Andong’s mystic totems
Located in northern Seoul on the lower flank of Mt. Buramsan, the neighborhood of 104 Junggye-dong—also known as Baeksa Village—is one of the city’s last remaining daldongne, the poor, hillside “moon villages” that sprung up in the post-war era.
Baeksa Village was formed in 1967 to house families the government had forcefully evicted from shantytowns along the Cheonggyecheon Stream, in Yongsan and other parts of Seoul. Baeksa Village, too, was recently slated to be leveled to make way for apartments, but this plan was dropped in favor of a more preservationist-minded renovation scheme.
In many ways, Baeksa Village resembles Busan’s better-known Gamcheon Culture Village. Small, ramshackle homes follow the contours of the hill, connected by a web of steps and alleyways. Many of the homes are now empty; many of the remaining residents are elderly. Stacks of used briquettes are ubiquitous—in winter, residents rely on briquettes (often donated) for heat.
In its own special way, Baeksa Village is a surprisingly beautiful place. From its upper reaches, you are afforded views of Mt. Buramsan and, a bit further in the distance, Mt. Samgaksan and Mt. Dobongsan. I imagine if Baeksa Village gets a Gamcheon Culture Village-esque makeover, those views are going to make a cafe owner very happy.