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.
Korea’s moon villages were typically the sites of refugee squats following the Korean War in the 1950s.
Local artists have contributed their efforts in the hope of preserving historic districts threatened by rapid urban development.
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.
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.
In just a few years, Ihwa Mural Village has transformed from shanty town to tourist attraction.
Ihwa’s artworks range from paintings of flowers and fish cascading down steep stairways to giant portraits splashed across concrete underpasses.
Previously grungy walls have been brought to life with bright motifs and colorful murals.
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.
Thanks to the participants’ paintings, Tongyeong’s Dongpirang Village became a new place, revitalized by the art.
Dongpirang Village’s view overlooking the sea of Gangguan Port adds to the aesthetic.
Tourists and locals (including the neighborhood dogs) all appreciate the art of Dongpirang Village.
Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan is made up of houses built in staircase-fashion on the foothills of a coastal mountain.
The murals of Gamcheon Culture Village tell the story of Busan and relay Korea’s traditional culture.
The many alleys cutting through Busan’s Gamcheon Culture Village are vibrantly decorated with murals and sculptures created by the residents.