Mabijeong Mural Village

published by Devon Furbush
Mabijeong Mural Village is quite different than what you would expect. It’s a traditional farming village that depicts life from the 1960s and 1970s. Looking at the quiet deserted roads, you may think that it’s just a wall art village, but some people live in some of the old homes. As far as I know, none of the sites and homes are remakes. Everything from the A-frame, the old well, and various farming tools laying around were used by real people long ago, or are still used today.

The artist behind the creation of the murals is named Lee Jae-do. He started in May 2012 and completed the entire village in about 3 months. While originally only doing the entrance wall, he decided to do the whole village after receiving positive reactions from visitors.

The word Mabijeong means ‘the pavilion where a horse flew’ and it comes from an old folklore about a horse. An army general named Magodam once rode through the village on his way to a battle. He’d heard of a majestic white horse that lived in the village but mistook it for another white horse named Baeki. Oblivious to his mistake, he decided to put Baeki’s skills to the test by making her outrun an arrow. If she failed, he’d kill her. When he let his arrow ring through the sky, Baeki took off as fast as she could. Unfortunately, the arrow’s speed and distance were too much for Baeki and she buckled under her feet. The angry general then slaughtered the horse with his sword on the spot. He later realized the mistake he had made when it was revealed that Baeki wasn’t the majestic horse he was looking for. It was a male horse named Pimu who lived in the same bamboo grove as her. So he built a pavilion on the village grounds and, after feeling such grief for killing an innocent animal, took his life shortly after completing it. Of course, this is just one of the few legends behind the village.

Though there aren’t any real horses living on the village grounds, you can see some interesting relics and structures. This one here is a turtle-shaped rock and the one in the middle is a penis.

I think this is the pavilion that General Magodam built before killing himself.

Next to the pavilion is a well-preserved well. What was once used for collecting drinking water now serves as a piece of nostalgia for the current residents.

This is the A-frame I mentioned earlier. Villagers strap it on like a backpack to transport wood, rice, and other goods.

This is a school desk for small children. You can see students in the murals all around the village as well.

At the very back of the village is a waterwheel. I wasn’t able to get a picture of it because I didn’t know this until after I left the village, but in the rear is the largest lacquer tree in the country. It was planted over 60 years ago by a resident named Kim Young-hak. The tree stands at 15 meters in height and has a 2-meter circumference.

A few years ago, a popular reality show called “Running Man” was filmed here. Being one of the most successful shows in South Korea, it is only right that there be an area dedicated to the episode. This boasts that Mabijeong got the stamp of approval from mainstream media.

There is an information booth at the entrance. If you want an audio tour, you can rent this little device free-of-charge. The guy working inside will scan the language of your choice (English, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese) and then you can hear the history of Mabijeong while walking around. It’s a cool little device for expats and tourists like myself. I’d never seen anything like that before, so I was quite shocked at it.

Address: 272-1 Mabijeong-gil
Catholic Execution Site at Gwandeokjeong Pavilion
Woo Bae-seon and Wolgok History Museum

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