By Rafael Hernandez
1. Moonshin Art Museum (문신미술관)
In the Chusan-dong district of Masan, there are a couple of museums that are almost free, with a great view of the Masan Bay and make for a great outing for those weekends when you want to do local tourism. The Moonshin Art Museum holds the collection of a local sculptor and painter who lived between here and Japan in his early life and then spent a good part of his work life in Paris and Europe. You can find out more about his life and works at the Museum, which costs only 500 won. The museum regularly holds different exhibits but its permanent collection is mostly made of Moonshin’s sculptures and drawings. There is a small cafe at the museum with a patio that has a very nice view and the few times I’ve been there, I’ve had the place to myself. There are usually more employees than visitors here, and even the employees are just a handful. The museum has a nice selection of postcards, drawings, and other souvenirs. It probably won’t take an hour to see the entire museum but I always spend some time sitting at the terrace with a book. It’s a great spot to read. And if that is not enough, you can always include a trip to the Masan Museum and a hike to the old fortress site as part of your tour of the area.
- Hoewonhyeon Fortress Site (희원현성지)
Next to the front gate of the Moonshin Museum (see map above) there is a set of stairs and a sign to the Hoewonhyeon Fortress Site. Going up those stairs and following the path straight up to the top of the mountain will take you to the fortress site. The hike is not hard and it takes just about 15 minutes. Just get ready for lots of those log steps they use here. There is not much left of the fortress, just some foundation work and burial mounds from the era. They restored a section of the wall and at the top, there is a reconstruction of the observation tower for the castle. It’s a great spot for a picnic while you enjoy the view of the bay.
- Masan Museum (창원시립마산박물관)
The Masan Museum is located right next to the Moonshin Museum in the Chusan-dong area of Masan. It has a rotating art exhibit on the first floor and historical permanent exhibits on the second floor. The art exhibits I’ve seen are traditional Korean pottery and paintings in one of my trips and a perspective of books on Confucius throughout years of publishing in Korea.
The historical exhibit has artifacts found on archaeological sites in the area, models of historical structures and photographs of important events in the city like the March 15 demonstrations or the growth of industry and trade in Msaan. There are also some panoramic photos of Changwon that show the incredibly fast changes the city has gone through. It’s impressive to see some of the spots we now find covered in buildings were just farmland as soon as 25 or 30 years ago.
- Somewhere in Masan
Wish I knew where this is but walking towards one of the museums in the Chusan-dong neighborhood, I ran into this community where the houses and small alleys dividing them were decorated with murals and paintings in various styles. One of the good things of walking in these old cities is finding quirky spots like this one. (If you know where this is, send us a message on our Facebook page so we can tag it!)
- March 15 Monument
This monument commemorates the student protests of March 15, 1960 against electoral fraud in the elections. The police repression and the national response to those events that started in Masan ended in the fall of the Syngman Rhee government, which had been in power since the creation of the Republic of South Korea.
- Changdong Art Village (창동 마을 마산)
A very good spot to visit if you’re in Masan is the Changdong Art Village, where many artists have their studios and schools. There are all sorts of interesting businesses among these alleys with their murals and decorated gates. I saw a tango school, pottery academy, open galleries, a chalk art store and even a small one screen theater that has been playing Love Actually since last December, at least. I’ve been here a couple of times and I wish more people found out about it and sponsored it, so the village can thrive. Frequently, you can see the artists working on their pieces while they wait for clients. If you visit the Moonshin Museum or the Masan Museum, the art village is just a short walk away so you should include it in your tour.