All People and Animals Fleeing Redevelopment are Refugees (Dongjak-gu, Seoul)

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Wow, pardon my extended absence from this site. Lately, life has directed me in other directions, but I haven’t stopped exploring—so many explorations to write here for future posts. Two weekends ago, I was down visiting Isaiah down in the Jeollanam-do and will do a post of one of our explorations soon. In the meantime, I have visited new redevelopments, one of which I will present here today, and checked in with others still waiting for demolition.

I entered through this direction, the older side of the neighborhood.

I went on a solo mission to this Dongjak-gu neighborhood on November 13th, after finding out about it through Instagram. It’s not far from the old Bamgol Moon Village site, though long gone and super expensive apartments are now in their place. On a warmish November weekend, I explored this neighborhood on a hill; one side is older and filled with one-story houses in various states. I loved exploring this side for its seemingly endless maze narrowing, meandering alleyways. It was built in an era before urban planning was a thing. The other, new (70s/80s era) side is a bit more modern; many brick jutaek houses and apartments. In my opinion, blander and less catchy to the eyes and imagination. That said, I try not to let external appearances be an overall factor when exploring abandonments.

I took a moment to admire the beauty of this abandoned home. Someone put in the time and effort to brighten up their neighborhood, even if it was just their home. Even though the pastel paint is chipping away, the floral tilework work in tandem to brighten up this small neighborhood section.

Let’s have a look around this area. I will need to make multiple visits in particular to this section. Many of the houses are similar to homes I found while exploring Imun-dong, probably dating back to the 60s.

As I worked my way up from one side of the slope, I noticed this jarring mural of refugees.

Upon seeing this mural for “Faithful Refugees” who are “courageous” and “brave,” I felt dread and sorrow for the refugees of this once lively neighborhood forced to flee not because of war but in the name of “progress.”

It turns out a Christian organization dedicated to helping refugees in war-torn countries are economic refugees themselves.

If you visit this place, you will find it has many twists and turns. Once atop the hill, I found many winding narrow pathways like this.

There are many human refugees in a neighborhood redevelopment project, but let us not forget the furry, four-legged refugees of the feline kind.

I doubled back after walking down that path, walking past the cat foursome. The two young ones ran for shelter while the two elder cats leered at me. I walked down another steep-sloped path but came across this dead-end:

Are there any refugee dogs in the neighborhood? A non-conventional spot to place a dog’s shelter. I opened the door to this place but thought better of going any further; there might still be someone at least squatting in the home.

Here are a few more pictures from that visit. I also have included two videos I shot walking up the steep pathway that provided a spectacular view of the newer side of the redevelopment.

I have some bad news and good news. The bad news is that my wife and I are currently serving a government-mandated ten-day quarantine in our apartment because we came back from the U.S at the worst possible time. We can’t go anywhere! I can’t go to work (well, thats not too bad for me, and my wife can work from home), let alone explore for the next ten days. The good news is that I can write more blog posts during this quarantining and work on the fourth issue of The Bulldozed Future. It would be great to get the fourth issue out before the end of the year. I got a lot of time to work, so I cross my fingees in hope.

Stay tuned for the next post as I will write about visiting ANOTHER abandoned university in Jeollanam-do.

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