Arts-led revitalization, overtourism and community responses: Ihwa Mural Village, Seoul

Hayun Park, Jason F. Kovacs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Arts-led revitalization projects are increasingly being undertaken in South Korean cities to improve residential areas in decline. One of the more common initiatives involves the beautification of residential neighbourhoods through mural art. Seoul's “Ihwa Mural Village” is one of the most representative examples of the murals-based regeneration trend. The residential area's transformation by artists in 2006 has made it one of the most popular murals tourism destinations, albeit to the displeasure of a segment of the local population. In 2016, two of Ihwa Village's most iconic murals were destroyed by several residents. This paper explores the context behind the incident through in-depth interviews with key stakeholders. Our research reveals that the Ihwa mural incident was not simply a local reaction to overtourism, but also a response to the perceived unequal economic benefits accruing from the murals tourism. We offer recommendations for policy makers considering similar revitalization projects in residential neighbourhoods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100729
JournalTourism Management Perspectives
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Murals
  • Overtourism
  • Residential area
  • Revitalization
  • Seoul


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