From Dust to Dust: The Haengdang-dong Redevelopment Zone

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Another week, another post documenting a doomed neighborhood on its last legs. I’m running out of words to say about these places. It’s best to let the pictures speak for themselves and interject with text when appropriate. The basic facts are that I’ve been exploring Haengdang-dong redevelopment since early June. The first demolition of a building occurred sometime in the new year, and by my last visit in February, sixty percent of the area had been razed. 

The First Scrape, witnessed on January 10th.

Here are a set of images from a solo visit on January 1st. I was able to get into a shaman’s house I’d wanted to get into since I first discovered it back in June. I found lots of nick-nacks that day.

A lotus with bujeok style motif. I had never seen one like that before.
I thought the bujeok lotus was going to be the lone highlight of the place, then I went around back and found this vibrant scene.

It isn’t an exploration until you find bujeok!

Along the way, I found a slide film roll-shaped toothpick dispenser.

I finally got into the church I used as a landmark from an Instagram post to discover this place in June. There was not much to see inside.

I stopped by the house with the skull letterhead but couldn’t locate them. However, I did find this boarding pass from Russia.

Workers hadn’t made much progress when I returned on January 10th with my wife; ice and snow blanketed the area making hilly sections tricky to navigate, but I’m happy to report no significant falls during our time exploring.

Sometime between January 11th and our return on February 13th, demolition progressed significantly. The park was gone. Most of the buildings I had explored were leveled, including the shaman’s house.

A crater lies where the playground equipment once stood.
Down below, in the foreground, stood the remnants of a shaman shrine that once had historically important documents. The former caretakers relocated the documents to an unknown location.
Seoul city government and Seongdong-gu designated the shrine a significant location at one time.
The shrine built using traditional construction methods and adorned in dancheong motif is scattered haphazardly around its former location.
A newspaper from 1989.

The church on the top of the hill remained occupied until the very last moment. On our previous visit, I was hesitant to go near, thinking it might still be active. Jon’s recent tour of the church confirmed otherwise. Perhaps I will visit Haengdang-dong one last time to see and experience it myself. 

The church, looking up through a crater on the other side of the hill.

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