Readers! In this edition, we’re delighted to bring the art-lovers and gallery junkies among you a taste of what Seoul has to offer, and it certainly has a lot on offer for every kind of art enthusiast. Naturally, we want to share some of our favourite galleries, creative workshops and mural-covered neighbourhoods with you so that you can experience for yourself the colourful side of Seoul! Take a look below.
Place MAK (플레이스 막)
Open: 12pm ~ 7pm Tues-Sun | Address: 622 Yeonhee-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
Cleverly nestled between quiet residential buildings is placeMAK, a small contemporary arts studio that focuses on bringing interesting and unique art, sculpture, and film works to the public.
Since opening it’s doors back in 2010, placeMAK has expanded to many different locations and has kept providing a continual stream of stunning films and art exhibitions as well as creative workshops and intriguing contemporary performances.
Arario Museum (아라리오 뮤지엄)
Open: 10am ~ 7pm Tues-Sun | Address: 83 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Originally an architectural firm built in the early 70’s, the Arario Museum is now a popular art gallery that showcases many individual and up-and-coming artists from both Korea and overseas.
In 2014, this historical building was transformed into the creative space it is today – but instead of getting rid of the building’s old characteristics, the founder of the Arario Museum maintained the location’s rustic aesthetic, which gives the gallery a notable vintage vibe that goes well with its various exhibitions.
More than just an art gallery, the Arario Museum strives to make itself a global culture and arts centre that explores all aspects of contemporary art, from visual and film to music and dance. What’s more, the Arario Museum is just a short walk from Anguk Station and has a variety of concept stores that provide traditional Korean, Italian and French cuisine.
D Museum (디 뮤지엄)
Open: 10am ~ 6pm Tues-Sun | Address: 5-6, Dokseodang-ro 29-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Located in the hip neighbourhood of Hannam-dong, the D Museum is a creative space, with a rich history, where visitors can appreciate many different art forms, from contemporary photography to sculptures and inventive exhibitions.
Not only is this gallery an excellent place to visit, the D Museum also prides itself on their strong relationship with the surrounding neighbourhoods, hosting original and educational programs as well as creating opportunities for artists from overseas to promote their unique and experimental work – all round, the D Museum isn’t just an art gallery, it strives to give back to their community.
Open: 11am ~ 9pm Mon-Sun | Address: 162, Hannam-daero, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Also located in Hannam-dong, just a thirty minute walk from the D Museum, is Studio Concrete – a creative, multi-complex space that’s home to a diverse range of projects and exhibitions that inspires audiences to pursue creative pathways.
As well as having a cafe and shop space, Studio Concrete offers creative consultations for aspiring artists, both young and old, and encourages them to network and collaborate with other creative thinkers – which helps Hannam-dong’s already blossoming art scene to expand and bloom even more.
Dong-lim Knot Workshop (동림매듭박물관)
Open: 10am ~ 6pm Tues-Sun | Address: 10, Bukchon-ro 12-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Open: 10:00am ~ 7:00pm Tues-Sun | Address: 83 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Mural Villages and Art Neighbourhoods
Ihwa Mural Village (이화 벽화마을)
Located in the steep hills of Naksan Mountain, the Iwha Mural Village is a place that sometimes seems as if it’s been stolen right out of a fairytale – but it wasn’t always covered in beautiful artwork.
Over ten years ago, due to the area’s dismal looking appearance, Ihwa village was almost demolished until it was saved by the paintbrushes of various artists, who transformed this run down neighbourhood into a thriving tourist attraction.
Overseen by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ihwa village has become a hive of art and one of the top tourist attractions in Seoul – as well as a hotspot for aesthetic photoshoots.
Some of the village’s art includes the famous koi staircase, the popular Angel Wings mural, the mosaic stairs, as well as sculptures, walls and house-fronts speckled with colourful flowers, fun celebrity paintings and unique little characters that give an essence of magic to the otherwise mundane.
Mullae-dong Arts Village (문래동)
Although Ihwa is one of the go-to places for murals, the area of Mullae-dong is quickly becoming a haven for street art.
Although Mullae-dong has kept its rustic buildings, the neighbourhood’s vibe is certainly far from old – with new young artists opening different creative workshops and painting the old foundations of Mullae in bright new colours as well as enhancing the area’s industrial style with unique sculptures .
Despite some people still assuming Mullae-dong is a rather quiet neighbourhood, visitors will find the streets teeming with life – from its cosy cafes and trendy bookstores (like Caphe Saigon below and the popular Chichipopo Library-Cafe) to its many workshops and photo-worthy murals that bring this not-so-sleepy village to life.
It’s not only Ihwa that’s had a colourful makeover, neighbourhoods such as Gangnam, Yongsang and especially Itaewon have buildings, street walls and rooftops that are covered in unique and stunning artwork.
The artwork above, a collaboration between artists Soña Lee and Levi Jacobs, is one of the many murals featured in and around Itaewon. And yet a lot of murals aren’t always easily found on large buildings and walls, many more are huddled between alleyways, hidden on rooftops, share space with cafes and homes and are even painted on garage doors.
Not only is Itaewon filled to the brim with street art, the area is also densely populated with cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and is a beacon of adventure for both locals and foreigners.
Resting in the very heart of Seoul is Insadong, an area that has become known for its rich art culture – and since it’s home to around 100 art galleries, Insadong is a must-see for every art lover.
One of the top attractions in Insadong is Ssamzigil (쌈지길), a four-storey mall that sells everything from handcrafted gifts, modern and traditional artwork, and ceramic and painting workshops. It also features a number of famous cafes such as the ever-popular Poop Cafe.
But what makes Insadong particularly special to us is its labyrinth of secret alleys, where, whilst mindlessly walking through them, travellers will find a myriad of tea houses, traditional craft shops, cosy cafes and unique stores.
Then, on Saturdays and Sundays, Insadong’s main street is transformed into a bustling market and cultural space where visitors can admire the many different stalls – which include fortune telling booths, candy and pajeon (savory pancake) vendors, folk craftsmen and even traditional performances.
Overall, Insadong is one of the best places for travellers who have both a passion for art and a desire to experience Korean culture firsthand.
Feature Image Source: ©Iwha, Photo by Seoul Metropolitan Government, 07.09.2018, english.seoul.go.kr/ihwa-mural-village.com