There’s nothing in Sinjeong that could, in and of itself, be considered particularly intriguing, but as I walked around I found it rather interesting how the area served as a transition between the lower income areas to the west and the relatively affluent Mokdong neighborhood to the east.
I started by making a U-turn out of Exit 1 and heading west. The neighborhood was quiet save for the occasional bang of metal on metal produced by a few construction workers up on the scaffolding that surrounded a nearby building. Small bars and restaurants, a couple real estate offices, and a glasses shop lined Omok-ro (오목로), the main road, which ran along the top of a crest. Side streets to both the north and south dropped away steeply, and occasionally this would create an alley down which you could see between buildings to mountains off in the distance. As I continued to walk west, notable for their scarcity were apartment towers (or construction sites to build any) and that 21st century Seoul obsession: the café. What I could see, though, were the individual windows in the airplanes as they descended the last meters into Gimpo Airport, seeming to skirt the roofs of buildings up ahead.
I turned right when I reached Jung-ang-ro (중앙로), then right again when I reached Jemulpo-gil (제물포길), following it past car supply stores and businesses selling window frames or other house supplies. I veered right once more upon reaching Sinjeongjung-ang-ro (신정중앙로), which was lined with delivery companies and auto service and detailing businesses.
Sinjeongjung-ang-ro led me into a more residential area filled with the usual red brick apartment buildings, fried chicken joints, florists, and two-chair salons. Here and there a rose vine climbed up a fence. After a while I turned right on Eunhaengjeong-ro (은행정로) to head back toward the station, which brought me past the Apsan Children’s Park (앞산 어린이공원), a quarter-block space with a small playset, a pair of swings, benches, trees, and a few kids taking a break from playing with their squirt guns. A few other parks like this one dotted Sinjeong’s back streets, on spare dots of land between apartments, never bigger than a fraction of a block.
The station map had indicated a local market not far from Exit 2, Western Sinjeong Market (신정서부시장), and I took the second left from the exit in order to check it out. When I got to where the map indicated it should be, however, there was nothing I would call a market – a handful of shops open to the street, but that was it.
Back on Omok-ro and heading east, I could see the soaring towers of Omokgyo’s Hyperion towers up ahead, and it was clear what direction I was headed. With almost every step I took toward Mokdong, the street and the neighborhood got livelier and more modern – cafes started to crop up, as did chain stores and things like bubble tea shops and bakeries. The back streets still held plenty of old red brick apartments, but some of them south of Exit 3 had been replaced with newer ones made of stone. A few steps ahead of me a trio of girls bounded out of a pet salon, squealing in delight at the new hairdo of the dog that one of them carried in her arms.