EULJIRO IS SET IN SEOUL'S LAST REMAINING URBAN FABRIC DATED FROM CHOSUN DYNASTY, WHICH WAS ONCE AN INDUSTRIAL POWERHOUSE AND SYMBOL OF MODERNIZATION. NOW, LONG FORGOTTEN BY THE LOCALS, THE PLACE TRAPS THE BUILDINGS AND ITS OCCUPANTS IN THE PAST.
I stumbled into this mysterious old quarter in Seoul during my travels. The further one wanders in, the smaller the alleys get and the older the shops appear. While the locals put on suits and ties and go to work at the adjacent gleaming new glass and steel office towers, middle-aged men in Euljiro operate band saws or large presses, amid the smell of grease and metal all around. Perched on a tiny stool on the sidewalk, a roving knife-sharpener scrapes a blade across a whetstone, while nearby another man works in a shop where the entire floor is covered in rusty metal hooks. Porters ferry things around on two-wheeled dollies, and motorcycle drivers drop off and pick up deliveries. It’s nearly all men who do these things in the alleys.