The city of Jinju (South Korea) has recently been distinguished by UNESCO with the prestigious label of Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art. A recognition that refers to the city’s cultural richness and diversity, as well as to the involvement and brilliant management of the Steering Committee of UNESCO Creative City Jinju. From the CreativeTourismNetwork® (CTN), it is our honor to share with you this interview with the Committee’s Chairperson, Professor Byung Hoon Jeong (Emeritus Professor, Gyeongsang National University).
– CTN – Professor, our gratitude to you for accepting this interview.
Thank you very much for your invitation. I would like to share our pleasure of this project with you all.
– CTN – How did the project of Jinju Creative City come about?
From 2013 onwards, the city began to cooperate with local academics in developing and sharing a vision of Jinju as a creative city.
In 2016, the possibility of joining the UCCN was publicly discussed at a civic forum.
A Steering Committee, consisting of representatives from the arts and culture sector, scholars, culture planners, and officials, was set up to support the city’s application. The committee has held four international forums and over 20 workshops and has visited 11 creative cities at home and abroad to make case studies.
A 2017 public survey showed that 71.9% of the 540 respondents, representing different sectors or stakeholders of the city, were in favor of joining the UCCN.
In 2018 a Creative Industry Promotion Association was organized to implement city projects and a MOU was signed with three local universities to cultivate creative talents and promote international exchanges. Over 70 volunteers from the arts and culture sector, academia, media and industry organized the Citizens’ Meeting of Creative City Jinju to share the vision.
– CTN – What are the aims?
Jinju has been largely neglected in the process of rapid industrialization after the Korean War. As a result, Jinju lacked a strong industrial base and instead has maintained its identity as a city of history and culture. However, its appointment as an ‘innovative city’ under the central government national development policy led to a crisis of such identity: the hollowing-out of the old city center; limited social and cultural inclusion of inter-regional migrants; and cultural gaps between urban and rural areas. To resolve these problems and develop creative industries, the city is striving to:
• strengthen the city’s identity as a creative city of history and culture by promoting performing arts, crafts, and silk industries, using Jinju’s abundant cultural assets;
• restore Jinjuseong Fortress through an urban regeneration project and resolve the hollowing-out of the city center by developing the Jinjuseong area into a center of creative arts and culture; and
• host the Jinju World Crafts and Folk Arts Biennale to provide migrants with an opportunity to experience folk arts, and implement the “One Person, One Talent” program, which allows citizens to try a craft or folk arts.
– CTN – What are Jinju’s assets in terms of intangible heritage and creative and human resources?
In the folk arts field, Jinju’s cultural assets comprise two items of National Intangible Cultural Heritage (including Jinju Samcheonpo Nongak which has also been designated by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity) and five items of Gyeongsangnam-do Intangible Cultural Heritage. A traditional Korean circus, Sotdaejaengi-nori will also be designated as National Intangible Cultural Heritage. Currently, a total of 47 organizations are active in the performing arts industry.
In the crafts field, cultural assets include three items of Gyeongsangnam-do Intangible Cultural Heritage, including wooden furniture-making, ornamental knife-making, metal crafts-making, as well as Jinju’s silk industry which has 1,000 years of history. There are 185 manufacturers practicing traditional crafts and 54 enterprises in silk industry.
Based on these cultural assets, Jinju has developed its creative tourism industry by holding 10 festivals every year; these include the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival, Jinju Mask Dance & Drama Festival and Jinju Silk Fair.
– CTN – How do you manage the program?
There are a number of bodies responsible for implementing and managing the action plan. Firstly, based on a city ordinance, the Steering Committee was founded in 2017, with Jeong Byung Hoon as its chairman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Jinju Creative Industry Promotion Association and the UNESCO Team in the Urban Regeneration Division at Jinju City Office are responsible for implementing the project. The Association, which consists of the Steering Committee and the Secretariat, runs various creative city projects, while the UNESCO Team administrates UCCN-related works and organizes domestic and foreign exchanges.
Citizens’ Meeting of Creative City Jinju is an independent and open forum of about 70 cultural planners, entrepreneurs, journalists and scholars. It works as a platform to spread the UCCN mission and to gather people’s cultural desires and creativity.
Jinju Culture Research Institute, Samgwang Cultural Research Institute, Namseong Culture Foundation, Jinju Culture & Art Foundation, and Korea Silk Research Institute are other key bodies cooperating in supporting human resources and securing the funding for the implementation of the UCCN project.
Gyeongsang National University, GNTech, and Chinju National University of Education signed the MOU with the city of Jinju to foster creativity, thus enabling students to make positive contributions to Jinju’s creative industries.
– CTN – What are your main initiatives, programs, or projects aimed at achieving the objectives of the Creative City Jinju on a local or international level?
- At local level project:
(1) The “Convergence Crafts and Folk Arts Hub” Project
The city of Jinju intends to create a Convergence Crafts and Folk Arts Hub in the old city center in order to run integrated folk arts and media arts programs. The plan, which includes both software and hardware projects, aims to do the following:
• Hold contest event of convergence between folk arts and media arts to select experimental works that showcase new artistic styles.
• Hold residential workshops of Korean and foreign experts to make perfection of the selected works.
• establish a Crafts and Folk arts Media Lab to visualize the selected works; and
• build a performance hall specializing in folk arts (tentatively named “Jinju Art Hall”) to hold integrated performances in folk arts and media arts and to support their entry into domestic and overseas art markets.
(2) Craft Products Contest and Business Incubation Project
In order to develop a crafts industry based on Jinju’s traditional cultural assets, the city is holding an annual contest for crafts start-up businesses. In order to commercialize the selected items, business incubating facilities will be established within the Knowledge Industry Center.
This project aims to contribute to the promotion of cultural diversity by developing craft products that symbolize the identity of the region and linking them with the creative tourism industry and to support sustainable urban development by fostering business incubators in the crafts field.
(3) “One Person, One Talent” Project
As part of the grassroots cultural process, Jinju is initiating a “One Person, One Talent” project. This involves the city expanding and improving its community center facilities and running a folk dance dissemination program and the arts and culture delivery program. This project is a more systematic and advanced version of an existing folk arts dissemination program and seeks to further promote the cultural capacity of Jinju’s citizens through folk arts.
It is envisioned that this project will strengthen Jinju’s “City of Dance” brand and enhance citizens’ cultural rights, enabling everyone to enjoy a richer cultural life.
At international level Project:
(1) Jinju World Crafts and Folk Arts Biennale
In order to encourage the creative activities of artists in the crafts and folk arts field and to contribute to the cultural diversity mission of the UCCN, Jinju has begun holding a World Crafts and Folk Arts Biennale. A preliminary event, the World Folk Arts Gala Show, was held in 2018 and the first biennale was held in May 2019, focusing mainly on folk arts. However, from the 2021 biennale, crafts and folk arts will both be highlighted.
This biennale will become a forum for the Network’s creative cities to share their knowledge, experience, and practices in the crafts and folk arts field. Furthermore, it can promote the development of crafts and performing arts industries.
(2) Jinju Artist-in-Residence (JAR)
The JAR project aims to establish a network of global experts and to foster creative talent. These goals will be met by:
This project will promote the mobility of writers and artists, allow the exchange of innovative creative methods and ideas and contribute to the understanding of international trends in traditional and modern arts.
(3) International Magazine of Crafts and Folk Arts
In order for the Network’s creative cities to be able to share their experience, knowledge and information in the crafts and folk arts field, the city has been publishing a magazine once a year in English and Korean. The magazine will provide information on crafts and folk arts from around the world and on the latest fields of research. It will also feature interviews with renowned artisans, discussions on related issues, articles on transmission and creative activities, reviews of folk arts performances and analyses of the Network’s creative cities.
instigating new policies to establish culture and creativity
as the core axes of sustainable urban development.
– CTN – What are your expectation in terms of tourism?
By joining the UCCN, Jinju hopes to achieve a paradigm shift in urban development through instigating new policies to establish culture and creativity as the core axes of sustainable urban development. More specifically, these policies are to:
● realize a “creative city where culture and industry are balanced” by fostering crafts, performing arts and silk industries based on traditional crafts and folk arts;
● build a system that discovers, promotes and supports creative talents in folk arts, thereby building an arts and culture ecosystem and creating a “creative city model based on folk arts”;
● strengthen citizens’ accessibility to folk arts and brand Jinju as a “city of dance” in which all citizens can participate;
● develop the city into a performing arts hub, with more than five world-class performing arts groups, by developing cultural products and advancing into domestic and foreign markets; and
● develop educational programmes and competitions to integrate crafts and folk arts with other creative cities and establish an international framework for cooperatively producing and selling developed products.
First of all, in terms of performing arts, if Jinju establishes a performing arts herb and fosters more than 5 world-class performing art groups, Jinju’s performing arts industry will naturally connected to the tourism industry.
Firstly, many domestic and foreign tourists will visit Jinju for its performing arts. It will be similar like how a lot of North American tourists visit Stratford, Ontario, Canada every year to enjoy the Shakespeare Festival. Moreover, if Jinju’s traditional folk performances and new blended performances are performed at the festivals like Lantern Festival or Jinju Nongae Festival, it will make a great contribution to the festival industry and tourism industry. The Jinju Folk Arts Biennale, held every other year, will also attract many domestic and foreign tourists.
Secondly, we expect that we can revitalize Jinju’s tourism industry by developing Jinju as a city of crafts through various events such as the Jinju Traditional Crafts Biennale or crafts start-up idea contests. Especially, by using the woodcraft center to allow the tourists to learn and experience Jinju’s woodcrafts directly from the craftsmen, we can strengthen Jinju’s creative tourism.
Finally, by promoting the silk industry, tourists will visit Jinju to experience the traditional silk weaving techniques and to purchase the best silk products at relatively low cost, and this will enhance to development of Jinju’s creative tourism industry.
Byung Hoon Jeong has been working as a Professor of Department Philosophy at Gyeongsang National University from 1983, specialized in philosophy of science, British Empiricism and philosophy of culture. After studying at the special program for philosophy of science at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, he obtained his Ph.D. (1992) from Yonsei University, Korea. In his academic career, he had served as the President(2007-2009) of Korean Philosophy of Science Association: Vice president and Acting president(2015-2017) of Gyeongsang National University, Chairperson of Jinju UNESCO Creative Cities Promotion Committee( 2016-2019). Currently, he is focusing on research in the field of philosophical understanding of cultural rights, cultural diversity, and cultural strategy. In addition to publishing many papers on the subject of philosophy of science, he translated many books of philosophy into Korean, including J. Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding.