There is a lot of art in Seoul; that is if you’ll consider paintings on concrete walls an art and not graffiti. If you have traditional perspectives about art, you may find the paintings on the concrete walls of Seoul unappealing, even alarming. With over 100 museums, one wonders that the street art is a kind of an artistic expression.
Not everyone is convinced that street art is a true form of art and not some sort of vandalism, but it is thriving. More importantly, it is now legitimized and recognized as a symbol of Korean expression and creativity. It will not be too difficult to spot street art in South Korea; if you want it easy, check out what Where to Find Street Art and Murals in Seoul by the Curly Traveller.
Finding the Ones Deserving a Second Take
“There are several areas that have a lot of street art…” The first location is called the “Mural Street, which is very close to the Hongik University or Hongdae, which is identified as a premier school for Fine arts. If you are interested to find it, here’s the direction from Curly Traveller: “… if you stand in front of the huge gate before the university, on the right side of it, you see a flowershop. Next to that is an entrance to Mural Street or Mural Alley, where mainly art students have put their marks on the walls.”
If you are looking for an easy way to locate street arts, “… you can find murals all over this neighborhood. Every back alley, every side-street may have some murals. I am sure I missed many, since the cold weather was not very inviting for endless strolling around.”
Curly Traveller lets you in on some great finds; check them out. Rob Lee of SeoulSync also shares “… 3 notable areas where this form of contemporary art is booming. Most of these locations are easily accessible by public transportation” in the post The Rise of Urban Graffiti in Seoul. These are (1) Apgujeong Interchange near Apgujeong Station, a tunnel next to the Han River; (2) Sinchon Station Exit 1; and Hongdae Station Exit 4-7.
Worthy Street Art and More
Discover more street art from the post Taking it to the streets: Seoul’s surprising contemporary art scene by Simon Richmond for the Lonely Planet.
Richmond writes, “A new wave of local artists have been fostered through the Seoul Art Space project, which has 15 creative hot spots around the city. Projects vary from galleries and studios in the underground shopping arcades at Jungang Market in Sindang, to support for the influx of artists and designers to Mullae, an urban enclave of metal workshops and light industry.”
- More murals: Aside from the murals in the Mullae Arts Village suggested by Curly Traveller, street art districts dedicated to mural artworks have popped up at Ihwa Maeul on the slopes of Naksan and the HBC Art Village in Haebangcho.
- Contemporary sculptures: These are more permanent artworks that started way back in the 1988 Olympics. Some notable works include “Hammering Man,” a 22m-tall kinetic by Jonathan Borofsky; “Spring” by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg; and the “Tall Tree and Eye” by Anish Kapoor.
- Galleries: There is a string of galleries along Samcheong-ro. Then there is Arario adjacent to MMCA Seoul, Hakgojae exhibiting ‘Minjung art’ that challenged the South Koreagovernment in the 80s, Jean Art Gallery in Tongui-dong, and Artside showcasing the works of avant-garde Chinese artists.
“Seoul wouldn’t be Seoul if it wasn’t also pushing the boundaries of what defines contemporary art. At the cutting edge is the unique style dawon – literally ‘miscellaneous arts’– which includes genre-bending, often participatory works that tend to take place in unconventional venues.” This, it is not surprising that street art is growing in this South Korea’s capital.