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Seoul is a place I never really considered or even thought about until friends back in Spain pointed it out as a place to explore and work for a while. From the beginning I was shocked but not awed, perhaps it is simply Seoul and not Korea as a whole. Sure the temples and mountains are beautiful and the country has made the equivalent of a late touchdown to win the game but there is something that nags at me, much like I nag about it.

The sometimes shiny facades, but mostly, grime covered exteriors conceal hollow expressions of modernism yet like every place there are hidden gems. It takes getting out, walking , getting past the dusty and rusty and comes usually by sheer luck or coincidence.

In Sevilla, Spain it took meeting friends of friends to reveal the now closed down, Coralones, where hippies and hipsters got together in an old parking facility. The garages were converted to tiny, illegally run bars, coffee shops and art spaces. In the winter there were bonfires and when the rain came there were ankle deep puddles of mud. Bands played sometimes two or more at once less than a few meters apart. There were locals, study abroad students and immigrants from Africa who taught drums and dance from their home land. los-corralones_6332001

This time, my girlfriend, who doesn’t like taking the metro much, walked a few stops from my (former) house to hers and noticed some cool industrial neighborhood, not typical of the modern Korea portrayed in K-Dramas and travel guides.

We went out a few days later to explore Mullae and discovered that it had been a popular area for artists and musicians back before and other neighborhoods took the lime light. Walking the streets you can see street art projects, murals and graffiti. There are also some really nice independent cafes like Chichipopo Library, Cafe & Gallery.

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The area was popular with artist because many of the machine shops closed leaving cheap spaces to convert into studios. You can still find some of the machine shops with their doors flung open, welding, grinding and banging away on projects.

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Walking past one building I noticed a sign that said Urban Art. and saw something painted on the inside of the stairwell. Looking closer I saw that the name of the place was Urban Art Guesthouse. It was intriguing and something was pulling me in. I went upstairs and met the guy in charge. He gutted the building and built it almost entirely from reclaimed materials. he took Ji and I up to the roof to see their garden and party place then he told us about his other project; a music venue. He offered to walk us over to it to have a look. Space Moon is a small music venue that gives alternative type bands a place to play. They have ska, metal, punk, rock etc.

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If you have read a few other post you might know that I am into a hobby/game/social art project called Letterboxing which is based on hiding hand carved rubber stamps in public places. I was inspired and planted a letterbox, Metal Works, around this area.

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