Reflections: Haebangchon | 해방촌 | South Korea

HBC, Haebangchon (해방촌), my home in Seoul. It’s an area I happened upon by a chance request, happily so.

View of Heabangchon and Seoul from Namsan Tower.

The area is influenced by art and small businesses, here you see lesser chains and brands. My first taste of HBC was when I spent a little over a month here during the summer of 2017. I spent my days exploring the town and neighboring Itaewon amongst wonderful company. HBC was surprisingly ideal for my neighborhood of choice.

Some of my favorite cafes in Seoul live in HBC.

Rooftop of Orang Orang Cafe (오랑오랑)

Craft beer and coffee can be found down allies and up staircases that wind through the old streets of Heabangchon.

Cafes in HBC. (coming soon)

Heabangchon is tradition spiced with moderism.

The town has traditional architecture housing families for generations, and in between, a dash of modern apartment buildings home to foreign newcomers.
Small businesses are wonderfully abundant in town. Many expats have called the area home and opened up shops. Together with native residents, bookstores, pizzerias, foreign cuisine, pubs, wing stands, produce stands, and more have popped up on every street.

My picks for eats. (coming soon)

HBC is a town built on the nature that existed before it.

A small mountain hill, for lack of a better discription, is a terrain seen all over Seoul, and South Korea in general. I say mountain hill because the climb to the top, where I live, is steep, but it’s not like hiking Namsan or Bukhansan. My legs are looking great, I do have to say. After missing the local 02 bus (that ends at 11:20) a couple times, I’ve been forced to walk about 40 minutes from the nearest subway station. It’s not a bad trek, and I actually do it on purpose when I’m not in a hurry or when going downhill from home.

I’m happy I had the chance to call Heabangchon my home for many months; I fell in love here.
My view. ♡

Being at the top offers wonderful views of Namsan Tower and the descending neighborhood. It’s a view that I fell in love with more everyday. Waking up to see the sky, on lucky days, was such a treat. I feel connected to the area like I do my hometown in Alabama.

Rainy day in HBC through the bus window.

Fair warning, bring an umbrella. I did have culture shock at the extent to which locals use umbrellas. It will be barely sprinkling and every person has themselves protected. I discovered later that it’s not out of inability to handle a little rain, it’s because the pollution of the city is absorbed through the water cycle and dropped back on the city. So locals, being smarter than myself, protect themselves from the unhealthy acid of the rain. I’m over here trooping through the rain as if I have all the guts in town. Joke’s on me.

Although, I still don’t understand the umbrellas in the sun habit. The need to remain extremely pale is quite a strange phenomenon here. I suppose each culture has it’s own flaws with idealistic beauty standards. Girls will have a face covered in makeup several shades lighter than their natural tone, obvious at the neck line. But Americans are bad about making their face orange. Girls, your natural color is beautiful, embrace it. ♡

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When I first got to Seoul, I noticed the colors! Everywhere patterns combine with nature and manmade to create a blogger’s heaven for me. I love getting lost in HBC, I always find something interesting and beautiful to snap a photo of, never wanting to forget the beauty.

As far as the locals go, well some you fall in love with. The strangers on the street, some say hello back like in the South, but most will not initiate the conversation. If I make the effort, however, I am usually responded with happiness and a smile. Korean culture is a little different than Southern hospitality. I have toned down a little bit, but y’all my roots run deep, and I am who I am.

But the most beautiful things about Heabangchon for me were the feeling of living in a small while having access to the city that surrounded us; slightly bowing my head in greeting to the street food vendors as I passed by them every day; occasionally indulging in the local street food; having an amazing partner along my journeys.

♡ live the wonder, vagabond your vida.

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