Gamcheon Cultural Village

Gamcheon Cultural Village

We’d like to coin a new term “Squalid Art” (n), meaning the art created when external artists are invited into a poor housing area to establish a tourist attraction.

Based on our day trip to Valparaiso in Chile ( you can read the post here) and now in Busan’s Gamcheon area, we are great fans of it. However, you do wonder if it’s sometimes imposed on the locals.

Established in the 1950s, as a refugee camp for Koreans fleeing the civil war, Gamcheon’s twisty lanes and steep terraces used to be one of the city’s poorest shanty towns. That was until 2009 when government money started financing the murals and art installations.

Now thousands of tourists get the number 1.1 bus up the very steep hill, buy their trail map and collect ink stamps and postcards at fun, attractive locations. However, when we wandered off the trail, the poverty that still exists behind the squalid art facade was all too obvious.


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