Bukjeong Village [북정마을]

The Sound of Magic (2022)

Seongbuk-ro 23ra-gil [성북로23라길]

No. 2-55 — This is the home of Yoon Ah-yi (Choi Sung-eun) in The Sound of Magic (Annarasumanara/안나라수마나라) (Netflix, 2022) as seen, for instance, in episode 4, when Ah-yi returns home and finds her sister missing.

Variety Shows Filmed Here

Roommate (룸메이트) (SBS, 2014-15), Season 2 (January 6, 2015) – the Roommates help deliver coal to the residents of this village in episode 34 “White Winter, Black Winter” and get help from the members of GOT7 and 5URPRISE.
Gilstory Road Story (길이야기), English Edition: May 26 2015
In Gilstory 3 “The night of Bukjeong village” (English Edition), actor Kim Nam-gil shares the stories of people he met along the way while visiting this village.

* * *

Bukjeong Village [북정마을] is one of Seoul’s last daldongnae (달동네), i.e. ‘a village on a hilltop location that seems closer to the moon than the city below’. This village, also considered the last daldongnae still located within the four gates of Seoul, is located in Seoul’s neighborhood Seongbuk [Seongbuk-dong/성북동], in the Seongbuk District [Seongbuk-gu/성북구]; right underneath Waryong Park [와룡공원].

The village’s name ‘Bukjeong’ originates from the Korean word bukjeok (북적) meaning ‘crowded’. According to the Seoul Tourism Office, the origins of the village date back to Joseon times. It’s said that the village at the time was the production center for making meju (fermented soybeans) offered to the court. This made the village very busy and crowded, which is also how the village’s name came about. It is also referenced by its less common name ‘Pigeon Village’ (비둘마을), which symbolizes the “contrast between nature and manmade environment”, derived from the poem Seongbuk-dong Pigeon (성북동 비둘기), written by Kim Kwang-seop (김광석/金珖燮, 1905~1977) in 1969. Set against the backdrop of this village, the Korean poem (which can be read further below) is a lament of the “destruction of nature and loss of humanity”.

Today, the village consists of a “cluster of some 500 tiled-roofed houses built in the 1960-70s”. It is said that people built this oval-shaped village close to the fortress wall in the 1950s when they lost their homes due to urban development caused by industrialization. People continued to move here during the 1960s and 1970s for the same reasons including an “influx of refugees after Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule.” In 1998, Seoul Metropolitan Government had marked the area for planned redevelopment and maintenance area; in August 2011, it was designated as a redevelopment zone. The latter created discussions among “[o]utsiders want to develop it quickly, but residents want to improve it in this state”.

A little later, at the end of the 2010s (it garnered a lot of media attention in the year 2016), young artists, designers, theater artists, and architects, discovered this village and established their work spaces such as design studios. There are also cafes here, like the one run by singer-songwriter Kim Geo-ji (김거지) —real name Kim Jung-kyun (김정균)— who moved into a house here for a month to create music. He also released an album entitled Daldongne (달동네) in 2014. One reason for artists coming here was due to being pushed out of their neighborhoods such as Daehak-ro because of rising rent.

Around the same time, older residents were observed to have moved out of this village in the mid-2010s, which at that time had a 39% of poverty rate with 64% of the houses being old. The number of empty houses increased so much at the time, that SBS dedicated the 2nd episode ‘Empty House 2 – Yes, I’m in Seongbuk-dong (빈집2 – 네 성북동입니다)’ of their show Empty House to the around 40 empty houses of this village. The show’s title is in fact a play on a usual K-Drama greetings where a rich chaebol wife would answer the phone in greeting with either “Pyeongchang-dong” or “Seongbuk-dong” instead of “Hello.”

Coincidentally, Bukjeong Village is said to be “a well-known shooting location for TV dramas and films set in 1960-70s Seoul”. It was also designated in 2015 as Seoul’s Future Heritage (서울미래유산, #2015-016), a title given out by the city’s government since 2012.

The village’s Simujang House (삼우정) —the house of independence activist and Buddhist monk Han Yong-un (한용운) where he spent his last years (until May 1944)— is usually mentioned as one of the sightseeing points of this village, and is also included in a Seongbuk neighborhood walking trail. The house was built in 1933 facing south instead of the north per tradition, because Han didn’t want his house to face the headquarters of Japan’s colonial government.

Seongbuk-dong Walking Course
including Bukjeong Village (2~3 hours)

by Visit Seoul, June 2019

Take a bus to Bus Stop Hongik Univ. Middle & High School Entrance [홍익대부속중고등학교입구]; from here, you can walk to:
Kilsangsa Temple [길상사], Address: 선잠로5길 68 ▶ The Site of Seonjamdam Altar [선잠단지], Address: 성북동 64-1 ▶ Choisunu House — Memorial Museum [최순우옛집], Address: 성북로15길 9 ▶ Yi Jong-seok’s Villa (이종석별장/성북동이종석별장/城北洞 李鍾奭 別莊), Address: 성북로 131 ▶ Han Yong-un’s Simujang House [만해한용운심우장], Address: 성북로29길 24 ▶ Lee Tae-jun House (Suyeonsanbang) [수연산방], Address: 성북로26길 8.

Poem “Seongbuk-dong Pigeon” (성북동 비둘기), 1969

by Kim Kwang-seok (김광석) — Source

​성북동 산에 번지가 새로 생기면서
본래 살던 성북동 비둘기만이 번지가 없어졌다.
새벽부터 돌깨는 산울림에 떨다가
가슴에 금이 갔다.

그래도 성북동 비둘기는
하느님의 광장같은 새파란 아침하늘에
성북동 주민에게 축복의 메세지나 전하듯
성북동 하늘을 한바퀴 휘 돈다
성북동 매마른 골짜기에는
조용히 앉아 콩알 하나 찍어 먹을
널직한 마당은 커녕 가는 데마다
채석장 포성이 메아리 쳐서
피난하듯 지붕에 올라앉아
아침 구공탄 굴뚝 연기에서 향수를 느끼다가
산1번지 채석장에 도루 가서
금방 따낸 돌 온기에 입을 닦는다.

​예전에는 사람을 성자처럼 보고
사람 가까이
사람과 같이 사랑하고
사람과 같이 평화를 즐기던
사랑과 평화의 새 비둘기는
이제 산도 잃고 사람도 잃고
사랑과 평화의 사상까지
낳지 못하는 쫓기는 새가 되었다.

2-55 Seongbuk-ro 23ra-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 성북구 성북로23라길 2-55
(성북동 226-140)
Geolocation: 37.592681, 126.991934
Geolocation of The Sound of Magic scene: 37.592800, 126.990067
(The house in The Sound of Magic can be seen in this video)

Getting here
Hansung University Station [한성대입구역], Seoul Subway Line 4, Exit 5
(25-30 min. walk)

— submitted by GGRIP, with additions by Marion KDL; last updated 15/07/2022

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