15 Must-See Photos of South Korean Street Art

Colorful street art brightens up Seoul's residential neighborhoods | © Mimsie Ladner
Colorful street art brightens up Seoul's residential neighborhoods | © Mimsie Ladner
Photo of Mimsie Ladner
14 March 2017

There’s no question that Korea is a country for art lovers. From internationally renowned museums to obscure independent galleries, there’s a space dedicated to just about every genre and medium of visual art. But there’s also a fascinating street art scene that’s quickly developing – previously shabby neighborhoods are getting facelifts in the form of colorful murals and art installations.

The past few years have seen artists of all ages and backgrounds targeting run-down, ramshackle neighborhoods with an aim to transform Korea’s preconceptions about these slums by embellishing their streets with colorful art works, on mailboxes, windowpanes, gates and even houses. Many of these areas are known as daldongnae (moon villages), a name derived from their hilltop locations, which were traditionally believed to provide a better view of the moon than the villages below.

These vibrant, picturesque neighborhoods can be found throughout South Korea. Check out some of the most popular in the images below.

Moon village | © travel oriented / Flickr

Korea’s moon villages were typically the sites of refugee squats following the Korean War in the 1950s.

Art work brightens the streets | © travel oriented

Local artists have contributed their efforts in the hope of preserving historic districts threatened by rapid urban development.

Angel wings | © KoreaNet / Flickr

Organizers of the initiatives have worked hard to integrate neighborhood residents into projects, with the aim of fostering a meaningful relationship between locals and tourists.

Ihwa Mural Village | © Wei-Te Wong / Flickr

A steep walk up the slopes of Naskan in northern Seoul leads to Ihwa Mural Village, one of the country’s most famous moon villages.

Super hero street | © travel oriented / Flickr

In just a few years, Ihwa Mural Village has transformed from shanty town to tourist attraction.

Swimming fish | © Wei-Te Wong / Flickr

Ihwa’s artworks range from paintings of flowers and fish cascading down steep stairways to giant portraits splashed across concrete underpasses.

Street diver | © Mimsie Ladner

Previously grungy walls have been brought to life with bright motifs and colorful murals.

Community art | © KoreaNet / Flickr

Tongyeong Agenda 21 gathered people throughout the nation to paint murals on the walls of Dongpirang-gil Street in the southern city of Tongyeong in 2007.

Tongyeong alley | © KoreaNet / Flickr

Thanks to the participants’ paintings, Tongyeong’s Dongpirang Village became a new place, revitalized by the art.

Amazing view | © Thomas Park / Flickr

Dongpirang Village’s view overlooking the sea of Gangguan Port adds to the aesthetic.

Even the dog loves it | KoreaNet / Flickr

Tourists and locals (including the neighborhood dogs) all appreciate the art of Dongpirang Village.

Gamcheon Culture Village | © Cezzie901 / Flickr

Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan is made up of houses built in staircase-fashion on the foothills of a coastal mountain.

Story telling mural | © cezzie901 / Flickr

The murals of Gamcheon Culture Village tell the story of Busan and relay Korea’s traditional culture.

Wall art | © Cezzie901 / Flickr

The many alleys cutting through Busan’s Gamcheon Culture Village are vibrantly decorated with murals and sculptures created by the residents.

Korea’s mural villages are full of surprises | © Wei-Te Wong / Flickr

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