Jeongneung Sky Apartments, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul (1969-2017)

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Since my last post was about documented apartment complexes before their demolition, I thought I’d share photos from my exploration of the Sky Apartments before meeting the end.

The Sky Apartments opened to the public in Jeongneung-dong in 1969. Around this time, I was on a quest to photograph the oldest apartment buildings on their last legs. I missed out on the Okin Apartments, but fate allowed me to explore the Geumhwa and Gangnam Apartments before they disappeared. Unfortunately, I can’t find the photos I took from my exploration that day. Good luck smiles upon me, along with reliable iCloud storage, allow me to present you the pictures from my only time exploring the Sky Apartments on December 3rd, 2017. The flats were demolished a few weeks later.

Before the end, Kookmin University hosted a memorial space called “Goodbye, Sky Apartments,” that I missed out on. It included photos, architectural records, and interviews of former residents on display. Toward the end of the exhibition’s run, former residents would give a talk and then conduct a final tour, as if offering last rites. Can I tell you again how much I regret missing out on this?

In hindsight, It would have been wonderful to see this tribute to the underrepresented. The memorial space gave former residents a voice to express their stories. Most times, when I am exploring abandoned or soon-to-be-demolished neighborhoods, I know very little about the history of a place and have to concoct a narrative through the artifacts found.

Time has dulled my memories of the place, but I remember having a friend along that was a good sport about urban exploration. The individual units were cramped and moldy. I failed to find the room Jon found on his visit filled with lots of military mementos, which would have taken up a lot of the visit. The sun was setting, and we got spooked off by other people on the outside curious to take a peek behind the brown tarp. As soon as I saw their heads popped in, my friend and I made a beeline to our original entry point. I hope those visitors got to pay their last respects.

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