Heyri is a city of human scale – under a three storey skyline, in harmony with nature. It’s a space where artists can breathe and feed their creative souls. To date, there are close to 400 member artists (writers, artists, cineastes, architects, and musicians) who have taken up residence, or have put up exhibition spaces in this artists’ enclave.
I am no artist, but I love art spaces. I was looking for lesser known attractions to spend the day at, because the touristy stuff would have to wait ’til my friends arrive in Seoul. Heyri seemed to offer nature and its own brand of quirks, two things that can definitely please this solitary wanderer.
It was a sweater weather (chilly but sunny) kinda day when I hopped on Bus #2200 at Hapjeong station (the one by subway exit #2). From what I’ve read in the blogs, it’s about 45 minutes away from Seoul, and eerily close to the DMZ border. I tried not to think about the latter, especially when barbed wire fences started to come into view outside my window. In my mind, if the Koreans can find their zen and create art here, then I should be cool about it too.
The Heyri bus stop was announced, and I alighted at Gate #4. Truth be told, it wasn’t love at first sight. I didn’t expect it to be such a massive area (500,000m² to be exact), and since it was just before noon on a weekday, there were hardly any other people visiting. It felt like a ghost town to me. But then again, I just reminded myself that certain places are like art – they need digesting.
Love From The Milky Way
It was actually in Heyri that I collected one of my favorite memories in Seoul. I was starting to appreciate the nature aspect of the place when the universe decided to throw some cosmic love my way through a serenade. I remember that moment so vividly.
In case you were wondering, I did manage to find the music video they were shooting that day. Interestingly, the track is called The Milky Way.
Awww Universe…. the feels! ❤❤❤
Installations, Studios, Architecture
The design mandate is simple: structures have to blend with (and not overrun) the natural environment. Building materials are limited to metal, wood, glass, rocks, and concrete, and the use of paint for the exteriors should be kept to a minimum. It has in mind sustainability alongside aesthetics.
The entrance to the village is free. However, galleries and museums usually require a small fee for admission. That, or order something from their menu, if they also have an in-house cafe. Too bad I was already chugging down a “Big Gulp” size of Deep Coffee – the rockstar/monster of strong black coffees, which I bought in Hongdae before hopping on a bus to Heyri. Obviously, I’ve reached my coffee threshold for the day.
So basically, I spent the rest of the afternoon mostly admiring outdoor installations and architecture. Currently, there are over 50 buildings, but that number is sure to expand in the next couple of years. I’ve noted some of the cafe/galleries that piqued my interest:
- Cafe Concreate + 409 Gallery and The Song (remains the same)
- The Chocolate Design Factory
- Total Art Space Book House
- White Block Gallery
- Museum of Modern History of Korea
Needless to say, I was snapping away with each interesting visual piece. Unfortunately, the phone died on me too early.
- From anywhere in Seoul: Take the subway to Hapjeong station (subway Line 2). Ride Bus #2200 at subway exit #2. This will take you straight to Heyri Gate #4 bus stop. To ride back to Seoul, just ride the same Bus #2200. This time, ride it from the bus stop across the street.
- Museums are usually closed on Mondays.
- Interesting nearby attractions: Paju Premium Outlets and Odusan Observatory