[Postponed to 2020] Galnam Village at Risk: Can this 300 year-old fishing village be saved?

Saturday, October 5, 2019 -
7:00am to 8:30pm
Jangho & Galnam Villages in Samcheok
W205,000 for members and W245,000 for non-members
Tour Leader: 
Prof. Daniel Oh (Department of Architecture, Korea University)
  ì´ë¯¸ì§€: 하늘, 바다, 구름, 실외, 물, 자연

Galnam Village at Risk: 

Can this 300 year-old fishing village be saved?

** The tour has been cancelled again, as the village has been severely damaged by the typhoon. This tour will be rescheduled in 2020. 

Meeting Point:  In front of the Yongsan Post Office, near Exit 1, Sinyongsan subway station (신용산역) (Blue line/Line 4, #429). At 7:00 am. 

Please RSVP by Monday, October 14, 2019 by clicking here(Will be confirmed by Wednesday, October 16)


A weekend visit to Galnam Village, a fishing village at risk is the unusual but anthropological tour offered by the RAS. This unique RAS tour will be led by researcher and urban landscape expert Daniel Oh as he seeks to answer the question “in the tumultuous push for urban development, can a 300-year-old fishing village be saved?” Daniel will lead the overnight tour to Galnam Village, just south of Samcheok on the east coast. He will give commentary on the vibrant 300-year history of the village and its recent decline in commerce as urban needs undergo modern cultural changes.

For two days RAS members and others interested will be guided through the village, experience village life, interact with villagers (a handful of haeyneo, sea captains, fishermen, …) and participate in thoughtful village activities. Accompanying Daniel Oh are two researchers from the National Folk Museum of Korea, and who will also provide a late evening lecture on the beach. In 2013, NFMK chose this fishing village to document and archive based on Galnam’s heritage and physical environment as being one of the most well preserved fishing villages in the country. Subsequently, the NFMK opened a small museum in the village based on its two-volume in-depth publication, a result of a full year of researchers and photographers documenting every aspect of the villager’s lives and the spirit of the village itself.

To understand more about Prof. Daniel Oh (Department of Architecture, Korea University) and his research pursuing ongoing cultural sustainability for the village, he writes:


Galnam Village at Risk : Can this 300 year-old fishing village be saved?

How can a 300-year-old village survive when they have exhausted all of their resources other than tourism? When today’s tourism tends to consume and extract the cultural and social assets of the community, can we come up with a narrative that highlights socially responsible tourism? And ultimately, how can we help to regenerate derelict neighborhoods for the residents and the community while retaining their authenticity?

Since 2016, I’ve been working with Galnam Village, a fishing village that has 300 years of history in order to regain its vitality in the East Coast of Korea. Galnam is one of the oldest among a handful of fishing villages left in Korea that still retain the original settlement pattern and traditions. With industrialization of the fishing industry and cheap imported seafood supplanting fishermen’s jobs, these fishing villages have failed to retain young residents. In fact, 70% of the residents are over 70 years old, the typical trend in countryside villages in modernized, urbanized Korea.

Ironically, Galnam is going through turbulent times as the neighboring village gets a complete makeover. In recent years Jangho Village, the neighboring village, received numerous media coverages and SNS attention for “nude kayaking.” As visitors increased, the local government followed up with various investments including building a cable car gliding over Jangho’s crystal clear cove. With more advertisements and media attention, the village became one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Korea. Yet, as visitors flooded into Jangho and investment pressures followed in the form of new accommodations and leisure commercial developments, a once charming fishing village became culturally destroyed. Galnam, seeing only the “success” of Jangho, greatly desires a piece of the latest wave of investment from outside, but local government advocates caution. As a researcher in urban development, I have become part of a committee to uncover alternative solutions to modern development, and to suggest solutions for local culture sustainability.

My involvement began as the master planner for the local government, City of Samcheok, when the city asked me to help find a “sustainable” model for this 300-year-old fishing village. The city officials feared the village would completely loose its “authenticity” in the impulsive grab for tourist attractions which would ultimately replace their traditional village ambiance with new “cheap” pensions. In accommodating tourists, consumers of “unique” places, Galnam’s unique atmosphere would be forever lost in the short-term pursuit of making a quick buck.

The dilemma is this: What to do and how to advise the residents of Jangho? Conservation or Development? What is the role of the local government and also for a planner like myself? And ultimately, who should benefit from this “intervention”?

On the master plan for the village, I’ve identified the foreign community as a potential group that can help the village restore its vitality, dignity and build self-reliance. One strategy for economic regeneration is to make the village attractive for international tourists as well as Koreans with an appreciation for “authentic” and “unique” experiences in Korea. With a 300-year-long history interwoven with village traditions, I think conservation-based place marketing is the right approach in this village.

We’re privileged to have two researchers from the National Folk Museum of Korea accompany us on this excursion. They are along as field research guests and will be sharing highlights of their 2013 year of research in Galnam Village as documented in their two-volume publication. 

The trip will be two days long including a night stay. There will be two types of accommodations available: traditional “minbak” style accommodation which means staying with a local resident or "pension" modern style accommodation, a newer accommodation fitted with en-suite bathroom. Since the village has no restaurant, every meal will be prepared traditional community style with the help from several villagers.




Saturday Oct 5. 2019

    7:00am Bus leaves from Yongsan Post Office

    11:30am Arrives in Jangho Village

    11:30am Lunch at Jangho Yonghwa Tour Land (*not included in the price)

    12:30pm Samcheok Cable Car

    2:00pm Walk to Galnam Village

    3:00pm Greetings from Villagers

    3:30pm Walking Tour

    5:00pm Check-in and Meet at Secret Kitchen

    5:30pm Dinner Preparation with villagers (Learn to cook with local ingredients)

    7:00pm Dinner

    8:00pm Lecture by National Folk Museum of Korea

    10:00pm Drinks by the Sea

Sunday Oct 6. 2019

    7:00am Continental Breakfast @ Secret Kitchen

    9:00am Galnam Village Museum Visit / Docent

    11:00am Lunch Preparation

    12:00pm Lunch

    1:00pm Check-out

    1:30pm Personal Exploration / Mission

    2:30pm Bus Leaves from Galnam / Arriving in Haesindang Park

    4:00pm Leaves from Haesindang Park

    8:30pm Arrives in Seoul 


Please register your RSVP for the Galnam Fishing Village tour
by Monday, October 14, 2019 by clicking here.
Please register one RSVP at a time.

                 ☞Payment to be remitted to the following account:
         SHINHAN BANK ACCOUNT # 100-026-383501 (RAS-KB)


Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is normally open as follows:

Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays:
                                   10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesdays & Thursdays: 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please call before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796

Email - royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

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