BUAM-DONG IS where Yun Dong-ju, a reputable poet who lived during the 1930s and 1940s, stayed when he studied at Yeonhui Technical School, the predecessor of Yonsei University. While studying literature at Yeonhui, he resided in writer Kim Song’s house with his friend Jeong Byung-ook. During these times, Yun would climb Mt. Inwang, where he would polish his poetic concepts. Byeol hyeneun bam (Night counting the stars), Jahwasang (Self-portrait), Ddo dareun gohyang(Another hometown) and many other poems of Yun Dong-ju that are still loved by Koreans were written during this period. Thus in memory of the poet, Jongno-gu remodeled the Chungun water booster and a water tank, which were left out at the foot of the mountain,to construct the Yun Dong-ju literary house in 2012.
Though 71 years have flown since Yun passed away, his words and his poems still continue to enchant us. Moreover, Buam-dong is close to the heart of Seoul, the Gwanghwamun area, where everything, from cultural heritage to food, is diverse and dynamic. This April, when the spring breeze allures you to take an occasional break from your hectic everyday life, hop on the bus and stroll around Buam-dong.
From Gyeongbokgung station to Buam-dong
As the journey to a destination is an integral part of the travel, taking a school shuttle bus to Gyeonbokgung station and then walking to Buam-dong will enrich your travels to the fullest extent. It takes about 30 minutes on foot to Buam-dong, where the Yun Dong-ju literary house and poet’s hill are located. On the way, you will pass Tong-in market, Samcheong-dong and places like Gyeongbokgung that you have heard about but may have not visited. At Tong-in market and Samcheong-dong, you will be able to observe the Korean traditional buildings, food and culture. So, on your journey to Buam-dong, stop by those places and enrich the journey to your final destination.
Yun Dong-ju literary house
The Yun Dong-ju literary house building used to be a booster station where it had increased water pressure to make the water flow more powerful. The antique, exotic atmosphere from the water trace makes Yun Dong-ju’s literary house more travel worthy. Like Yun’s poems that give stimulus to our tired souls, Yun Dong-ju’s literary house is a booster station for our souls.
Yun Dong-ju literary house is divided into three sections: the poet’s house, the open well, and the closed well. First, in the poet’s house, you can feel the “human Yun Dong-ju” as the plain, undecorated place aptly represents the life of the poet who had lived modestly. On the nine stands, photo works and photographic editions of his hand-written works are exhibited in a chronological order.
Moving on, the second gallery is an open well, which was motivated by one of Yun’s poems, Jahwasang (Self-portrait). It is a poem that depicts Yun looking at a well and looking back upon himself. Traces of the water are still present on the walls, allowing visitors to feel the flow of time and recollect their memories. The third gallery is a closed well. This place is designed for silence and meditation so that visitors can watch a video of the poet’s life and his poetry in peace.
Yun Dong-ju hill
After taking a look around the literary house, take time to visit the hill, which is the best place to appreciate the concerns that Yun Dong-ju had as a Korean intellect living in the period of Japanese colonial rule. Once you exit the literary house and climb the stairs on its right side, you will arrive at a small hill named Yun Dong-ju. There, you will spot a big stone with Yun’s most famous poemSeo-si (Prologue) carved on the surface.
Yun Dong-ju’s several famous poems are written in his handwriting style on the wooden pillars that are positioned along the pathway. While reading his words, you will arrive at a big and sacred looking tree in front of ancient city walls. By walking along the walls, you can also enjoy the vast view of the Mt. Bugak and Seoul.
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Yun Dong-ju’s poems and his life still move hearts and souls of many Koreans. Many Koreans are familiar with his poems, but only a few know how his masterpieces came into being. This April, visit the village where Yun lived and wrote his famous works, drop by the exhibition in the literary house, take a walk around the poet’s hill and explore the poet’s life.
Box 1: Seo-si (Prologue)
Let me have no shame under the heaven till I die. Even the sound of wind passing the leaves pained my heart. With a heart singing starts, I will love all dying things. And I must step my path that’s been given to me. Tonight also the wind sweeps past among the stars. (Translated version published in theThe Korea Times, Feb.3, 2009)