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Changdong Art Village gets a delicious, lively new look : Area is now home to numerous art studios and restaurants, making it an ideal family getaway

Oct 09,2017
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[LIETTO, LEE SUN-MIN]
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Left: A child looks down to the land from the observatory at Marine Solar Park in Changwon. Middle: U Island, known as a fishing town, is now connected to the land through a bridge, which made the island more popular among those who want to take a quick walk around the small town. Right: Visitors take photos on The Bridge on the River Kwai, which is named after a popular American movie due to its resemblance to the bridge featured in the film. [LEE SUN-MIN]
CHANGWON, South Gyeongsang - Areas around Changwon’s Masan Burim Market used to be the hottest shopping district until the 1980s, with lots of restaurants and cafes, and most people who grew up in the area often visited to get their share of sweet treats or savory snacks after school or on the weekends.

Although the area is less popular these days, it is experiencing a revival of sorts after the Korean government and the Changwon city government renovated outdated storefronts and invited young artists to open work studios here.

Changdong Art Village, also known as Sang Sang Gil, or Imagination Road, includes many different ateliers where visitors can see craftsmen making jewelry and artists painting, as well as bookstores that sell used books, cassette tapes and records.

It was even designated one of the 10 places recommended by the Korea Tourism Organization for a visit over the Chuseok Holiday.

Many of the studios are small and nestled in alleys, but bigger art galleries are located on the main street that leads to Masan Burim Market.

Kumkang Art Museum, a renovated shoe store, is one of the largest galleries and it changes its special exhibitions every couple of months.

Another relatively big art outlet is Changdong Art Village Art Center, where visitors can get information about what’s available in the village as well as art programs for children and other special exhibitions.

At Live. Book, visitors can find independently published books. Some of the books have pages from the writer’s diary from elementary school, or of cartoons they’ve drawn.

Anyone interested in publishing their own books can inquire here to find a way to start. The bookstore also has a cafe so visitors can sit down for a while and read.

More information about art studios and galleries in Changdong Art Village is available at www.changdongart.com, but the website is only available in Korean. For more details, call (055) 222-2155.

One of the popular local restaurants is called Bokheejib, which is known for its classic-style bingsu - a dessert made of ice flakes, red beans and milk.

Locals come to get a taste of the past while out-of-towners come seeking artsy new trends, and many stop off at these restaurants to get a feel of what the area used to be like when it was the hottest spot in town.

Besides bingsu, the small restaurant has other street-style food like tteokbokki, gimbap and udon.

Next is Masan Burim Market, known for its delicious, soupy tteokbokki. The classic, thicker version is also available at many food joints inside the market.

One of the most popular is 6.25 Tteokbokki, where the food is served in a flower-shaped white container resembling a flower-pot base.

The store has been open for 30 years, and the owner is rumored to have once used such a base to catch tteokbokki soup.

Guests evidently loved the idea, as it made the dish look much prettier.

While Changwon has been trying to make a name for itself as a refurbished art town, the city also works to make its landscape more appealing and accessible, as it is located by the South Sea.

In March, the city opened “The Bridge on the River Kwai Skywalk,” which gets its name from an American movie released in 1957, as the one in Changwon looks a lot like the one featured in the film.

Marine Solar Park is also popular among young kids who want to see things from the observatory, as well as with adults, as the tower is located on Eumji Island, which is connected to U Island by a bridge.

Visitors there can enjoy a quick walk around the fishing town.

BY LEE SUN-MIN
[summerlee@joongang.co.kr]