Strangely, it took me so long to discover this abandoned temple. I must have been sitting on the train with my back to this area since I started visited the Imun-dong neighborhood in December 2019. On my first three visits, I exited from Sinimun Station and walked to the parts I had seen in Instagram posts. It was around this area I found many hanoks that were built in the 1950s. I wrote about those discoveries here and here.
The most fantastic discovery from this neighborhood was an abandoned Buddhist temple called Samhong-sa. I wrote about it almost immediately after I discovered it around Buddha’s Birthday of this year. I visited two times before it was raided and looted of its beautiful artwork and Buddhas. If you pick up an August 2020 issue of Gwangju News, I wrote more in-depth about my experiences exploring the temple.
Another memorable experience was going down an alley to access an abandoned Shaman’s place and finding another one tucked in the corner behind my intended destination.
Here are some photos of the surprise Shaman House.
In total, I visited Imun-dong twelve times. I will do my best to pare down the photos that capture its essence. I have a lot of material to work with, its possible I might make a zine dedicated to my explorations of the neighborhood.
Here is what Imun-dong looks like the last time I visited at the end of June. This quite possibly was one of the largest rubble fields I had ever encountered in all my time exploring.
I’ll leave you with a few videos to get a sense of the walk through these places. Thank you for reading. Here’s to one hundred more adventures!