Show me your Room

S’s room @ Tong-in Dong

 ㅣ English


Location: nearby the Tong-in Market
Size: a studio apartment (about 8 pyeong – 26㎡)
Rent: ₩400,000 for a month / ₩5,000,000 deposit
Residence: 4 years
Occupant: S, a book-loving girl in her twenties, lone dweller, graduate of an art college.

Uncomfortable things.
S… Less sunlight, too much heating cost, big cockroaches.
J… How much is heating charge?
S… About ₩80,000 for a month in winter season. It’s quite expensive, isn’t it? I keep the switch off until it’s freezing, even though so…

Lovely things.
S… It’s quiet, conveniently located – I like it very much – and quite village-like.


As we turned at the coner to an alley from the Tong-in Market, seniors playing Janggi(Korean chess) were seen. And at the second corner, there was S’s house.

S… In summer, they play Janggi here. In winter, right there.
J… When you told me that your house is inside of marketplace, I wondered “What? Inside of market?”
S… There are many houses at every branch alley of market street.

J… How come you got this house?
S… I have lived apart from my family since the highschool. When I was a college student, I had a mind about some place along the subway line same with my college’s. One day I visited here to see the exhibition of the gallery ‘Factory’ and had some walk to found that this town was very nice, buildings were rather low, so I tried to find some rent house without any plan. Houses across the main road from the Tong-in Market were three times more expensive. So here, by chance I found only one suitable place here and I liked it. I don’t know why but I didn’t liked to live in front of my college.
J… I think that was a good choice.
S… H had come to visit here many times. He liked here, wanted to live here, then we found that the right next door was available. So we had been neighbors and have some fun, for about two and half years. One day we tried to put the key in other’s keyhole, and two keys were identical!
J… Really? Hahaha…
S… We were confused, both of us at the first time, but it became quite convenient later on, asking to bring something to the college and so on. Those will be identical even now, maybe~


S… This intercome… When there was a wall at the front yard, all rent houses at the first floor had used this to open the gate, they say. I only saw the wall demolition and never used this intercom. Anyway we still have one, haha… (An intercom hung by the wall.)
S… When the parking space is short, cars drive even into here.
J… If you open the door, Janggi-playing seniors could be seen directly, couldn’t they?
S… Right. And I used to hear the sound of chessmen while sleeping. Tak! Tak! It’s really loud. “Janggooniyo!” (which means ‘check!’) It surprises me.

The landlord family lives at the second floor. When they water a small vegetable garden at the second floor, they water pots at the front yard of first floor, from the second floor, with a hose! Awesome.


S… It seems like that this house was one story building at the beginning and the landlord heightened it by adding one more story. About half the space of upside of this room is garden. They water here and up there… Backside is shop connected to the market street. The landlord runs it.
S… The rent was originally ₩350,000/₩10,000,000. But I made it ₩400,000/₩5,000,000 to use other 5 million won for my college expenses. Considering the location, isn’t it nice price? I’m going to move out on August. Will be there anybody to move in? When I first came here, it was an office of animal protection and there was something like crane pictures on the wall.
J… Then, where do you move to?
S… Not decided yet. They say this house is about 8 pyeong including the bathroom but does not seem that big, does it? The landlord said that it would be difficult to get next tenant when I move out because it will be hot season, but I don’t think so. There was so many people wanting to get some house here. This house is so quiet that no one would notice even if someone dies while sleeping, K told me as a joke. It’s really quiet, more than you would imagine.
J… How long have you been here?
S… I moved in on the day when president Ro passed away, June 2009. We saw the TV news when we sign the lease. We said “Is it true? What a nonsense…”, while we stamp the seal to the contract and wipe the ink on it.
J… Gee… it’s been about 4 years.


J… I brought this, the laser measure~
S… Oh, cool! Let me know how to use that. Wow… how much is the area? Wow, it’s really amazing.
J… Yes, hold on like that and press. You see that light over there? Press the button. And check the number here. How much?
S… 6.386m
J… Try here, too.
S… 3.167m
J… 6 pyeong, room only, excluding the bathroom. By the way, this house looks better than next door. It feels more cosy.
S… But it’s stuffy when the rain come a little hard, like in wet season. When you keep the door closed, there’s not much sunlight, the front building blocks it.
J… I wish it were a glass door. The next door faces the alley directly, so it seems not good.
S… When I keep the door opened, I put some blind on it. A glass door would be a really good idea.
J… It’s really quiet.
S… You know, even the chessmen sounds are heard so loudly. Tak!


J… What’s here?
S… A boiler room. Three boilers are in there. One for each house.
S… In summer, we used to put a mat here and have a drink on it many times.
J… At night? Any complains?
S… One day, we turned on the music player at the room and had a drink here listening that music. Then someone upstair called the police. Maybe the noise of closing this door sounded like banging the car. Someone told the police that somebody was kicking the car. A policeman came at the middle of the night and was surprised to see us. He laughed and said, “You didn’t kick the car, did you?” “Oh, we did not.”


S… I have not cleaned the room to show you ‘the real space’.
J… Well, yet it’s neat.
S… Don’t look too closely. The floor is covered with thick dust, and there are huge cockroaches in this old house.
J… Maybe that’s because of the market. Restaurants, too. My house is also old, but there are no cockroaches. X’s house have them, too. Because of restaurants nearby.
S… It’s true. This is market area.
J… It’s heaven to them.
S… So I found how to live with them. They are really big. You see that black tape between cupboards and ceiling? Inside of that they crawl, dadadada… At first time I thought it were rats, but cockroaches. Dadadada… Then I used to say, “They came. They came.”
J… Those bookshelves, were they there from the beginning?
S… No, I wanted to make sections. At first time, there was only one big one. I put that horizontally. Then more and more books had been piled up, and more bookshelves on it, four of two shelf one. I tied them with screws not to collapse. Screwed here and there. When I first moved in, I found too many dead cockroaches in that kitchen. I was so afraid and blocked there with those bookshelves.
J… I doubt that would help…
S… But, somehow that makes me feel that it’s separated space.
J… Anyway, I couldn’t agree more with that sectioning. Opened kitchen space disturbs me.
S… At first time, this house was not a residential house and there was no bed. I saw next door and they put the bed lengthwise. That looked stuffy. Most people would rearrange their furnitures after two years of residence but I don’t like change much. I just have been lived like this, piling up and up, with less frequent cleaning.
J… It’s funny that you made those bookshelves block cockroaches.
S… It’s my habit. I had lived in dormitory in my highschool. At that time, upper bed was for freshman and lower bed was for sophomore. And freshmen had to salute everytime they climb down. It was some kind of discipline. I felt uncomfortable, so I put every stuffs on my bed not to climb down frequently. I put my bookshelves like now at that time. That long one at the side of my bed. One shelf for cosmetics and another shelf for books, computer…
J… Was there enough space at the bed side?
S… Quite enough. Some rooms put vinyl flooring, another room live with terrazzo flooring as it was. It depends on majority’s opinion among each room’s roommates.
J… Well, you have air conditioner…
S… It’s me who bought it.


J… Would you mind if I stay a little more?
S… Of course not.
J… It’s cozy. This spot is cosy.
S… Good. I’m gonna serve some fruits.
J… It’s so nice to watch outside from here.
S… It’s very calm, isn’t it?
J… Right… What’s that stain? Leak of rain or dew condensation in winter?
S… Dew formed because this sied is warm and that side is cold. It was clean at the beginning. But after 3 years…
J… Isn’t it cold in winter?
S… Not so much.
(This house really feels like a swamp. Spring sun with calm and cozy air made me feel lazy, and now I really feel like to sleep. It was the first time that I wanted to sleep in the house that I first visited.)


S… I invented this latch. Like this… It prevent the wind from swinging the door.
J… Hahaha… That’s nice~ You make fun living in your own way. 🙂
S… Pants hanger. When I first moved in, I was going to buy a screen door but it was too expensive.
J… For security?
S… For fresh air.


J… That one is impressive.
S… That’s a present for self-defence. Hahaha… “Use this when a burglar breaks in.”
J… It’s a good present.
S… My boyfriend said “A skill to live alone”, and gave it to me. That one and a polaroid. This year, I was going to take picture with this by all means… Ah, it’s really fine day.
J… Do you have film?
S… No. Oh, I will certainly use this camera this year. H was a member of photography club at highschool, and he had used this one at that time. And he says it still works.
J… Wow, it’s quite long time ago. Highschool… That camera would be quite expensive at that time.
S… Maybe he was some rich man’s son. You know, many couples carry their cameras walking the street of Samcheong Dong. I’m gonna go there to take picture.
J… You will look extraordinary, among the people who carries brand new DSLR.


J… This is homemade bread. Someone gave it to me yesterday.
S… Um, the smell is so good. It’s delicious.
S… I used to keep the door open at the daytime of Sunday, reading books alone.
J… Maybe it’s a house with less sun that is good for studying. It’s cozy and…
S… Isn’t it better with more sun? Well, yes, like library…
J… It makes me think more. When there is bright sunshine outside, I want to go outside and do some activities. My house at Itaewon is a little like that. Secluded location, less sunlight, so it’s good to study there, my friend who can feel the energy said so.
J… This house drags me down. It’s calm and cozy.
S… It’s just good for reading. And when I feel stuffy after sleeping, take a walk to Kyeongbok palace over there. At first time, I took the bicycle.
J… That’s good.
S… I had rode the bicycle everyday, then I hit by a taxi… So I bought this air conditioner with the compensation. I never meant to do so but as a result I took some benefit like an insurance fraud. 🙂



S loves these Tim Burton’s cute figures. Personally I like the one with a hammer most.

She told me that there was a nice cafe, so we took a walk around Tong-in Dong.
J… This house is pretty.
S… Looks like an old lady lives alone. Sometimes she incinerates the pile of trash at the yard.
J… Hahaha…
S… Number of people with cameras increased suddenly this year.
J… There are a lot of new things around here. Let’s see rent ad. “studio-office, 70/1500(ten-thousand won), 6 pyeong”
S… How can I read it by pyeong?
J… Mutiply three here, then divide by ten. (When you convert square-meter to pyeong, multiply 0.3025)
J… Ah, there~ You meant Coffee Gongbang! Everytime I visit this town, I go that cafe with my friends.
S… The master of Coffee Gongbang looks like a member of PSPD(a civic group). He’s holding a sponsorship coffee event, saying that he will pay back by running the second shop.
J… When I used to visit this town frequently, they held a event of free coffee for laborers at May Day.
J… Oh, this bookshop is still running.
S… It became famous after Yoon Jongsin filmed a music video here.
S… This Showbox closed their business and I bought a complete collection of the cartoon ‘Ikki’ yesterday, with 50% discount.
J… Ah, I saw only the movie, not the cartoon.

S… During three years of living here, I’ve never thought so many things and worries more than ever in my life. It was really good but I have kept pushing myself, “I should do something. I should.” But, as the time to leave came closer, my mind became peaceful. I let it go.

A thought that caught me recently is “How can I make a good and joyful life?” It’s very difficult to be honest. At the age of desire, I want to do this and that, I want to have good reputation, and so on. How can I live with joy and honesty?


한국어 ㅣ English

One thought on “S’s room @ Tong-in Dong

  1. Pingback: 네 방을 보여줘 : S의 방@통인동 | 진짜 공간 ㅣ JinzaSpace

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