The village of Ihwa Mural is a charming and colorful place that offers spectacular views of the city, Seoul. It is situated on the base of Mt Naksan in Central Jongno-gu near the Naksan Park. Earlier, the Koreans called this village as Daldongnae, which literally translates to moon village. It is known as a moon village as it is located on the hillside, where residents can have unobstructed views of the moon.
Ihwa Mural Village (이화동벽화마을) is one of the hidden treasures of Seoul that captivates you with its mesmerizing charm. Every corner of the city is adorned with a brilliant work of art. Apart from the artistic beauty, the village brings the scenic views of the city. To experience the beauty of art and nature, Ihwa Mural is a must-visit destination. If you are on a visit to Seoul, you won’t regret spending a day in the village.
As you walk down the Seoul City Wall trail of Naksan Park, it will naturally lead you to Ihwa-dong Mural Village where you can find unique cafes and cute stores along its alleyway!
Turbulent History of Ihwa Mural Village
Origins of Ihwa Mural village is quite similar to the Busan’s Gamcheon Culture Village. The village was a place for settlement for people who couldn’t afford to live in flatter areas of Seoul. These were mostly textile factory workers. Even as the rest of the Seoul modernized and developed over the years, the village remained the same. This led to thoughts of demolition, but the plans changed in 2006.
The village became a beautiful place of attraction from the year 2006 when the local Public Art Committee started inviting artists to paint murals and create amazing sculptures. All the artwork was under the theme of “Mix, Connect, and Get Together.” It completely changed the look of the village and enhanced the quality of life. But, this brought in too much clutter for the local residents, and some of the murals and sculptures had to be destroyed.
So, in 2013, the government assembled artists once again, and this time they created the artworks in harmony with the residents. The privacy of the residents is respected, while the village itself is a piece of art!
In April 2016, residents got fed up by the noisy tourists and took their grievances to the local government. Upon no action by the said government, they painted over some of the most popular murals in the neighborhood.
As of 2020, most of the murals are intact, and not all of them are gone and forgotten. Some of the most famous murals painted on steep staircases are gone. However, the rest of the murals are intact, and some new ones have also been added!
Guidelines to consider while in the Mural Village
- It is a residential area, so be respectful of the resident’s privacy.
- Do not enter any premises unless there is a sign that explicitly states that you can enter. You will find signs like “Open” or “Come In” on the acceptable premises.
- As it is a residential neighborhood, do not yell and make overly loud noises so that you don’t disturb the residents.
- The same applies to taking pictures. If you are capturing a photograph of locals, ask them before you do that!
- Be considerate to the locals and be friendly by greeting them hello.
- Do not litter!
- Visit the village during regular hours as you would any other attraction.
Things To Do in The Ihwa Mural Village
At Ihwa Mural, you can enjoy a leisure stroll in the streets. Have fun at the alleys, take photos of stunning and incredible artworks, and relax at the cafes. A day in the village is unforgettable. The hillside view of the city from the village will fascinate you. You can also move around the art galleries and museums to explore the history of the place.
Some of the famous murals that have caught visitor’s attraction are angel wings, staircase leading to café Geppul, father and daughter street art, etc. The colorful village has now become an attractive destination having famous restaurants, museums, and cafes.
Famous Attractions of Ihwa Mural, Seoul
Naksan Park is one of the most sought after attractions of the city. You can enjoy a magnificent view of the city from the park staged with beautiful art sculptures. The village of Ihwa Mural is 10 minutes away from the park. It is a tranquil place located away from the bustling city. Named after a camel hump, the Naksan Park is a perfect place for trekking and enjoying a stroll with your loved ones. Here the visitors can walk along the Seoul Fortress Wall up to the Dongdaemun Gate. Naksan Park is famous for its filming location for the popular Korean dramas. The visitors can enjoy a splendid view of Daehangno from the peak and also enjoy the sunset from the hillside.
Naksan Public Art is a hub of Photography
A photographer can spend hours in the village, capturing one of the best-created murals by the local artists. The mesmerizing staircases, directional murals, and painted walls would blow your mind. You can spend hours posing against the paintings, especially at the staircases leading to cafes and restaurants. You can have a stroll in the streets and market places. Take a rest at the famous cafes, restaurants and enjoy a cup of coffee to warm up.
Expect queues at Angel Wings
One of the most famous murals are the Angel Wings. It was an overnight buzz when it was broadcast on a TV show. Whenever you visit here, you can expect a long queue at the Angel Wings for a photograph.
One of the most famous murals of Ihwa Mural village are the flower and fish staircases. The “mosaic flower” and “koi fishes” painted on the staircases were removed by the residents. It happened because the tourists were making noise and littering that made the locals unhappy.
The Mosaic Flower staircase, a considerable part of the street Yulgok-ro 19-gil, was featured in K-dramas like My Strange Hero (2018-19), Falling in Love with Soon Jung (2015), Ex-Girlfriends’ Club (2015), and many more.
The Koi Fishes mural was located on the stairs at Ihwajang 1na-gil in Ihwa. It became popular after it was used a filming location for K-drama Because This Is My First Life (2017).
Café Gaeppul [개뿔]
As a part of the Ihwa neighnorhood in Jongno district in Seoul, Cafe Gaeppul is popular amongst K-drama fans. Along with being a cafe, it also houses a small museum, which documents the history and structure of Naksan Castle and other buildings in Ihwa-dong through photographs and drawings. It has been featured in Korean dramas and movies like My First First Love (2019), Encounter (2018-19), Because This Is My First Life (2017) and Sensory Couple (2015).
Nearby Places To Explore
In Seoul, another place to stroll is Dongdaemun. Check out some fantastic food and shopping places such as Dongdaemun Design Plaza, where you can shop and eat at famous eating joints.
Naksan Mountain Trail
The hiking trail passes from the Naksan Mountain, which is the lowest mountain of Seoul. It is also known as the Camel Mountain. During the walk, you can explore different types of stones, indicating its construction through the ages. You can also enjoy the trail in all seasons, such as summer and autumn. The trail also passes through the Jangsu village, Naksan Park, and Ihwa Mural Village.
How to get to Ihwa Mural Village?
From Hyweha Station exit no. 2, walk straight and turn left. You have to walk straight until you see Di Matteo Pizzeria & Trattoria on your left. Now, you will see the village entrance, turn left, and then turn right to follow the Naksan hike trail. Soon you will come across the village entrance.