A Tiny Redevelopment in Seongbuk-gu

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If memory serves correctly, Jon discovered this place on the way to/way back from Peter Bartholomew’s funeral. Many Korean media outlets wrote about Peter’s passing, and I shall direct you to some of the writings by people who knew him better. Still, if you had any interest in Korea, notably hanok, Peter was the guy to direct your questions. He was passionate and ornery concerning modern Korea’s indifference to preserving the past. I enjoyed the Peter’s lectures to the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch; they were equally full of fire and outrage towards modern Korea and the Japanese colonizers. I’m curious what he would have said about the state of the hanok in this redevelopment in Seongbuk-gu.

Most of the hanok in this area have extensive modelization, so it was hard to pinpoint their age.

Within our little group of urban explorers are people knowledgeable in traditional Korean/colonial-era architecture. At this point, I can notice older houses, but that’s about it. I wish my hanok expert friends could join me on an exploration every single time, helping identify the year of hanok we find at a site. Usually, I’ll share pictures of what seems old. For example, friends were able to date this house back to 1936:

Despite its small area, there’s a lot seen, and we’re waiting for more buildings/houses to open up. In particular, I patiently hold on for the day I can go into this small temple/shaman’s house, formally known as Bo Kyeong Sa. It will be nice to get a clearer picture of the Kwan Seum Bosal (Guan Yin) mural painted on the bathroom wall.

As you might know, I’m quite an enthusiastic bujeok finder. I will go ANYWHERE to see variations of bujeok I’ve never seen before. Whether it’s risking entanglement in spider webs, picking out brambles from my clothes, or entering mold-infested rooms, I will go through it to find any shamanic trances. I am blessed to have a wife willing to go through such obstacles. Here are some bujeok found in the moldiest house I’ve ever wandered through.

Here’s another house that I am looking for an opportunity to see inside of once the time is right. I’ve seen it from the front and the back; the sharp glass-edged wall prevented me from hopping over.

Finally, I offer an assortment of pictures shot during the four times I’ve visited. The last time we had a group of seven with us. While I’m hesitant to explore with a large group, it all worked out. The area is small enough to see most of it and then move onto another location, which we did that day. We will conduct extended visits when the demolition workers begin the redevelopment process in earnest in the future.

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