This quaint little neighbourhood in South Korea with beautiful murals makes for an excellent summer afternoon haunt.
Ihwa Mural Village is located in Ihwa-dong, between Daehangno and Naksan Park. The mural village, driven by efforts of the local government, was birthed when a group of artists were tasked with the job to decorate the village with murals to inject new life and energy into the once sleepy neighbourhood.
Aside from colourful murals hidden at unexpected corners of the village, there are now also a couple of unique cafes that have set up shop in the village, making it an attractive place to visit even for Seoulites. Recommended time to visit is from the afternoon until early evening.
In the morning, the cafes won’t be open, but it will be less crowded. Personally, I highly recommend this as a summer day trip because it’s quite hilly and high up in the area, and also there is quite a lot of vegetation and shade in the neighbourhood, so even if you spend and entire afternoon combing the neighbourhood, taking photos, it won’t be get too hot.
The fun part is trying to figure out where the next mural would be — should I go down this flight of stairs, or turn left into that alley there? And if you’re tired, have some tea at one of the cafes, or grab a drink from the local store and (attempt to) make conversation with the ajuhmma manning the store.
Cafes and cute mural paintings aside, the real draw to me though, is that this is a real neighbourhood. Despite it being such a ‘made-up’ or ‘created’ kind of space, there are real residents, real families living there — It’s what gives the village a lot of soul and authenticity, making it very intimate and special.
After spending time at the village, you might want to have a meal or catch a play at the Daehangno (or University street) neighbourhood on your way back to Hyehwa station. Lunch is incredibly tasty and starts from only a bargain 4500 won, a really delicious but budget way to end your summer day trip.