Last spring, while out for a walk, we stumbled over one of the locations in the SBS 2003 drama What Happened in Bali, starring Ha ji-won, So Ji-sup, and Jo In-sung. The one-room houses that Ha-ji won’s and So ji-sop’s characters lived in are located on a mountain on the outskirts of an area in Sangdo-dong, Dongjak-gu which is now being developed. There were many other small houses like this in the area and we wondered if they would survive now that a large apartment complex was being built nearby.
2 sides of Seoul – small houses on the mountain with large apartment blocks in the background
Well, we went back and walked the same route recently and sure enough many of the little houses on the mountain had signs on them to show they were going to be demolished.
철거 chol-ko – to be demolished
Now all that’s left of most of the houses around there is rubble and the remains of some personal items - a toilet seat, wash basins, clothes, a toaster – all mixed up in the rubble. The people who lived here have had to pack up and leave but the question is – where can they go? Even if they received money to leave their homes it was probably not enough for a deposit on a nice apartment. Apartments are much more expensive to rent. Families on low incomes in Seoul are gradually being pushed out of the city as these kinds of areas are disappearing to be replaced by tall apartment blocks.
立春大吉 입춘대길 The Pink Gate. What Happened in Bali film location
The actual houses used in the drama What Happened in Bali are still there. Now on the gate there’s a sign written in hanja – 立春大吉 (입춘대길 ip chun dae gil) hoping for good luck in the coming spring (above). The view still looks out onto a large building site. But in the distance opposite, if you look carefully (below), you can see the spots of pink ink on the walls of the houses about to be demolished. In the distance we can see the dream apartment blocks where everyone wants to live and in the middle of the picture is the modern and stylish 63 building. It’s a sad walk around this mountain these days.