Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wandering in Donam Dong (돈암동)

Since I'm at my new school, I've been exploring a couple of new areas near my school. One of these areas in Donam Dong, which is a part of a long walk I take from my school to central Seoul.

Walking through Jeongneung into Donam I saw a random temple. Located close to Gireum station exit 3, Bongkuksa (봉국사) is far from a must see in Korea, but if you are in the neighborhood you could check it out. It isn't far away from the road to be quiet, but the trees sure are beautiful.

Festival going on

Bell at the entrance

I then continued my wander through hill after hill in Donam dong. Seriously, I don't want to walk the same route everyday, but is walking along the subway line the only way to get from northern Seoul to the center without climbing hill after hill? One thing I noticed was an excessive number of new apartment buildings. I've complained about this before, but Seoul's awesomeness is a bit marred by these huge complexes that are all designed in the same way. Donam had some very cute and unique buildings. Like this:
This isn't the best example, but you get my point
Something about villas and outdoor staircases really does it for me. They are unique and they seem so cozy. Of course, I can see why someone wants a more modern apartment building with all the newest amenities. It is convenient, comfortable, and easy to show off to your neighbors. However, I think it is only a matter of time that the elites realize that a re-modeled villa could give the comforts of modern living with much more pleasing aesthetics. I wish this realization would happen sooner than later; on this walk in Donam, I saw what seemed to be a poorer neighborhood entirely demolished.
Looks more like post-war Korea than modern Seoul

I'm sure next time I walk through Donam this will be replaced by some fancy apartment building with a ridiculous name (like Human Ville ㅋ ㅋ ). But of course when you see this destruction you wonder who used to live here, whether or not they were able to leave by their own volition, how much money they were paid, and how much big corporations are going to make off their new land. Gangnam may have been impressive in its ability to turn from farm land to a sprawling metropolis in just 30 years, but northern Seoul has a hell of a lot more character, and doesn't need any more huge apartment complexes. I imagine there are local community organizers trying to preserve the local character, so I wish them the best of luck. 

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