Exploring: Mullae street art (western Seoul)

I hesitate to use the word ‘destination’ in this post, as other travel pieces are labeled. It’s not quite a ‘Random Pictures’ post either. In the absence of a more descriptive label, “Exploring” shall serve as a hybrid of the two, where no one specific destination is in mind and understanding that things may look radically different in a year’s time.

I recently heard about the emerging music scene in Mullae – something that’s worthy of going back and checking out when there’s a concert planned. There was nothing scheduled this particular evening, however, so we meandered around and found some creativity where you might least expect it.

Calling the area after the subway station, Mullae is currently juxtaposed about halfway between old Seoul and new Seoul. The new Seoul will look familiar to anyone that’s seen the tall apartment towers, the shining public art sitting outside of taller corporate buildings, with franchises lining the main streets. The ‘old Seoul’, to put it mildly, retains a sort of quirkiness that comes when not every back alley is lit or navigable, even by motorcycle.

While I’d love to hear more of the story, I’m thankful for Seoul Sub>urban’s take on the area from the summer of 2011. Decades ago the area was a center of manufacturing; while square blocks of small shops still exist, the entire side of old Seoul Mullae had little activity. This was out front of the “cooperative research centre for Art & Urban Society”, also called “Lab 39-Autonomous residence”. The address (416 Dorom-ro) was the same as a venue I’d heard about, though nothing happening meant no one was just hanging around.

Thankfully, they were here at some point, livening up a scene and area that would look almost inescapably dull.


A stairwell of one open building near a photo studio.

If paint sticks…

Just keep looking down the back alleys or around corners…

So that’s what happens when a rusty pipe leaks and forms an icicle…

Outside an art gallery – this is either the best maze ever or the Indy 500 driver’s worst nightmare.

No idea what’s happening here.

Iceberg, dead ahead?

The aforementioned juxtaposition of old and new – the glass soju bottles being a deterrent to climbing thieves.

This was probably a helpful thing awhile back, but now it’s something fun to pose with. The Korean, 문래창작촌, (mun-lae-chang-jak-chon), means “Mullae Artist Village”, but judging by the status of the information booth, we’d guess both have seen better days.

Start from Mullae station (line 2, exit 7, and walk toward a four-way intersection. Turn left down any of the side streets near there. or walk along the main road and you’ll see the  “cooperative research centre for Art & Urban Society”, also called “Lab 39-Autonomous residence”.