Why You Should Visit Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan

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Gamcheon Village was established in 1955 as a refuge in Busan for South Koreans displaced during the Korean War. The location offered obstacles created by Mother Nature herself. The homes were built in a staircase fashion into the sides of the two mountains that face the sea. I thought the village had re-created itself from a refuge into an artist community and cultural collective, I was wrong.

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The entrance to Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan South Korea

Gamcheon Cultural Village

According to sources close to me, and after visiting the village myself, I’ve realized its a cheap imitation of an artist’s colony to bring in tourists’ dollars. The artwork is neither good nor professional and the inhabitants themselves aren’t exactly thrilled with having the walls of their community decorated with primary level artwork. I wandered around the street wondering why it all looked so amateurish, and now I know.

In my research, I also found that many people refer to Gamcheon Cultural Village as the Santorini and/or Machu Picchu of Busan. There is no doubt it is pretty from a distance, but in my limited experience, when anyone offers up that kind of comparison it usually falls quite short of the target. This village, while unique for South Korea and should make your bucket list, is no exception to the rule.

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Gamcheon Cultural Village Site Map with Stamps

 

Get a Map at the Tourist Center

Stop into the tourism office to pick up a map and guide to the village for 2,000 Won.  All points of interest are numbered and if you visit a few names, at 5 and 11 observation decks. At stops 5 and 16 you will receive a postcard that you can mail on the spot. There are several photo stops that offer great opportunities to take pictures of the colorful homes on both sides of the mountains. The most popular seemed to be the statue of the little prince sitting precariously on the edge. I watched young girls club over the railing to sit beside him gazing off into the distance.

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Observation deck at Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan South Korea
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Gamcheon Village from one of the observation decks. Gamcheon-dong, Saha-gu, Busan, South Korea +82 70-4219-5556.


Gamcheon Cultural Village Inhabitants

It was constructed as a safe haven because of its location between the two mountain ranges– acting as a natural buffer zone.

The original village inhabitants built temporary shelters made of corrugated steel offered shelter but very little comfort. There is a museum in the village with pictures, household instruments, and farming tools. There are English speaking volunteers available.

If you enjoy Gamcheon Village, you should definitely check out the other cultural village in Busan–> HERE.

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When I walked by it I thought, hey that looks like the Little Prince or Le Petite Prince. It’s the only novel, written in French, that I have ever managed to read. And that was because it was assigned in French class.
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Love locks… on sale in this building. You can’t lock your own lock here.
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Mini Museum at Gamcheon Cultural Village wasn’t open so I couldn’t see what all this random stuff meant.
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Gamcheon Cultural Village hosts an annual festival every year and you can make you on village art.
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Gamcheon Cultural Village art collage

Shrinking Population

Fast forward a few decades later, after the war, many inhabitants decided to abandon the village, seeking employment in the newly established industries in larger cities.

As Gamcheon Village’s population dwindled, the residents took initiative, constructing larger, permanent homes and enticing the new wave of tourists. They decided to paint the exteriors of their shops and homes bright colors and turn the village into a cultural center with the installation of tiled art, sculpture, and museums as random as early history and dolls.

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A hotel for dolls seems at one in Gamcheon Cultural Village.

Shops, Cafes, and Curiosities

The tourists did come and continue to visit the villages many shops, cafes, and curiosities. We ate bulgogi bibimbap at the second-floor restaurant that I think I mistranslated called Stay Married. I say I think because you can never tell, many of the translations are strictly literal.

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As you’d expect its quite a hike to the village. You can hike it in an hour or so or you can take the metro orange line 1 to Toeseong Station and catch the short green bus marked Gamcheon Cultural Village for 1,000 ₩on. It takes you through the steep winding streets right up to the entrance of the village.

There’s no entrance fee, but expect some serious walking so wear comfortable shoes.

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There are thousands of stairs and homes in Gamcheon Cultural Village built into the sides of two mountains that straddle the sea. The Koreans have nicknames it Machu Picchu.
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Climbing the stairs to the first observation decks in Gamcheon Cultural Village.

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Comments

  1. Crystal Gard

    Travelling very far is not something I can do often but would love to at some point. These photos are beautiful.

  2. Leigh Borders

    What a truly mesmerizing area with so much art. I would love to visit here one day for myself. We have some areas in Atlanta that are similar to this that i love to visit.

  3. R U S S

    I still like it and I’m going to visit Gamcheon when I go to Korea. And when that day comes, I’ll be ready to walk a lot, hike, and take lots of photos of all those artwork. I’m sure it will be a fab experience & it’s nice that there are no entrance fees and that.

  4. mira pstr

    My Husband will love your post he is a fan of Japan, China, South Korea, he would love to organize a great trip over those countries, thank you for sharing bu the way the pictures are amazing.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Its colorful and nice to look at, but I don’t want people to go there thinking its a bonafide artists community.

  5. Kat

    I love to travel, but unfortunetaly I haven’t got many opportunities to do it:( I really like your article and beautiful pictures, I would love to visit that amazing place!

  6. Brenda

    Wow, it looks like a lot of buildings all in one place! I like the doll hotel, it looks very cute. There are a lot of neat art things in your pictures. I think I’d be afraid to sit next to that prince since it’s on an edge.

  7. Jimmy and Tina

    This has got to be the most beautiful and interesting street art I have ever seen. I love painted murals on building and structures but I like how this area takes it to another level of art . What a beautiful and colorful area and the history is also quite fascinating!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I totally agree. The art, even the bad stuff, gives you great insight to the people and their culture. I also like trying the wines. Lol

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