The neighborhood that seemed like it was on life support for years has finally met the end. It was inevitable; I remember walking around the area in 2017, spotting empty buildings back then, some used as community dumpsters. After discovering the news on Instagram, Isaiah went over to reconfirm. The Calligraphy School is gone, as is the Photographer’s House, a place I forgot to mention in my last post of Hak-dong. It was a treasure trove of photos that spanned the entire career of local photographer Jo Do-hyeong. Isaiah wrote about the man for the July issue of Gwangju News. In the collection were some old family photos. I imagine them dating back to the colonial era. Here is just a small sample of what we found that day in July:
Our final visit to Hak-dong occurred in late October. We made sure to pay our respects to the Calligraphy School; not much changed, except it was a bit messier from our July visit. We found a large, framed calligraphy piece we didn’t see the first time. I also got a better picture of a beautiful landscape painting from this visit. Again, it’s a shame to see these things go to waste.
Hak-dong always had hidden secrets for those willing to let curiosity lead them. Every trip to the neighborhood led to some fantastic discoveries, this last trip in October being no different. The first part of this post will focus on our first stop of the day, a memorable shaman’s house. It was a wonderful place to explore because of the numerous bujeok placed all over, the vividly decorated shrine/altar with prayers written in hanja phrases all over the space. Stickers advertising products, like rice cakes, fruit, and even entire pigs; in short, all things a shaman needs to perform a gut cluttered the wall next to the telephone.
In part 2, we shall take a peek into some of the other Hak-dong houses we explored that day.