Kangkangee Arts Village
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AT touch of art that filled the fierce worksite of a shipyard in Busan's Yeongdo Island

Kangkangee Arts Village

Korea’s modern shipbuilding industry started in Daepyeong-dong, Yeongdo-gu, Busan. After the opening of the Port of Busan in 1876, Tanaka Shipyard was Korea’s very first modern shipyard constructed in 1887. Korea’s first motor-powered ship was built at Tanaka Shipyard, and with repair yards, ship parts factories, ironwork and scrap metal shops opening up near the shipyard and port the shipbuilding industry of Daepyeong-dong flourished in the 1940s. The outbreak of the Korean War (1950–1953) in 1950 had a significant effect on the shipbuilding industry in Daepyeong-dong.

Many of the refugees who settled in Busan headed to Daepyeong-dong in search of jobs, and the shipyard as well as other industry businesses provided various job for the unskilled refugees. “Kkangkkangee” was one of such jobs.

The first thing to do when a ship came in to the shipyard was to remove stuck on seaweed and rust with a hammer, and the metal clanking sound, “kkang kkang” in Korean, is why the job was called “kkangkkangee.” When Daepyeong-dong's ship repair industry bloomed in the 1970s to 1980s, the area was filled with clanking sound, and thus the surrounding village was also called “Kkangkkangee Village.” Mostly middle-aged women did the kkangkkangee work, and although it did not require much skills, the job was considered strenuous and dangerous.

The loud and non-stop clanking caused hearing loss, and because they worked hanging from the high ships there were many falling accidents. Nevertheless, the women of Daepyeong-dong coudn't quit their job as they needed the money to help feed and educated their family. They were undoubtedly the heroines of the Kkangkkangee Village and the foundation of the development of the Korean shipbuilding industry.

“The first thing to do when a ship came in to the shipyard was to remove stuck on seaweed and rust with a hammer, and the metal clanking sound, “kkang kkang” in Korean, is why the job was called “kkangkkangee.”

The ship repair industry, which reached its heyday along with the booming deep-sea fishing industry in the 1970s to 1980s, began to decline as the shipbuilding industry suffered a recession after the 1980s. Many repair yards closed as ships became larger and larger and the number of ships that needed repair decreased, and the docks of Daepyeong-dong had not been dredged for over 100 years only small shipyards remained as large ships could not enter nor exit. As a result, ship parts companies and ironwork also scaled down and many workers left Kkangkkangee Village. Hospitals, pharmacies and banks also moved out as young people left and the village population declined. Kkangkkangee Village naturally became a quiet and forgotten village. 

With the start of the Kkangkkangee Village Urban Renewal project in 2015, a new wind of change blew into Kkangkkangee Village. The aim of the project was to see the historical village in a new light while retaining the original value and ambiance of the port city of Busan, and the fierce determination of the hard-working residents who led Korea’s industrial development.

Domestic and foreign artists and the villagers shared their ideas and thoughts to create various artworks, which served both as art and public facilities, that would revitalize the Village.

The works distributed throughout the village included kinetic art, cloud-shaped street lamps, and paintings depicting familiar images of Kkangkkangee Village. These works of art harmonized with the original houses and buildings to create a vibrant atmosphere. The ships that once shared the rise of the old Kkangkkangee Village now greet tourists with new stories. A cruise tour led by a kind and friendly elder who has lived in the village all his life takes tourists back to the golden years of the Kkangkkangee Village.

A town that once housed nine shipyards and some 300 industrial companies. A place where dust and noise created by the clanking represented the tough lives of its residents. A rusty village discarded and forgotten due to urban development was revived through urban renewal at the hands of artists. Villagers proudly cherish the history of the village, and people who visit the Kkangkkangee Arts Village in search of hidden treasures can appreciate the artworks filled with stories of the past. 

TIP: The Kangkangee Sea Tour on a very colorful Kangkangee boat takes passengers on a 20-minute tour along the South Port and shipyards in Daepyeong-dong.

Address 36 Daepyeongbuk-ro, Yeongdo-gu, Busan

Tel 051-418-3336

Time 10:00a.m. - 17:00p.m.
15-minute walk from Toseong Station, Busan Subway Line 1

Nearby tourist attractions

Taejongdae Park


National Maritime Museum of Korea

Jeoryeong Coastal Trail

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