Mullae-dong: Art and Metal
Sparks were flying from every direction and the sound of metal being beaten into submission filled our ears. Gruff looking men covered in light layers of dust with sweat dripping from their foreheads stood or sat in the garages that lined the streets. We were walking through the small alley ways of Mullae-dong known for its metal works but now getting more and more coverage for artists that live there as well. We wanted to check out the art and graffiti the artists that have moved into the area have decorated the place with.
It’s one of those neighborhoods where things are not pristine and put together but rather piles of random objects spill from the buildings into the streets. Buildings are old and decrepit with paint peeling and cement disintegrating and have an appeal all their own. Seeing people that can still use their hands to make things and don’t spend all day sitting on computers is pretty charming as well. The alleys are small, but easy enough to walk through and navigate. As the graffiti and art is dispersed throughout the area it’s best to zig-zag through the alleys from one end of the block to the other. On our second pass we realized we’d been passing artist studios that were shuttered up for the day only to be opened in the coming evening. It’s best to take it slow and enjoy the atmosphere only an old dingy neighborhood like this can harbor.
Around 2005 artists from Hongdae and Daehagno started flocking to the neighborhood for cheap rent and now scattered amidst the iron foundries and steel factories that heat up the place by day are artists’ studios that light up the place by night. They may not be there for much longer now though as building owners are raising rents in an effort to push artists out and talks by the government to redevelop the area are underway. Until they are pushed out though, it’s worth a visit day or night.
Directions: Mullae Station Exit 7. At the first street on your left turn left and then an immediate right into a small alley begin searching down the alleys from there.