Story: Nguy Ha

Story & Photo: Nguy Ha & Le Minh Son

Brightly painted murals have transformed a small fishing village in Quang Nam province

“I am truly moved as portraits of my family were depicted with such beauty on our wall,” said Mrs. Luong Thi Tuong Vy, a resident of Trung Thanh Village. “They look even more beautiful than in real life! My family enjoys the mural very much and feels proud.”

Another local resident, Mr. Tran Van Dong, said: “These paintings absolutely changed the façade of my house. I find them so colorful and bright. My two children also enjoy them so much. Since these paintings were finished, my store has received more customers.”

Located in Tam Thanh Commune in Quang Nam province, Trung Thanh Village hosted a Korea-Vietnam fine arts exchange project organized by the Korea Foundation and UN-Habitat. Five Korean artists and a group of volunteers from both countries were supported by youngsters from Tam Thanh Commune to create these magical works. Nearly 70 murals were completed in various styles, including painted murals, graffiti and mosaics. The topics were also equally rich and included the coastal inhabitants and their fishing vessels; kids sleeping on a coracle or playing in the sun; a Quang Nam girl selling fruit; and mothers and grandmothers busy packing baskets of fish. You can also spot fantasy figures such as fairies, a snowman or aquarium parks for the local children to admire.

Tourist Vu Thanh Hien explained: “I was on holiday in Hoi An with my family when a friend shared some pictures of these murals. I found out the location of Tam Thanh Commune, Tam Ky City. A new road was recently built across the Cua Dai Bridge and it took my family just one hour to reach the village. It was so worthwhile since this art village is gorgeous. I like the bond between the murals and local daily life, which really sets Vietnam’s first mural village apart.”

The Korea Foundation and the participating artists spent a week doing research here before undertaking the job. They talked with each participating family to understand their needs and exchange ideas. The art director proposed an overall idea for the entire village. The artists sketched the murals’ designs and locals added background colors. Because they were involved in their creation, the locals cherish the final works and are more determined to preserve them. The murals are beautiful and uplifting and teach village kids about the power of fine arts.

Contributing artist Choi Lak Won said: “Trung Thanh reminded me of fishing villages in Korea with its little homes, moderate population density and slower pace of life. I hope my works will help to make the locals happier and cheerier. With its clean azure beaches, in the foreseeable future this mural village will help to make Tam Thanh a fantastic destination for young couples.”

Korea Foundation representative Mr. Park Kyong Chul said: “Cultural tourism is on the rise in Korea and murals offer huge value for cultural tourism. This project, as well as improving people’s lives and introducing them to the arts, also brings new opportunities for exchange to enhance the close ties between Vietnam and Korea.” Working with locals to create murals has met with success in places around the world, including Dongpirang Street in Tongyeong, Korea and in Medellin, Colombia. As well as adding beauty to communities, these murals help to draw tourists and boost locals’ incomes.