Noted! Everything You Need to Know about Korea’s Stunning Purple Islands.

Korea Purple Island Aerial 4

Banwol Island and Bakji Island, known as the purple islands, are located on the south-western coast of South Korea. Originally, these island’s main sources of income were made from their farming communities, but they were able to transform their identity to pull in tourists from all over the world by painting every inch of their towns different shades of purple. 

This decision refreshed the towns and their people, creating perfect Instagrammable photograph spots in every corner! With the coronavirus making people deprived of travel, thousands of individuals have decided to visit these pretty islands to quench their travel thirst. Banwol and Bakji islands have seen an over 20 percent increase in travellers between June and August of 2020, on top of over 500,000 guests visiting since 2018!

If you ever wanted to feel like a character in a magical fairytale, keep reading to know more about the islands’ history and what you can expect!

Origins of the Purple Project

Korea Purple Islands Car

In 2015, the South Jeolla Province decided to initiate Project Purple as a way to rebrand the islands to become a hotspot tourist destination. The colour purple was chosen to pay homage to campanula flowers, also called purple bellflowers, that are native to the area. 

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. With many visiting the island and others putting it on their bucket list, who wouldn’t want to travel to a mystical world?

How to Get There

Purple Islands Transportation

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 that 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. 

There is an admission fee required to enter the islands, the price for adults is 3,000 won ($2.70), for teenagers 2,000 won ($1.80), and children 1,000 won ($1.00). However, if you are wearing purple, even an accessory, the admission is free; how on brand!

What to Do When You Arrive

Purple Islands Activities

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. They cost a cheap price of 5,000 won ($4.50) per hour. 

One of the main sites is the iconic Cheonsa Bridge that connects Banwol Island and Bakji Island. Feel the breeze of the crisp air and the sounds of the waters while passing by, it is truly an amazing experience. 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 V, formerly known as Kim Tae-hyung, who is a K-pop group member of BTS. It means “I will trust and love you for a long time.”

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. It is a breathtaking experience and a perfect backdrop for any pictures!

Where to Eat

Purple Island Food

Getting hungry while observing the thrilling views? 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. There are a plethora of delicious traditional meals that will make you feel like a local at heart. 

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.

Local Life

Purple Island Local

With the villages having only around 150 residents, this is a perfect opportunity to bond with the locals and feel at home. The residents are very grateful for the purple project and its cause of creating a tourism boom. Shin Deok-im, a 79-year-old who lived on Bakji island for over 60 years tells Insider, "Old people like us have a secluded life here since all the young people left the town, I'm glad to see young people and kids visiting to see our town. They are all like my grandchildren.”

Even though the area is heavily visited by tourists, many of them are from Korea who choose to visit the island because of travel restrictions; many describe their visit to be dreamy and mythical. Observe the local life and feel a part of their culture, it is an unforgettable experience.

Korea Purple Islands Bridge

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. Make sure to bring your camera during your travels, as the islands are too stunning to not capture!

Originally Written: Nadim Kassymov

Edited: Vinita Malik