The Purple Islands in South Korea

Ayushi Saxena, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh

The Purple Islands? I know for a fact that at first the name may sound awkward but trust me when I tell you that South Korea has a place where everything you see is covered in purple colour.

Picture Credits: Shinan County

Located in the southwest side of South Korea, The Purple Islands is a set of two islands – Banwol and Bakji, connected by a purple bridge that has been decorated in the colour purple. They are in the Sinan County or the group of Sinan Islands renowned for its aesthetic layout worthy of K-Dramas, surreal views, and mineral-rich resources like salt and seaweed. Both these islands are relatively small in size but attract large numbers of tourists around the year. The colour Purple was inspired by the native balloon flower found on the islands.

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Because of the island’s dark history such as slavery and forced labour, In 2015, the South Jeolla Province decided to initiate Project Purple as a way to rebrand the islands to become a hotspot tourist destination. To pay homage to campanula flowers, also called purple bellflowers, that are native to the area the purple colour was chosen. To turn all of the island purple, from stores to bridges, Shinan County has invested over 4.8 billion won ($4.25 million) to implement this initiative. Some actions involved farmers growing beets and kohlrabi and the government planting over 21,500 square meters of lavender fields, as well as 30,000 New England asters! The project was supported by the Korean government as well as its residents. This decision worked in the county’s favour, with the rebranding quickly becoming a trending topic around the world.

Picture Credits: Shinan County

Everything on the Purple Islands is purple. It goes beyond one’s imagination such as the roads are painted purple, the buildings are painted purple, the rice has been dyed purple, they serve food on purple plates, even the locals dress in purple, the flowers – Lavender and Asters grown here are purple too.

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There are two main transportation options when travelling to Banwol Island and Bakji Island from Seoul, Korea’s capital. Many use their cars, with a total travelling time of around 6 hours. Make sure to take the bridge to Banwol Island, but you will have to leave your car in the parking lot outside the town as outside cars are not permitted. The more popular route would be taking the KTX (Korea Train eXpress) from Seoul which goes to Mokpo Station. Once there, take the bus to Anjwa-Myeon (Anjwa Village), where another specific bus will bring you to the purple islands. Tourists who wish to visit the island need to pay an entry fee but if you are wearing purple clothes or have any accessory that is purple in colour you’re allowed free entry to the islands. The islands have drawn more than 487,000 visitors since the campaign started in 2019 and saw a rise in the number of visitors during the pandemic as people were not allowed to travel overseas.

Picture Credits: UNWTO

Actually, there are a few natives still on these islands. There’s not a lot, far less than you can imagine. Since both islands are predominantly farmlands, most of the natives still on the islands are farmers. They’re mostly older people, too, since many of the younger generations left. This is why the islands have taken so much to be a tourist attraction because their population is lowering but the residents feel happy to see the visitors, especially the younger generations.

Picture Credits: Reuters

The main activity of the islands is viewing the beautiful purple sites the islands have to offer. The perfect way to do this is to simply walk around the area, which in total is around 6.2 kilometers, making it reasonable to view the whole region! If you don’t enjoy walking, you can rent a bicycle to freely explore your surroundings. One of the main sites is the iconic Cheonsa Bridge that connects Banwol Island and Bakji Island. The name of the bridge itself translates to Angels Bridge. You will see benches decorated with stickers that say “I purple you”, a popular saying made by Kim Taehyung (aka V) who is a member of the K-pop boy band BTS. It means “I will trust and love you for a long time.” “I Purple You” which is “Borahae” in Korean. For those who love to connect with nature, take a hike up Mount Eoggae where you can get the best views of the towns and the purple scenery.

Picture Credits: The Korea Herald

The main place to eat is Bakjido Restaurant, where all the dishes are made with a purple hue to fit the theme of the islands! Here you will be able to taste true local Korean cuisine, with main pork and seafood varieties. If you are craving a hot cup of coffee to boost your energy, there is a nearby purple coffee truck that will quench your thirst and give you a warm sensation.

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The purple islands are a must-visit for those who want to travel to a unique place, one that you will always remember and cherish. 

67 Comments Add yours

  1. Asma Pandey says:

    It’s an interesting place

  2. Samiya Parvez says:

    Love for Korea has increased more <3

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