May 302012


Street art, Anchang Village, Busan, South Korea

Situated within the immensity of Busan is the penniless hillside village of Anchang; a remnant of the refugee camps that shantied up during the Korean Civil War. Seeing very little of the city’s prosperity, the village struggled on as Busan developed into the megalith it is today.

Before reaching the village, visitors must first endure being thrashed around in a tin can mini bus as it weaves its way up the mountainside. Ajumas ride with grace, unflinching at the near misses and speedy corners, while the weiguk on board clings on for dear life.

The lavishness of Busan fades away the higher the bus climbs. There are no super highways, subway stations, Angel-in-us-Coffee shops or tower apartment blocks in these parts. Departing from the bus, it isn’t clear in which direction one should wander. Just pick a street and get yourself lost.

A multitude of wires criss-cross above the colourful, peaceful streets and hand painted signs point to ramshackle but quality restaurants. Locals dawdle through the narrow alleys and stare on in fascination at the weiguk. Cats are free to lounge around wherever they want, unlike the strays back in the city. Make your way to the top of the mountainside and a sweeping view of Busan is yours.

Emulating the success of other poor “villages” in Busan (see Taeguk), Anchang has given over its walls for murals of art. The main road in and out of town collates the graffiti, paintings and sculptures that make up the living art gallery. Many of the interactive works make for beguiling photos. In fact, the facade to most houses and many of the village’s other nooks and crannies contain some sort of artwork.

Small numbers of visitors have made their way up here in order to view these works and get a feel for Korea’s past. The privation only adds character to the village and you may begin to wonder in which half of the Korean peninsular you have come.

Streets of Anchang Village, Busan

Take the No.1 mini bus from exit 5 of Bomil station on the orange line 1. Get off at the last stop.

View Seomyeon Area in a larger map

Leave a Reply