Muakjae sits squeezed between Inwang Mountain (인왕산) to the east and the smaller An Mountain (안산) to the west, giving the neighborhood a bit of a bowling lane feel. Uiju-ro (의주로) cuts northwest-southeast above Line 3, and there’s not much space off of it, meaning that the area doesn’t have much to see or do.
Inwang and An Mountain have matching summits, mixes of vegetation and bald tan rock, and their close proximity to the station means that there’s little space for development, resulting in relatively fresh air and leaving the neighborhood much quieter than Dongnimmun to the south. The space that is available is pretty compactly utilized, however, especially on the east side of the street where you have a layer cake of businesses along Uiju-ro and mid-size red brick apartment buildings behind them, followed by a strip of huge apartment towers sandwiched in front of the mountain. Unfortunately, this last grouping blocks the view of Inwang-san from many places, denying the neighborhood of some of its potential beauty.
Because of the local geography, walking about you oddly find yourself looking around with your head tilted back like a gobsmacked country bumpkin tourist as you follow the contours of buildings as they rise up the slopes. If you feel the urge to do the same, there’s an entrance to the Inwang-san hiking paths near Exit 2. Simply go out the exit and take the first left up into the apartment complex, behind which you’ll find the entrance.
This direction, out Exit 2 or 3 heading south, is particularly quiet and green, with big swaths of trees on either side of the road. The opposite, north from Exit 1 or 4, is more developed, and after passing some rather run-down apartment blocks to the east you start approaching Hongjae Station (홍제역). As I neared the halfway point between the stations the scene got a bit livelier and trees were replaced with businesses, some in rather new buildings, as people came downhill to get groceries or a bite to eat before going back up and going home.
Entrance to the Inwang-san hiking paths
South on Uiju-ro (의주로), first left