A popular cultural attraction and one of Taiwan’s most ‘Instagrammable’ sites has reportedly been defaced by operators contracted to run it, after they were told to move for six months while restoration work was underway.
It was discovered on Friday that many of the walls in the Rainbow Village had been coated in paint overnight. Police arrested 14 Rainbow Creative Co employees for questioning them about the alleged vandalism, including company chief Wei Pi-Jen, who defended their actions as protest rather than “malicious destruction”. They were released on Sunday.
Rainbow Village is a former military compound located in the city of Taichung on the west-central coast of Taiwan. Many similar villages, once common in Taiwan as housing for veterans’ dependents, have been demolished. In 2008, as downtown Taichung expanded towards its outskirts, the site was allocated for development and residents received compensation to relocate.
The last remaining resident was a former soldier, Huang Yung-Fu, who had lived in the village for over 30 years. Not wanting to leave, Huang began painting dozens of nearby houses, and his work caught the attention of local university students who campaigned to save the site.
It would now welcome 1 million visitors a year, attracted by the bright and colorful murals covering the quirky little houses. Under contract with the Taichung city government, Rainbow Creative Co maintained and operated the village as a tourism business for nearly 10 years, while Huang continued to live there.
In a handwritten note obtained by local media, Huang, 99, said he was very sad to hear of the destruction of the murals. “A lifetime’s work was destroyed by him,” Huang said, referring to Wei.
Through social media and Google’s criticism of the attraction, Taiwanese expressed their anger against Rainbow Creative Co, with many calling for legal action.
“There are many ways to handle things, and you use the method that everyone thinks is the least ideal,” one commenter said in response to the company’s post. Another said: “Whoever provokes you, you should go to that person. Why involve Grandpa Rainbow? You wasted most of Grandpa’s hard work like this, won’t your conscience be worried? »
Rainbow Creative Co defended the actions, saying Wei owned the copyright to the murals, and accused the city government of “administrative abuse” by kicking him out with just five days’ notice. “Why not give us advance notice or an announcement so we can prepare ahead of time, instead of completely ignoring the livelihoods of our 22 employees?” It said.
Wei said the act was the “only way to protect my rights and interests”, and that none of the works concealed by his team were painted by Huang. The two parties are involved in a legal dispute over profit-sharing and copyright.
Neither party could be reached for further comment.
Additional reporting by Xiaoqian Zhu