Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tteokbokki Tuesday: Gamcheon Culture Village

I realize that it is Wednesday and not Tuesday but it was my friend's birthday last night so I was out celebrating. Apologies.

Anyways, last weekend I went to Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan with some friends. Gamcheon village was first created as a refugee camp during the Korean War. Since Busan was the last place free from fighting its population shot up rapidly, particularly in areas close to the port such as Gamcheon. These hastily erected shacks were built up with the help of Chol-je Cho and his followers. (Chol-je Cho is the founder of Taegukdo) It wasn't until recently, 2009 in fact, that the village became a cultural icon. The Ministry of Toursim enlisted the help of artisans and the village residents to transform the city into the art hub it is today.

The village is also sometimes referred to as the Amalfi coast of Korea or Korea's Santorini.

Some art installments created with the help of the residents to show you were to go

The village has many art galleries, sculptures and installments such as these. Some display themes of light and dark, others are created around the architecture of a building such as a the book cafe which is housed in a building that looks like a tea cup. Not only will you see fantastic art but wonderful views of the port. There is also hiking, cafes and many photo-spots to enjoy. Make sure to stop by the little museum to get a brief history of the village. 

Busan's version of the Namsan Tower love locks. Couples will buy a hear shaped key ring and right their initials and perhaps a sweet message, lock it to the fence and throw the key away. 

I had a lot of fun exploring this village and it is a wonderful place to get presents to send home. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Busan. 

This village was traditionally home to the poorest residents of Busan and still is. Some residents are still averse to the change and the attention it has brought, seeing their homes and village as symbols of poverty and not something to be shown off. What are your thoughts on this kind of cultural revamping or redevelopment? Do the pros outweigh the cons? How can you go about highlighting an area's uniqueness or redeveloping an impoverished area in a way that benefits the residents as much as the city?


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