Looking through my last year summer album I came across some old photos of my last residential area in Seoul. As mentioned in my blog Housing in Korea: My Residences I moved around a few times while living in Korea.
Each residence I lived in was unique, however, my last residence remains one of my favorites. Signing just a 6-month lease, which I kept until this past winter I resided in a quaint old hill-side Korean neighborhood in Seoul. Words can’t really describe my area except for the hills. I moved to a hill-side residence in the Sillim-dong area nestled right beside Gwanak-san(관악산) mountain in south Seoul. Not the usual or most visited area for foreigners I decided on signing a lease in south Seoul due to an initial job offer received as mentioned in my Finding A Job In Korea (직업을 찾기) blog. Not necessarily going as planned, I kept my lease because I also wanted live closer to my boyfriend’s house.
Sillim-dong, Seoul for all who do not know is an old district of Seoul, famously known as Sundae Town, with ample shopping centers, bars and pubs, and traditional shopping markets. Located a 5-minute bus ride away from Seoul National and Soongsil University Sillim-dong is also a popular residential area for many Korean college students. Upon moving to the area I was surprised by how less of a foreigner presence there was. During my initial tour with my leasing agent he informed me that Sillim remained a strong Korean neighborhood. Maybe because the majority of housing lies on hill tops or because south-west Seoul is not viewed as an exciting location, so the presence of foreigners is low.
As the only foreigner in my new residential building and even on my block I felt humbled to be living in a predominantly Korean neighborhood. My boyfriend also liked my exposure. Even though he disliked that my place was located on a hill-side he did enjoy the scenic view, the quiet streets at night, and small independent shops/ restaurants that dotted the nearby roads. But most of all, he enjoyed that we finally lived (*at that time) lived only thirty minutes apart.
We have wonderful memories of Sillim. By moving to Sillim-dong me and my boyfriend finally were able to live within a closer proximity due to all of my previous residences being 1 or 2 hours away from him. Sillim-dong thus became our spot. Sillim became his new home as well as mine. We spent afternoons and evenings exploring the area. We ate original Sillim sundae bokkeum(*made of pig blood sausage mixed with dangmyeon noodles, vegetables, and a spicy sauce), a famous Korean dish. We shopped together at the Podo mall, watched evening/ midnight movies, walked through Sillim’s maze streets, cooked together sometimes at my place, or went out to eat. We did a lot.
My boyfriend helped me move into my Sillim-dong residence. He helped me decorate it, and make it feel more homely. He also joined me in exploring an area of Seoul, which was new to the both of us. Looking back at our memories I smile at how much fun living in Sillim-dong was.