That is Naksan Park!
You remember the post I uploaded about Daehakro?
This time, I want to introduce a spot that is very near Daehakro, which is a mountain behind Daehakro.
That is Naksan, which means Nak mountain. It was named after a Korean word ‘Nakta’, which means camel, because this rather flat mountain looks like camels’ humps.
Unlike Daehakro’s crowded and fabulous mood, Naksan has rather quiet atmosphere. It must be because of Naksan’s undeveloped neighborhood. While Daehakro was developed as high street, Naksan still remains as many people’s habitats.
Some thought those undeveloped neighborhood as an ‘ugly’ aspect of Seoul, but some also thought that it is another ‘real’ aspect of Seoul that should be respected.
Therefore, Seoul headed a ‘Public Art Project’ in Naksan, and Naksan turned into a place that is admired by Seoulites.
The reason why I appreciate Naksan’s Public Art project so much is that it made proximity between art and people much narrower. Art has been absorbed into residents of Naksan’s life. It is not an art that is to be shown to the audience, but it is an art that is to become a part of people’s lives.
While I was walking through Naksan’s alleys, I kept thinking about wonderful life living among masterpieces. Those alleys and walls might have been considered as an ugly remains of the past, but it has turned into a picturesque scene in the city. In continuance of Daehakro’s street of art, Naksan is representing another aspect of art.
Look at this Police Station building. I think this is a real ‘Public Art’.
An artist decorated this police station building into a masterpiece!
Those symbols that represent ‘police’ with some humor and sense turned rigid and barren image of police into something that steps further to humanity.
Even a road sign can be an art piece.
This snail says ‘Slowly’!
As I said before, camels are animals that show that this is ‘Naksan’ maybe….
Ehwajang (House),’ where the nation’s first president Syngman Rhee lived and appointed the first cabinet members of the Republic of Korea.
This is a traditional Korean house: there is a main house in the shape of “ㄷ”; including the Jogakjeong, where Cabinet organization was announced.
<Brother And Sister> <A Fisher Of Moon>
Stairs where people step on every day became an art piece.
I think people who use these stairs everyday might be able to feel those birds and flowers.
<The Cubes> <The Cats>
A picture saying ‘Annyung’, which means ‘Hello’ is welcoming visitors and inhabitants! This one word makes people feel happier and seems to console people’s mind that is exhausted from busy life of modern world.
The reason why people call Naksan as Seoul’s Montmartre is not jst because of its flatness and the fact that it looks like a hill where people can easily climb even though it is called as a mountain. Another reason is artistic sense of this neighborhood. As I mentioned before, because of public art project headed in Naksan, every corner of Naksan became full of art. That’s why people love this place. Naksan gives people quite different image from Seoul’s ordinary image. That is, friendliness and familiarity. Seoul has started to become well modernized and industrialized since long before. Westernized skyscrappers are everywhere and even remained small houses are revamped into high apartment buildings. However, Naksan, where low and old houses of the past still keep its existence there, calls out people’s old memories of past. Some may call them as ruins of Korea’s false industrialization, however, some may call them as things to be protected as every Seoulites’ traces. Naksan recalls trivial happiness which was forgotten by many Seolites.
Many people think art is something to be handled carefully and something to be only seen silently in galleries or exhibition. Many people deem art as something very difficult and not feasible, and dare to be close to art. However, Naksan tells them everything can be an art piece. Scratches on street walls, street signs…. Masterpieces beside one’s way home might give a piece of refreshment and smile to one’s life, and that must be those artists’ purpose.
Another good thing about Naksan is that it is a awesome place to breathe in Seoul’s tight architectures. Naksan’s alleys are perfect to provide a place to walk slowly and quietly for Seoulites who need a time to think in this busy life of Seoul. You will find yourself getting a hope here while watching meaningful art pieces. If you keep walking, you will reach Naksan Park, which is located at the top of Naksan. Even though it is rather flat hill compared to other mountains of Seoul, whole landscape of Seoul can be seen here. At night, it is even better. Maybe, compared to another viewpoints of Seoul, this place could be the viewpoint where Seoul’s revealing a real aspect of it.Everybody must know that Seoul consists not only of tall buildings and modernized white collars, but of petit bourgeois who lead their life between jammed tiny cabins. If you come up here and look at Seoul at the top of Seoul, you might feel like you’re actually floating above Seoul. This place is beautiful, and renowned, too. So many Korean dramas pick this place as their shooting place, so this place must be familliar to so many Koreans. I saw one scene where a character in a drama was shouting her firm determination here, and I understood the scene very well here. If you get to the top of the world, you feel like you can have the world!
This sculpture is the most famous mascot of Naksan. A man and a dog that seem to step out to the sky look great and it also touches people’s mind. It reminded me of people who came to Seoul with their dream inside their mind, and still have hope to reach the sky where everyone can get what they want. What do you think?
Those structures recall people’s forgotten memories of the childhood. Those vivid colors alleviate hard winter of the winter, warming my depressed mind.
In Naksan Park, there are also places for people to exercise. It is performing a role of residents’ relaxing place very properly. Also, outdoor stages, in accordance with Daehakro’s theaters, provide cultural advantages to people. Can you see pictures of artistic public facilities below? They’re great!
<Naksan Exhibition Hall>
This exhibition shows the changes of Naksan from Joseon Dynasty until today. Figuree and anecdotes related to Natsan are displayed.
This pavilion was built while Naksan was being restored. Visitors can see all of the Naesasan(Mt.), including Bukhansan(Mt.), Inwangsan(Mt.) and Namsan(Mt.) from the Pavilion.
I accidentally found this four-leaf clover while I was walking up the stairs. I hope you can also find this luck while you’re travelling Naksan!
This fortress is 18km long and was built to protect Hanyang, (as the capital city was known during the Joseon Dynasty) by linking the four mountains(Historical Relics No. 10)
Because of cold weather, there were few people in the park. I’m sure that many families in the neighborhood will enjoy this place once this hard winter goes away.
Naksan is also preserving Seoul’s history. Seoul fortress, which was demolished during the history, still remains at Naksan and shows history of Seoult to people. Even though redevelopment is in the process here, Seoul government decided to build only 5-story buildings here considering its accordance with the fortress.
I really recommend you to visit Naksan and I’m sure that you’ll get another point of Seoul that you haven’t noticed until now. Take a breath in Naksan, and feel free to enjoy.
JONGNO-GU Naksan Park Webpage: http://www.jongno.go.kr/english/attraction/mt_naksan.jsp