What really got me attracted to exploring Seoul was my own little, local mountain. Back in 2005 I lived next to Bongwhasan, which means Beacon Mountain. At the time I was living there I would go up there at least two or three times a week, and even during the middle of winter and summer. Before long I had learned my own routes to follow and where, more or less, I would arrive when I took a particular pathway down. As I said before, if I got lost on the mountain, I could just walk down and follow the mountain around and I would find somewhere I recognised sooner or later. To this day when I move somewhere I always look for the nearest mountain. Bongwhasan has much to do with this.
When I arrived in Seoul first, I didn’t really notice whether the city was hilly or not. In the beginning, my immediate sphere – from my apartment to work, Emart, and Bongwhasan station – didn’t involve too many hikes. What was certainly more obvious was how built up the city was. This affected me more than anything.
This is the kind of countryside I am used to
The Instigator – Sinnae-dong, Jungnang-gu.
When I first arrived in Korea in 2005 I was based in Jungnang-gu, which is on Seoul’s most north-eastern extremity. On face value, there wasn’t really much going for the place but it was close to the Costco in Sangbong, so I used to walk down to it every so often to get more cheese. I also found a little hill, which was often described as a mountain, next to me, which I would wander up regularly because I had the mornings free. This mountain was called Bongwhasan, and the subway station at the end of line 6 is named after here. When it was a little warmer I would also walk to Bongwhasan to take the train into Itaewon. This was as adventurous as I got back then. After a while, I got a little bored with seeing the same things.
I first started walking around in the morning after I got up and had breakfast. This was usually after I realised that having all this morning time allowed me plenty of freedom to go out and do stuff, and then come back in time to go to work at two or three o’clock. Staying in bed late into the morning just wasted the whole day. Later, when it was hotter I would walk around at night as I finished work around nine o’clock and didn’t really feel tired. I would walk for hours sometimes.