Gamcheon Culture Village is a photogenic labyrinth of little lanes and a sweeping landscape of colourful buildings.
The ubiquity of smartphones these days and the social media networks within them begs the question: would many people be able to travel just as enthusiastically without opening their camera application?
Gamcheon Culture Village looks like a painted, fictional land
At this historical area of Busan, some of the most photogenic opportunities in the Republic of Korea come as you start your descent from the spot where buses regularly deposit tourists. It’s marked by a mural of plaques which when zoomed-out, assume the form of a fish.
Gamcheon Culture Village has a sprawling presence of colourfully painted houses, cafes, museums, art galleries and local businesses. The labyrinth of small laneways slope down the side of a mountain, so be prepared with water when you go.
Although it may be one of the most popular destinations in Busan and indeed South Korea, Gamcheon Culture Village looked vastly different prior to 2009. During this year, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism spurred the efforts of creatives and local residents to renovate local buildings with art.
The widespread push to convert the village into a cultural hub included establishing museums, painting houses, adding art installations and creating retail spaces.
Historically though, Gamcheon Village is known as a working class area with poor living conditions. In the 1920s and 1930s, Busan’s city administration relocated many working class people to this area, where they were secluded from the port but still close enough to provide the fruits of their labour.
Spend at least two hours exploring layered streets
There are many opportunities in the village. If you want to explore romantic possibilities, you can take your date to Haneul Maru where there is an observation deck. While surveying breathtaking views, you could initiate a breathtaking compliment.
If your date responds well to your breathtaking compliment, the next place to visit would be a cute cafe or friendly mum n’ pop restaurant. Over a steaming coffee or a hearty bowl of galbitang, you could draw upon your creativity (undoubtedly inspired by Gamcheon’s rainbow surroundings) and initiate another compliment. This one better make it Gam-e(cheon) over.
A famous spot to take a photo is The Little Prince and the Fox. In physical presence, these two statues looked slightly underwhelming, but they are perched in a scenic vantage point overlooking the village’s colourful architecture. A picture with them would look like it came from a fairytale. The queue of people keenly clutching their cameras evidently thought so. The security guard watching the queue didn’t look too impressed.
Another famous spot for a photo is reserved for those who love BTS, the world-dominatingly popular Korean band. More specifically, if you love Jimin and Jungkook, you will gaze lovingly at the wall displaying their images in prince-like manners.
The habit of taking photos during memorable moments is interesting philosophically. We want to store our internal, cerebral memory in an external space. This is probably the SD card of your camera. In our need to preserve the moment for future satisfaction, do we detract from our whole, uninterrupted enjoyment of the present?