PhotoPhoto Essay
Welcome to Iwha-dongFinding Hope in Red, Green, and Blue
Kim Kang-rae  |
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승인 2008.04.28  22:30:42
트위터 페이스북 구글 카카오스토리



   MY NAME is Ihwa-dong, and let me tell you a story about me. I am a village inside Seoul, located right next to *Daehangno* near Hyehwa Subway Station. In the past, people tended to avoid me, a grey and old area of Seoul, while they seem to visit *Daehangno* a lot, with its lively scenery and a variety of performances. Then a few years ago, something miraculous happened. Artists from Seoul, with assistance from the Ministry of Culture & Tourism, came and dressed me with paintings and decorations, and people started coming to see me, slowly but surely. The project, which included around 70 artists, was called an “artistic make-over of Ihwa-dong.” Thanks to their work, I have now turned into a colorful area of Seoul and even a popular area among everyday people. If you haven’t had a chance to meet me yet in person, look at this collection of my scenes, and see how little things have sparked some life and color into the depressing, colorless place I used to be.


   Welcome! The stairs you see now are just a few of many staircases I own. Now, both have received a facial makeover in order to become a staircase that all staircases strive to become. In fact, other villages are trying to copy these staircases, and they are sending photographers to archive my success. Here’s another one trying to get a shot of me. Smile!


   The little girl walks past the painting of the couple on my wall everyday, perhaps thinking she wants to become a happy couple like that when she is old. What would be better than finding true love that lasts like the paintings on the wall?


   That old lady is also one of my best friends, and she comes to see this particular part of me a lot. I guess I can now provide a place for the elderly to take a walk, while enjoying the eye-soothing tree and sky scenery as well as a heart-healthy exercise.



   This police station used to be deaf to the needs of the people. Now, the artists from Seoul have kindly punctured an ear for the police, so that the police can listen to their voices. With an open ear to hear, the police now have become friendly neighbors working to protect their people.


   If you are familiar with the Korean traditions, then you might know about the wooden statues which guard the entrance of a village called *Jangseung* - symbolic figures that guard the village. Ihwa-dong has its own *Jangseung* in these two friendly figures. Although not wooden statues, the two figures not only guard the village, but they also provide a source of hope and inspiration to the people.



   It was rather basic, but that sums up my basic scenery. People are intrigued at how I’ve changed, which may possibly be the reason for the many visits in recent days. Or perhaps there are some other reasons why they come to see me. Maybe all these people come to see how a little injection of art, and effort that was put into restoring and enhancing me has given hope and joy to the people around me. Little though it may be, the red, blue, and green paint has gone a long way to transform me into a place that people long to see. I believe it can be the same for everyone. A little effort can bring about striking results, and if you don’t believe it, just ask me!

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