Sinhwa mural painting village
By Shim Hyun-chul
Especially noticeable for those who are used to the monotonous scenery of gray concrete in the city, colorful paintings on houses clustered together lead down to the whole town as if they were the local guides.
The paintings include a puppy smiling between window frames, laughing children riding horses and a gray whale wandering in the sky. These murals covering every nook and cranny of the wall express the joy of the residents and vitalize the village at the same time.
Other well-known areas like Sinhwa Village include Dongpirang Village in Tongyeong of South Gyeongsang Province and Gaemi Maeul (Ant Village) in Seoul.
Located in the southeastern city of Ulsan, Sinhwa Village was formed in 1960s for emigrants. The name “Sinhwa” reflects the sentiments of the original inhabitants to signify their will to harmonize to live well.
People who made a living by whaling in nearby areas like Maeamdong and Jangsaengpo had to move here due to the construction of an industrial complex. In the 1980s a majority of the residents left the village after the implementation of a ban on whaling.
Some changes started to appear when the village was chosen as the filming location for “The Bicycle Looking for a Whale” two years ago.
It was also selected as the spot for the “2010 Maeul-Misul Project” by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Namgu office in Ulsan and local artists began to decorate the village with “whale” themed paintings.
Colorful pictures were drawn on both sides of the walls on uphill roads and lanes with pictures of different subjects.