The year has just come to an end. Imun-dong is the place where we first met each other and the spot where our twenties began with the excitement. Although we became used to this town and forgot the meaning behind it, our joys and sorrows of life remain in the district. Here are the people who record and introduce the Imun-dong based on their affection for Imun-dong. These are members of Imunmaps, a club which makes a “culture map” of Imun-dong.
Imunmaps consists of students majoring in Cultural Contents at HUFS. Since 2016, Imunmaps has been reminiscing about the past of Imun-dong with local residents and sharing memories with the public through various platforms. Here are stories about people who remind us of the value of Imun, which can be easily dismissed in our daily routine.
The Argus: Could you please briefly introduce Imunmaps?
Paik Seung-won (Paik): Imunmaps is a club that belongs to the Cultural Contents Major, and we collect stories of Imun-dong and record them as digital contents. Imunmaps was initially proposed by Professor Shin Jung-ah, and now consists of a number of students who are interested in the activities. Our objective is to promote the digital platform covering local stories of Imun-dong, which is on the threshold of an urban renewal project.
The Argus: What made you join as a member of Imunmaps?
Lim Sun-woo (Lim): When Imunmaps was in its developmental stage, I was taking one of the classes from the professor. And she covered the details on her club one day. I soon became interested in the activities of Imunmaps as I spend much time in Imun-dong as well. Since I am familiar with the stories in the town, and as I feel that they also belong to me, I decided to join the club.
Paik: When the professor embarked on developing the project, I used to help her with some of the activities. Thus, I naturally became one of the members of the team. I also had an experience working on another crowdfunding project before, which made the professor ask me to work on a similar venture with Imunmaps.
The Argus: Could you please elaborate on the activities done by Imunmaps?
Paik: Our tasks mainly involve preserving the traces of the town through various methods. Imun is a rather unfamiliar town compared to other areas in Seoul. But the district has been mingled with stories along its long history. We began with creating a culture map, which includes Imun’s local vendors and residents’ stories on a geographical basis. We afterwards made listicles and documentaries, and released a publication through crowdfunding.
The Argus: What are the traits that distinguish Imunmaps from other similar platforms?
Lim: We differ from other local media as we pursue “community mapping” which focuses on designing a culture map mainly consisting of the town’s time and space. Imun-dong is indeed special, as both bustling and empty spaces exist in sync due to the upcoming renewal scheme. What makes Imunmaps unique is rephrasing those intimate stories from people who have lived in Imun for decades via various media.
The Argus: Are there any differences in functions or purposes between online media and an offline publication?
Paik: Social Media such as Facebook and Instagram are mainly used to promote Imunmaps by posting stories, which can take advantage of their viral nature. On top of that, they help our subscribers be informed of our activities and progress on other projects regularly.
“Brunch,” a website in which amateur writers can upload various genres of writings, is another medium for us to upload the stories of Imun, and our YouTube channel shares the very same purpose, but mainly by posting video clips.
Through “Story funding,” on the other hand, we procure funds by publishing stories online, of which its scale is much bigger than others. The hard copy can be understood as the outcome of archiving, which can display a “retro” sentiment of the district.
The Argus: What was the most difficult part during the work in Imunmaps?
Paik: The most challenging part was to schedule time for each individual. One of our members was living in Cheonan, from which a one-way trip to HUFS takes more than three hours. There was even a member who was both engaged in the project and had his own profession at the same time, which made him only refer to the minutes of the last meeting that he missed and fulfill assigned tasks. Those difficulties impeded facilitating the progress.
Lim: I wanted to interact with local residents and vendors in Imun, but I had difficulty communicating with them in terms of the way to approach them. Forming rapport has to be preceded for mutual communication, but engaging in the interaction itself was very difficult. Besides, many of the residents are leaving the town these days, so there were even some stores already out of business when we visited them again in the following week. I wish I could have formed close relationships with them.
The Argus: What was the most memorable moment throughout the activities in Imunmaps?
Paik: We created a film by integrating one-minute-videos taken by 60 students, which covered every corner of Imun-dong. That is the most memorable event throughout the activities in Imunmaps. In the film, the owner of A-uk-kkot, a local restaurant selling pork cutlet, claimed that he does not know how to remove the fishy odor so that he only uses pork with the best quality. Also, another entrepreneur who runs a bar, No-ri-teo, mentioned he does not sell drinks to those who already exceeded their limits. As I watched the film, I have realized that there are so many residents and business owners who are so charming.
Lim: I remember the moment when I read the comments on the crowdfunding website and Instagram, and they stuck in my mind. I was deeply overwhelmed to know that there are so many people who support our work. Aside from the supporters online, there was also a lady who I met on the last field trip, and she lingers in my memory. She helped us by answering our questions with kindness and authenticity. I cannot forget the day, as I could sense the residents’ sincere affection for Imun-dong through her voice.
The Argus: How does Imunmaps define the innate value of Imun-dong?
Paik: Since Imun-dong has been neglected as for the urban development plan, old sentiments from the mid-20th century and kindness still reside. Also, there are a number of narrow alleys emanating coziness that themselves show the unique value of the town. Additionally, the town cherishes remnants of the past, such as small corner shops and railroad crossings, making us feel as if time has stopped.
Also, Imun is filled with the young generation from various national backgrounds, but is also populated with people who have lived in the town for a long time. Because of such diversity, there are some unique anecdotes such as the exchanging of letters between foreigners and local business owners, which is hardly discovered in other towns. I think this is another trait that makes the place special.
The Argus: What were the activities in the last quarter, and do you have any plans to achieve by the end of the year?
Lim: Most importantly, we finalized our project of the publication and selling goods thanks to the crowdfunding. We thereafter held a public film screening and resident talk show on Nov. 21. At the event, we screened a documentary created by students, and people ranging from local residents to supporters took part in the special occasion, sharing their thoughts on the film and engraving the meaning of Imun in their own ways.
We are also planning to distribute our book to independent bookstores by the end of the year. In addition, we are arranging an exhibition with Dongdaemun Foundation for Arts and Culture, with the theme “The Story of Imun,” displaying pictures, short video clips and writings.
The Argus: Is there anything you want to say to HUFSans?
Paik: Since we all spend at least four years in Imun-dong as HUFSans, I recommend cherishing a place in your mind that can reawaken the memories of college years. I also hope many HUFSans will talk more to the locals of the town and create their own priceless memories.
Lim: There is an array of hidden but beautiful alleys that are perfect for taking a walk. Rather than solely going back and forth between home and school, I hope HUFSans will sometimes take a glance at those hidden corners and have novel experiences.
HUFSans are sick of the rigors of daily life. From group projects to exams, none of them is easy. Imunmaps introduces nest-like spaces in Imun-dong to HUFSans suffering from burnout. In a contemporary society where things are constantly changing at a rapid pace, these places provide comfort and bring courage to challenge us. The Argus sympathizes with the meaningful activities of Imunmaps and cheers on the future of HUFSans.
By Na Geum-chae, An Kwan-ho
Staff Reporters of Campus Section