I always knew I was going to love visiting Korea. As it happens, I’ve sacked off the rest of my trip to stay here (with the exception of a two week sojourn to Japan). Its vibrancy and commitment to the arts (ahem, K Pop IS an art, as I seem to have to keep convincing people) are astounding – particularly when you consider the fact that within my parents’ lifetime, it has:
Bloody bravo, Korea. 50% of the country’s 51 million inhabitants reside in the capital, Seoul, but the creativity of culture exists all over. No more quaintly is it represented than by Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan.
Gamcheon itself has an interesting history. Once a Korean version of a slum, it then became a (relatively) safe haven for the refugees forced down to the ‘Pusan Perimeter’ in the south east of the country. Actually, the Pusan Perimeter was that 10% of remaining South Korean territory during the Korean War, and the only part of the country that North Korea never held. As the displaced Koreans sought refuge in this part of the country, they quickly erected shanties on the hillside and complied to the town’s yin and yang religion, Taegukdo. Fun fact: the town is also known as Taegukdo Village. The refugees and Taegukdo sect rebuilt these shanties into concrete homes, which make up the ‘skyline’ we can see today.
So in true Korean style, a fraught history has laid the foundations for creative and colourful surroundings. Rather than blather on about each individual part, I’ll let Gamcheon Culture Village speak for itself through my camera lens…
Take Line 1 to Toseong station and then either bus 2, or bus 2-2 from in front of the hospital. It’s free to enter, though they sell maps at the entrance for the princely sum of 2,000 won (about £1.20).