In the late spring of this year, I discovered a neighborhood beginning the redevelopment process. I always find something exciting in a residential district on its last legs. What makes this particular area unique is the Japanese colonial era hanoks hidden behind bland 80s era apartments and jutaeks. Months passed. It remained an anonymous, nameless abandoned neighborhood until the perfect, most obvious moniker emerged when I wrote an article about it in Gwangju News: The Hidden Hanoks Neighborhood. During this time, I christened two hanoks with distinct features pointing to Korea’s occupation in the early 20th century. Read more about it here.

The roof tiles of the Tatami Hanok, figure 1.
The kiwa of the Tatami Hanok, figure 2.
Flora growing on the roof of the Great Japan Hanok.
A detail of the Great Japan Hanok’s kiwa.
The mangwa that gives this hanok its name.

With this post, I am going to show you more of the Hidden Hanoks Neighborhood, which is, as of this writing still with us. The redevelopment process is unfolding slowly, which might be due to the abnormally long rainy season and/or the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. Another possibility is that developers are waiting for the last residents to move out. It might be a combination of all three. Whatever the reason, they started putting up the brown tarps not long ago. Many of the buildings are locked up and inaccessible, especially some hanoks I would really like to see before they are razed. In the mean time, here are some photos from previous explorations.

Hanoks, like this one, are hidden behind more prominent buildings. The only way to find them is a chance glance down an alley. This one is still active.
Weeds began to take over during the summer.
Trash has remained piled up for months. Not a place to visit if stinky smells bother you.
Discarded janggi pieces.
Once at the top of the hill, you get a good view of the Seoul city wall.
The current resident of the Great Japan Hanok.
Hidden tiger in a Hidden Hanok.
The brown tarps got knocked down during one of the many typhoons we had this summer.
Signs of life.

To be continued.

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