Jul 07

Busan Culture Village: Surprisingly Beautiful

Busan Culture VillageWhen you think of Korean culture, you probably conjure images of the typical temples and Buddhist shrines. Korea is not known for being particularly artsy, but tucked away throughout the country are pockets of artistry and color that can catch you off guard. When I first heard of the Busan Culture Village, I rolled my eyes.  There seem to be many places throughout Korea dubbed “culture villages” that are more reminiscent of cheesy theme parks, but I decided to give this place a chance and was quite pleasantly surprised.


The Gamcheon Culture Village, or Taegeukdo Village, in Busan is nestled in the Saha-gu hills with a breathtaking view of the city and ocean below. Originally a small community of only 20 or so houses, the neighborhood swelled during the Korean War as some 4,000 refugees from other parts of the war torn country settled here, erecting around 800 wooden shacks as homes. The residents were followers of Taegukdo, a religion that believes that the Taeguk, or yin and yang symbol, represents the true meaning of life and the universe and whose symbol can be seen on the South Korean flag. The houses, in accordance with the Taegukdo religion to allow others to prosper, are built in steep tiers so that no house blocks the view of another.

Busan Culture Village

While the rest of Busan modernized and began to prosper, the quiet Taegeukdo Village remained poorer than the rest of the city and became more of an impoverished shanty town reminiscent of the Brazilian favelas. In 2009, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism stepped in with the “Dreaming of Machu Picchu in Busan” project in an attempt to replenish the suburb’s lackluster economy while preserving its traditional charm. Reparations were made, artists were hired to paint murals, and ten artworks were installed, some created with the assistance of the residents. Over the next few years more art installations were added and Busan began marketing it as a tourist destination under the name of “Busan Culture Village.”

Busan Culture Village

Busan Culture Village Busan Culture Village Busan Culture VillageBusan Culture VillageBusan Culture VillageWhile the concept of “let’s go look at some poor people’s homes because they’re artistic” felt a little strange, the locals didn’t appear too bothered by the stream of tourists and the village itself with art dazzling you from every corner was very charming. I really enjoyed strolling through the winding alleyways and exploring where each narrow staircase led to.

Busan Culture Village

Busan Culture Village

I also came across this advice… Why yes, wall, I know I’m overweight and single, I’m working on it. But thanks for the reminder.


Somewhere in the village I came across a man selling handmade jewelry (a rarity in this country) and bought this awesome and unique pair of earrings.


Busan Culture Village
When all the walking had worked up our appetites we stopped at a street vendor for some freshly made savory hotteuk (a fried pancake filled with meat and vegetables) and then hopped back on the bus for the hair raising ride down the steep, windy, mountainous road. All in all, the Busan Culture Village is an amazing and unusual place to visit and I highly recommend it!


Busan Culture Village

Busan Culture Village



Directions to the Busan Culture Village

1. Take the Line 1 Subway to Toseong Station (accessible straight from Busan Station)
2. Go out exit 6
3. Turn right at the corner. Walk up the street until you see a hospital on your right. The bus stop is right in front of the hospital.
4. Take either bus 2 or 2-2 (NOTE: they are the small buses; this is because the big buses wouldn’t fit on the narrow roads up the hill!)
5. Get off at Gamcheon Culture Village, or 감천문화마을. I was afraid of missing it, but it’s pretty obvious; it’s at the top of the hill and you’ll see the tourist information booth on your right.

Want more posts like this? Here ya go!
Holi Hai and St Patrick’s Day in Busan (a festival at Haeundae Beach in Busan)
A Chuseok Staycation (visiting temples in Seoul and Busan)



  • What amazing pistures!! I am amazed! I google it right now and plan a visit there!!

    Debbie recently posted..My Arizona dreamMy Profile

    • Thanks! Yes, if you’re ever in Korea be sure to add it to your list! 🙂