Active members of the Mullae Art Village in Seoul, Korea. Last night they shared their recent projects that were central part of the unique workings of the Action for Mullae Artist Network, a movement to sustain artists’ independence.

Mullae-dong, located in Seoul, Korea, is a small district that is known for a cluster of independent steel factories. Around 2007, artists started to move into the district for the cheap studio rentals. Now in 2020, there are more than 100 artists workshops, studios, small theatres, hybrid event spaces that are run by over 300 artists and craftspeople in the neighbourhood. The symbiotic relationship between the factory owners and the artists created a community of “Makers” of industrial goods and artistic works.

In the last few years, Mullae-dong has faced gentrification and the city’s urban renewal projects. At the danger of losing the self-structured system that they built, a number of artists spearheaded a movement to sustain their independence and formed the Action for Mullae Artist Network. Among the community of artists, Park Ji-Won and Choi Rayun are two of the main organizers for the network.

Rayun works closely with elements she finds in Mullae — plants (nature), people, space. With any combinations of these components, she offers a moment to share and an opportunity to contemplate. In her recent performative work Bop (Rice), she went through the cycle of germinating rice seeds, growing them on the city rooftop, harvesting, then cooking a bowl of rice to share with a group of people. This small gesture brings together a community of people with a simple question, “Have you eaten?”

In amongst winding alleyways of Mullae, there is a small communal space called Alternative art_space IPO (IPO). Park Ji-Won is a media artist and community organizer who has been running this place since 2009. IPO is now a foundation of the Mullae Art Village, providing multi-functions for the community. It is an exhibition space and a place of gathering. It is Park’s art project in and of itself. For Park it functions as a form of resistance.