Baedari Village, so aptly named as it was used as a dock during a high tide in the past, refers to the Gumchang-dong area of Dong-gu, Incheon. It was also the place where the modern foreign ships were docked. Baedari and its vicinity had large markets and huge crowds, wherein many people are working in the nearby match, soy sauce, and rubber shoe factories. In the 1950s, nearly 40 used book stores were clustered here in order to attract students and scholars who could only afford used books due to poverty right after the Korean War. The streets filled with used book stores currently have only five of those stores—Jiphyeonjeon, Daechangseorim, Hanmiseojeom, Samseongseorim, and Abelseojeom. However, they are still carrying on the history of the village. There is a special story behind Baedari Village’s naming as Baedari Village of History and Culture. The village almost became nonexistent because of the new industrial roads and real estate development. The villagers and culture/art masters gathered to protect and beautify the village. In 2007, the village beautification project began in order to bring back vitality to the village with murals and historical expeditions, as well as preserve the used book streets, cultivate plants in properties assigned for industrial roads, host the Baedari Cultural Festival, and plan cultural spaces. Baedari Village gradually became a unique place that harmonizes the historical culture of modern times and the contemporary spaces of culture and arts. If you face toward the mural alley from
the used book streets, you will see a coarsely made gigantic steel robot. This is an installation that guards the entrance to the ‘Space Beam,’ which is an alternative art space and urban community building completed by remodeling a former brewery. The Space Beam always serves a critical role in the discussion of the current issues of Baedari Village and the creation of a sound urban community through multifaceted activities based on the local context. As you leave the Space Beam and walk toward Dowon Station, you will arrive at the ‘Walkers’ Street’, which was created by the Dong-gu Office in 2012 along the railroad. To the right, you can see the artworks arranged by the Dong-gu Office, and to the left, you can see the cute little houses from the 1970s-80s. It is fun to look at the friendly murals on the walls. Walk toward Dowon Station while appreciating the murals, and turn back toward Ugak-ro. There are three intangible cultural heritages of Incheon, namely, Incheon Christian Social Welfare Center, which was once a dormitory for female missionaries, Younghwa Elementary School, which was Korea’s first western-style elementary school, and Changyeong Elementary School, which was Incheon’s first public school. The exotic modern buildings with triangular roofs, arch windows, and red bricks are still standing strong after 100 years, as they represent the historical and cultural value of Baedari Village. The essence and significance of an old village deepen with time. We believe that the few remaining friendly views of the old town can be preserved without being influenced by the fast changes of the world.