When I read about Yeosu ArtLand in South Korea, it sounded like a fun, quirky art park with many interactive sculptures and activities. It sounded like a place where I didn’t have to be an adult and could have dumb fun.
Although I prefer traveling off the beaten path most of the time, I have a soft spot for weird Kitchi Tourist traps. You know the kind of places you can run around, laugh obnoxiously, and be silly, all things you just can’t do in a Buddhist temple or a place filled with traditional culture. Although all these things are true about Yeosu ArtLand, unfortunately, it just doesn’t live up to those expectations. What was even worse than not making me feel like a kid again was that the art created is for your Instagram through cultural appropriation and racism, amongst other cringy images. To an unwoke person (racist), there is nothing wrong with the fact that the statues look white or the Korean-made African art. To that person, this place is a fantasy land with wonder around every corner. I, on the other hand, was disgusted. I was disgusted that this art park was perpetuating the ideal look as being someone of European ancestry. I was also disgusted by inaccurate traditional African art being used for ascetics. This park even had, in my opinion, a rape statue of two surprised pigs, although not for the same reason.
After winding your way through the cringy statues with fantastic ocean views, they want to charge you an additional KRW 1,500 ($1.32 USDA). After Charging you KRW 30,000 ($26.49 USDA) to get in to take a picture on the most Instagramable spot in the whole place. I gladly passed on the opportunity.
After the sculpture park, we made our way to the 3D photo gallery, where a ton of intricate murals were painted on the walls. Using an AR app, you can take interactive photos with these mostly fun and harmless paintings. It is easy to get caught up in the joyful fun of the Murals until you see the white lady with culturally appropriated hair. She is playing pool in Africa outside a hut with “poverty-stricken” half-naked children watching her. This seemingly harmless portrait seemed out of place among the other landscapes, making it feel like it was painted to attract people who have a fetish of conquering Africa with a hot white woman. Grose.
The last image in the 3D art gallery did not let me forget the profoundly problematic world views perpetuated underneath the quirky, silly Instagramable art that I had come to experience.
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