Samtan Art Mine – Jeongseon, South Korea - Atlas Obscura
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Jeongseon, South Korea

Samtan Art Mine

This former coal mine has been turned into a sprawling modern art complex. 

Instead of just being left to rust away, Korea’s abandoned Samcheok Mine has been converted into an impressive contemporary art complex that highlights both fresh voices in modern art and the area’s rich history of mining.

Opened in 1962, the Samcheok Mine was a huge operation employing around 3,000 people from the nearby area. As the demand for coal waned, thus did the fortunes of the huge plant, and it closed its doors in 2001. While many mines the world over have been left to rot after being shut down, becoming playgrounds for urban explorers and graffiti artists, there were grander plans for the once-thriving mine.

In an effort to bring tourist dollars to the area as compensation for the income lost now that the plant was no longer in operation, the Samtan Art Mine was born. Each of the buildings, whether industrial or office, was refurbished and turned into a dynamic new space for modern art. The old shafts were cleaned up and lit to accentuate their natural beauty, and many of the coal-stained workers’ areas were converted into memorials to those who lost their lives both figuratively and literally while working on the site. 

Today the site is a vibrant locus of contemporary art that has not forgotten its industrial past. 

Know Before You Go

Just type the phone number into your GPS or follow the directions of one of those maps you pick up at the tourist office or hotel counter,