Busan’s Gamcheon Art Village
Busan’s a great city. Visits down here always feel too short. I did get a chance to check out Gamcheon Art Village over the weekend though. I left Saturday afternoon from Haeundae, grabbing bus number 1003 just outside Angel-in-Us coffee shop across from the Busan Tourism Center. This took me to Jagalchi Fish Market (40mins). From there I took a 10min taxi ride (KRW5,000) the rest of the way.
Set high up on a hill overlooking the city, Gamcheon is full of constricted alleyways, colorfully painted housing, steep inclines, and friendly locals. There’s a huge emphasis on art here. And for good reason. The relatively impoverished neighborhood morphed into the open-air art installation that it is to bring a little life and happiness to the area.
Once populated with refugees from the Korean War, the community has come together over the years to improve their conditions through art.
The artwork itself is pretty interesting, especially the Mirrored Wall, the huge mural at the entrance that reflects the other side of the street. When you face it from a distance, the distorted wall-sized painting looks almost like you’re entering an animated world.
Best drop into to the village center up on your right just after the entrance and grab a map (KRW 2,000). The map will lead you on an ‘art hunt’ whereby if you collect all seven stamps from the various art houses along the way you receive a handful of unique picture postcards.
There are three courses. I decided on Course A which cuts through the heart of the village and then winds its way back up to the entrance. But rather than follow the curved road that encompasses the village back, I walked all the way back down to the main road, cutting through side streets and meandering through more alleyways.
Arrows painted on the sides of the houses guide visitors through narrow streets, past embankments which boasted incredible views over the port, and into the art houses themselves.
To find out more, simply drop the Busan Tourism Office a line (they speak English), or shoot me an email and I’ll point you in the right direction.