A farming community in South Korea came up with a novel way to attract visitors — and it’s definitely Insta-friendly. Banwol Island, which is located off the west coast of southern South Korea, has reinvented itself as “the purple island” by painting the roofs of around 400 buildings, telephone boxes and even a large bridge in shades of purple. There are also fields of lavender for even more purple-hued selfie opportunities.
The COVID-19 crisis has been an unexpected blessing in disguise for the area’s visitor numbers. Because South Korea’s borders are basically closed during the pandemic, the purple island has turned into something of a staycation hot spot.
According to CNN, the island had more than 100,000 visitors between June and August 2020 — a 20% jump from the previous year. And since 2018, more than 490,000 guests have visited the tiny Banwol Island and nearby Bakji Island, which have less than 150 residents.
You can see an aerial view of the island community’s purple roofs in this Facebook post:
The purple project started in 2015 as part of South Jeolla Province’s branding initiative to “create attractive island destinations.”
The inspiration was the purple bellflowers (campanula) that are native to the area, and farmers have started planting beets and kohlrabi to expand on the color scheme. The local government also planted 30,000 New England asters and 21,500 square meters of lavender fields.
A bridge makes it possible to walk between the islands of Banwol and Bakji — and it’s purple, of course. This Facebook post shows a group of purple-lovers posing under a vibrant purple structure:
Many visitors are sharing their snapshots from the purple island on social media, and embracing the purple theme in their matching outfits, like the duo in this Facebook post who coordinated their lilac-colored shirts with their surroundings:
It takes about six hours to get to the islands from Seoul, either by bus or private car. When you get there, you can enjoy a cafe, two restaurants and a small hotel. You can also rent bikes, though we’re not sure if they’re purple or not.
The folks in this Facebook post even have purple umbrellas for their stroll over the purple bridge:
According to Bourn Creative, the color purple is often seen as having sacred meaning. It’s associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power and ambition, and may also represent wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, peace, pride, independence and magic.