부산. 釜山. Busan
감천문화마을. Taegeukdo Village
(Information from KTO) “Korea’s Santorini.” “Korea’s Machu Picchu.” “Lego Village.” These are the many nicknames the Busan neighborhood of Gamcheon 2-dong has earned over the years. And as you stare out upon the community from the bus stop in front of Gamjeong Elementary School, you instantly understand why. Spread out below you is a panorama of endless rows of low-rise cubicle homes climbing up the steep hillsides from the sea below, their cheerful blue, yellow and pink hues a delight to the eye.
Taegeukdo Village’s unusual name reveals the community’s unique origins. During the Korean War, some 4,000 followers of the Taegeukdo religion settled in this neighborhood, erecting as their homes some 800 wooden shacks. Founded in 1918, Taegeukdo is an offshoot of Jeungsando, one of several new religious movements that arose in Korea in the social and political tumult that characterized Korea at the turn of the 20th century. The religion believes the taegeuk—the yin and yang symbol found, among other places, on the Korean flag—captures the true nature, principle and mystery of the universe. In 1958, the 4,000 believers in Busan were joined by more from elsewhere in Korea. In the following decades, the village has changed relatively little. In the 1980s, some 20,000 people called it home, but since then the population has dropped to about 10,000, leaving a good many of the homes empty. The head temple of Taegeukdo can still be found in the village, although most residents are, in fact, not believers in the religion.