2013년 10월 10일 목요일

Travel around seoul #3 (Buam-dong)

A Mountain Valley in a High Altitude Area Within the Innercity

Quiet neighborhood of buam-dong
Located at the foot of the eastern edge of Inwang Mountain, The name Buam-dong comes from the Buchim stone that was located in this area. The stone, with hive like holes, is said to have stood 2m high. Legend says that when you rub a small stone against the Buam stone, if the small stone sticks, a boy will be born into the family. The Buam stone was located at 262 street but was removed in 1970 when a nearby street was expanded.
Buam-dong became famous as the location of TV series such as "My Name Is Kim Sam-soon" and "The Coffee Prince Store No.1". As more people visited, various unique galleries and pretty cafes have opened up in the back alleys of the area. The town may be described as a place for people who prefer to escape the crowds and want to enjoy a more slow analog type ambience.
According to the brochures provided at the Buam-dong community center, the characteristics of this area are described as 'country living within a mountain valley in a high altitude, a traditional and conservative area with temples and cultural assets, a developmentally restricted area and an environmental conservation area'. It is a rare place within the city where the green zone accounts for 72% of the area.

Cultural Assets Such As Seokpajeong and Mugaejeong Site

To get to Buam-dong, take the 3rd exit of the Kyungbok palace station on the third subway line, and board a bus that passes through the Jahamoon tunnel. Get off the bus as soon as the bus passes through the Jahamoon tunnel and cross the road. After following the sky blue partition, a rusty steel door will appear. You can catch a peek of the roof of Seokpajeong over the front gate, but being personal property, trespassing is prohibited. Seokpajeong, which was used as a country house by guardian Heungsun, father of the King Gojong, is designated as the Seoul city tangible cultural asset No. 26
According to historical recordings, 'the yard of the Seokpa pavilion is wide, the woods are thick, and the scenery by season is outstanding with the flowers in spring and the maple leaves in autumn.' It is unfortunate that we cannot observe this upfront. Immediately after the Korean war, Seokpa was used as the Columba Orphanage and managed by the Catholic church.
When climbing the hill toward the Buamdong community center, there is the gallery Duru with its eye catching red wall, a wine shop called Petit Château, and Drop, a coffee shop. Enter the Mugaejeong site road which is just next to the Buam-dong community center. Though narrow enough that just one car at a time can pass through it, the street is quiet and has a touch of daintiness to it. When passing Owol (May), serving wine and pasta, and the Ann’s Namu (Tree), serving Jumeokbab (fist shape rice balls) and selling fabric props, I arrive at a shop filled with wild flowers called "Deulkkot Hyanggi (Wild Flower Scent)". This shop not only sells jars or flower pots, but you will also be able to taste rare teas such as Yiseul (dew) tea here.
After a short walk, Further into the alley, there is a traditional Korean-style house, but it is neglected and is in ruins. A violet wildflower is peeking out of a group of thick weeds, and as if they were lonely, some Spanish needles stick to the visitors’ clothes, not coming off easily. Birds nearby sing in a somewhat sorrowful tone and set a lonely mood. There isn’t a lot to see here, but if you want to check out the site, it is worth looking around. Before leaving, it would be a treat to stop by the water mill and try some Shikhae (Rice punch) or Sujeonggua (Cinnamon punch).

Changimoon, the Starting Point of the Tour of Bukak Mountain’s Seoul Citadel

Cafe Sanmotungi

Turn around and walk back from where you came from, and when the Buam-dong community center appears, turn towards Changeumoon. This street also has various charming cafes and galleries. Among them is Demitasse, selling coffee and chinaware, and a gallery uniquely named ‘Being Responsible for Being Curious’. The interesting thing is that across the gallery, and with the old fashion barbershop in between, there is a small café that has the same name as the gallery. Both the gallery and the café are managed by the same person. The reason why you can’t help but smile while walking down the street is because old fashion shops like Norano repair shop, Daesung barbershop, a western suits tailor shop, or a hardware store coexist with extremely modern cafes that are all similar in their small sizes. This is the unique feeling that Buamdong offers. The next stop is Club Espresso, now a famous landmark of Buamdong. Even those who haven’t heard about Buamdong have heard about the store’s great coffee. When entering the street around the corner of the café, you will encounter Changimoon. Changimoon is the north-western gate and is one of the four small gates of the Hanyang (an old name of Seoul) capital city. It was built in the fifth year of King Taejo’s regime of the Joseon Dynasty and has been standing in the place over 600 years. It is the starting point of the tour of the Bugak Mountain’s Seoul citadel. The admissions for the tour of the Seoul citadel are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the summer, while in the winter it is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Leaving the Changimoon behind and walking toward the Bugak skyway, you will find the Jahason dumpling shop. Upon choosing the Bugak mountain walk, you will meet a road called “Neunggeumnamu (crab apple tree) gil” and the Dongyang rice mill, which is famous for its king rice cakes and bean flour rice cakes. As a reference point, the road splits up, and while one path leads to the Hwangi gallery, the other path leads to café Sanmotungi (at the bend of a mountain),whice is famous because it was location for korean hit drama "coffee prince"

A Few Delightful Things Awaits at Neunggeumnamugil Road

When you walk along the Neunggeumnamugil road, pass by the signpost of café Sanmotungi until you are past the Mansu Oriental Medicine Clinic. You will meet a very distinctive house that Buam-dong might boast about. It is Art for Life. It might be hard to guess what this place is about even after you step into the narrow garden and porch. You may be quick to leave without the background knowledge that this house has a concert hall and a fabulous Italian restaurant. It is astounding enough that there is a concert hall deep in this valley. What is more, they have been holding house concerts every Saturday for 7 years now. On Tuesdays, the stage is set aside for Korean musicians with music careers overseas to help them set foot in Korea, and at 8 o’clock every Sunday, you can enjoy music while you have dinner. Just imagining it makes me feel good. The owner of the house is oboist Seong Pil-gwan, an ex-member of Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Seong serves organic vegetables he grows at his garden, and you can taste cheese homemade by the chef and his wife, flutist Yong Mi-jung. They purchased a funky, run-down Korean house and meticulously remodeled it themselves. You can even enjoy tanning in summer days.
When you walk further from here, you will meet Café Sanmotungi, a place that has become famous since a popular TV drama was shot here. If you follow the signpost of Engseonsa Temple, you will meet Beaksashilteo(백사실터)valley. This is a perfect place for escaping the scorching heat in the height of summer, for the water of this valley is so cold that you can feel chill down on your spine when you dip your feet in. Moreover, you will find no better place for your children to see and experience Mother Nature. It is known as a natural habitat of salamanders and narrow-mouthed toads.
If you walk alongside the Baeksashil valley, you will meet Duitgolmaeul(뒷골마을), a small village dubbed as “a country town within Seoul.” Eighteen households are living in this village, growing vegetables in their gardens. It was also called “neungeumnamugol,” or a town of crab apple trees, for there used to be many crab apple trees grown in this area. The organic crops villagers are raising and selling at Hyojadong market taste so good that they sell out like hot cakes.

Beaksashilteo valley

Buam-dong, an Alternative Neighborhood to Samcheong-dong

As Samcheong-dong is saturated with too many commercial installations, Buam-dong has started to get the limelight. It gained its fame since some TV dramas were shot in the neighborhood. But it cannot be all good because, if left to its own devices, the neighborhood might end up being propelled towards extreme commercialization. Those who feel pity for Samcheongdong being turned into a neighborhood of unknown nationality have the same concern about Buam-dong. Buam-dong is retaining indigenous features of its own, but we cannot put away the concern until it is maintained like it deserves. It seems that it is time for us to pay careful attention to this neighborhood before it is too late.

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