Purple Island
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From a disappearing island to a purple-colored healing island you want to visit

Purple Island

Located on the southwestern coast of the Korean peninsula, the Sinan-gun region of Jeollanam-do Province is made up of 1,025 islands, the largest group of islands in a single region of Korea. The region is also called “Cheonsa Island,” for cheonsa can mean the number 1,004 (representing the 1,000 plus islands of the SInan-gun), and angel. Particularly, Banwoldo and Bakjido Islands were selected for the “Cultivating Islands People Want to Visit” plan in 2015, and a resident participation project was carried out to preserve the natural scenery and resources of the islands and turn them into attractive tourist resources. The islands were named after their shape: Banwoldo, which uses the characters for “half” and “moon,” is said to look like a half moon, and Bakjido is said to resemble a gourd.

The population of the two islands combined was approximately 700 until 1980, and they mainly depended on small-scale fishing, tidal flats and field farming for a living. However, as young people left their hometowns for bigger cities, by 2021 the population dropped to 130. The drastic decline and aging of the population was a key factor for residents to actively participate in the “Cultivating Islands People Want to Visit” project.

While looking for tourist resources of the island, residents focused on the fact that the balloon flowers and kohlrabi cultivated on the island were purple, and the lilac self-heals widely seen throughout the island were also purple. Since the islands were purple all year-round, Sinan-gun and the island residents decided to join Banwoldo and Bakjido Islands into one big island called “Purple Island: The Land of Purple."

First, a purple-colored footbridge connecting Banwoldo and Bakjido Islands was built and named Purple Bridge. Then, aster and lavender gardens were created near the Purple Bridge to emphasize its color.

In 2019, all the roofs of the houses on the island, the street light poles and even public telephone booths were painted purple. Some residents went as far as to change their tableware, tea cups, blankets, socks and even underwear to purple. The enchanting purple hue that covered the entire Purple Island continued into the night. The subtle purple lighting on the Purple Bridge illuminated on the dark sea after sunset creates a mystical atmosphere.

The two quiet islands transformed into the beautiful Purple Island began attracting tourists, and as more and more people visited to see the purple feast in harmony with the beautiful natural scenery various jobs were created. The increasing number of tourists and jobs made those to had left for the city return to their hometown. Purple Island became known as a “healing island” and “revival island” and soon it also captured worldwide attention. CNN called Purple Island “a photographer’s dream,” Fox News introduced it as “Purple Paradise,” and Al Jazeera described the transformation of Banwoldo Island and Bakjido Island as “reinvention of the islands.” Above all, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) selected Purple Island as one of the world’s best tourist villages in 2021.

Two small islands faced with an aging and declining population due to urbanization and industrialization saw continuous efforts of the Sinan-gun local government and its residents to revive the village. The radiant purple blossoms added vitality to the lives of villagers, and provide tourists with healing and enjoyment that cannot be experienced elsewhere.

TIP: The Sinan Tidal Flat in Jeungdo Island, designated a UNESCO World Heritage, is a 2-hour drive from Purple Island. You can experience Korea’s unique tidal flats every May to October.

Address 296 Sogokduri-gil, Anjwa-myeon, Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do

Tel 061-271-7575

Time 08:00–18:00
1-hour taxi from Muan International Airport or Mokpo Bus Terminal; or Sinan City Tour Bus from Mokpo Station or Gwangju Songjeong Station

Nearby tourist attractions

Jeungdo Island


1004 Island Dwarf Tree Park

Tae Pyung Salt Farm

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