|Galleries in Alleys: Korea’s Mural Villages|
Korea is home to some unique mural villages that are interspersed across the country. Four famous mural villages beloved by both local and international visitors are Ihwa Mural Village in Seoul, Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, Dongpirang Village in Tongyeong, and Jaman Village in Jeonju. While art is often a showcase of the extraordinary, the murals tell the stories of ordinary villagers and their way of life in the mountains and coastal regions of Korea.
Seoul Ihwa Mural Village: Art in the Capital City
Ihwa Mural Village is located in Ihwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. This small village gained ground as a popular tourist destination after being featured on a TV program. The quaint older village was transformed into a mural village in 2006 as part of the "Naksan Public Project," which began with about 68 artists that painted the houses and alleys. This mural village has often been used as a filming location for Korean dramas and movies, drawing even more local and international visitors.
☞ Directions: Get off at Hyehwa Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 2. Take
a left after Marronnier Park. Walk straight and headsouthward toward the Naksan Park and you will begin
to come across murals (3 to 5 minutes).
A Gallery Near the Sea: Tongyeong Dongpirang Village
Dongpirang Village, which means “an eastern cliff,” is a small village located in Tongyeong-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, which is locally referred to as the “Naples of Korea.” The village is located on a hill behind Tongyeong Jungang Market, a major fish market in the coastal city of Tongyeong, and has a range of murals on the walls of its narrow alleys. Be sure to take a break on your way to the top of the village to take in the beautiful views of the ocean and Gangguan Port.
☞ Admission: Free
Vibrance in the Air: Busan Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village, widely known as a poor hillside village in Busan, is now known for being an artistic mural village inspired and rebuilt by locals and local artists. The village was first built as a base for the poor during the Korean War. In
the 1950s, the inhabitants started building shacks along the hillside and shared toilets and wells together.
☞ Directions: Get off at Toseong Station (Busan Subway Line 3), Exit 6. Go straight and take Bus 1-1 or 2 at Busan National University Hospital bus stop and get off at Gamcheon Culture Village.
Rural Relaxation: Jeonju Jaman Village
Jaman Village is located just across the Omokgyo Pedestrian Overpass. One of the lower-income hillside villages of Jeonju, Jaman is located in the ridge between Omokdae and Imokdae along the foot of Seungamsan Mountain’s Jungbawi Rock. Jeonju Hanok Village is also visible from the wide street. In the 1960s, Jaman Village was established with small houses built in the alleys. Accordingly, Jaman Village is a fairly steep area, and there are murals depicting scenes from fairy tales and flowers along the way. Visitors to the village may also feel the kindhearted spirit of the local residents as they walk through the alleys, because it is tourism that sustains the livelihood of the villagers. Jaman Mural Village is now included on a list of cultural heritage tour courses, along with Jeonju Hanok Village and Omokdae & Imokdae. With the increased number of visitors to the mural village, Jaman Village has become Jeonju’s newest tourist attraction.
☞ Directions: Jeonju Express Bus terminal → Take Bus 165 (Zoo·Jeonju University) → Get off at Jeondong Catholic Church·Hanok Village bus stop → Jaman Village is near the entrance of Jeonju Hanok Village