As you might have noticed, I love walking. Whenever two places are a reasonable distance from each other (up to 10 km), I will walk instead of taking the subway and explore the neighborhood whenever I have time. (And I hate taking the subway when the ride is too short because I feel sorry for the money wasted.) And even though most Seoulites will tell you the opposite and go into a shock if they hear about you liking wlaking, Seoul center is very walkable. I swear that even in summer, at noon you can walk around the city (pack sunscreen, umbrella and water). So in my opinion, the best way to go about it is to choose the place where you really have to/want to go (in my case: 3 PM Korean class at Sookmyung uni) and then look for interesting places within a walking distance (Edae) and then choose the route between the two spots so that you cover as many other cool areas as possible (Hyochang park). As you can see from the photos and the map below, I discovered other spots completely by chance!
For me, the whole route took 4 hours including 2 hours of sightseeing and shopping around Edae and about one hour in the park, eating lunch and relaxing.
Korean second hand store - I didn't go in but next time I will!
At the end of the Wedding street, where you have to turn right, there is a small street market selling fruits, veggies, street food, spices, traditional snacks and candy by weight. English doesn't work there and you should only buy if your stomach is strong. I saw a very cute grandma feeding her ultra cute dog. And then touching her merchandise. But for sure it's a very traditional Korean experience, so I recommend you to at least window shop there. For the faint of heart (and immunity), there's GS25 nearby.
Church on the left side as you walk that long street from the market.
This area is already near the park.
A temple that even google maps don't know about (but you can see it on street view) - the address is something like 111-263 Gongdeok-dong, Mapo-gu. This is my best discovery so far, you can't imagine how thrilling it was to see this old temple completely overgrown by apartment houses and skyscrapers. It cowered between two bland, grey buildings, its bright jewel colours invisible until you came closer. No people to be seen, but door very easily opened...
The best part about the lonesomeness of the place was that there was nobody to forbid me from walking up the stairs. I tip-toed up as quickly as I could, before some unexpected guard might catch me and send me back.
After walking up the stairs, I found myself standing on a spacious terrace, enabling me to see the smog-veiled part of Seoul I just came from.
Behind me, there was the temple (where I didn't dare to enter as I know very little about Buddhism and the appropriate etiquette) and more stairs, leading to an even higher and more mysterious place.
The staircase led to the roof of the temple, where a lage golden statue of Buddha contrasted with the dull sky (or even duller apartment buildings). It was very quiet, being too high for the noise of cars and bikes passing by to reach.
And when I looked back, it was as if I was looking through a magical door, leading to a different world, separated by an unknown number of years from the place I was standing at. While I am unsure whether the gate would be appropriately called Iljumun (일주문), it would fit the meaning perfectly - the boundary between the temple's spirituality and human worldly life. Skyscrapers framed by an ancient temple gate - quite a good representation of Seoul I dare say.
Hyochang Park is a lovely patch of greenery in this area of Seoul, a hideout for bored ahjummas and ahjossis, a place for families to spend time with their children and for me to stand out as a weirdo, because I didn't have neither a kid with me nor sufficient amount of wrinkles.
There are two tomb areas in the park, both with exactly the same layout. One tomb is that of "Provisional Government Leaders" who were active in the independence movement against Japan in the early 20th century. The other tomb is that of three martyrs who died while trying to help Korea regain independence from Japan in the same period of time.
My 1000 Won lunch from Lotte (did I mention bentos go on sale the day they expire?) - the rice was awful, but the egg, sausage and pickles were really nice. Nice enough for ants to come attack me in hordes. While wolfing the meal down, an ahjossi came by, tossed his jacket next to me on the bench and started working out on the free work-out station gear. I must say that for his constitution and age (my guess was 80 years), he was extremely lively and strong.
Sookmyung women's university has a nice campus and a decent student-friendly neighborhood with Olive Young, cafes and a couple of clothes shops.
Olive Young water
Another second hand store - just not sure if it was near Sookmyung station or Seoul station.