Orbital View: The Blue Roofs of Korea

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

This shot resembles a motherboard—a very colorful one:

Benjamin Grant credits the abundance of blue to aluminum:

The colorful roofs of Songjeong-dong—an industrial district in Busan, South Korea—are seen in this Overview. The striking colors that you see here result from the use of aluminum roofing, which is used for its low cost and longevity.

One commenter isn’t satisfied with that explanation: “Bullshit, there are many different cultural reasons for the blue roofs. The material has little to do with it.”

There are a few Reddit threads devoted to the number of blue roofs in Korea. (South Korea’s presidential home is the Blue House, named for the hue of its roof tile.) Some Redditors speculate that blue roofs were something once reserved for those with high social status—a fact I’m having trouble confirming. Are you a historian or have a solid source on it? Let me know.

(See all Orbital Views here)