A view of the east side of Jeju Photo Courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
Jeju will officially begin its reign as an East Asia City of Culture this month, as it opens its doors to a year of cultural exchange between Jeju, Ningbo in China and Nara in Japan.
The East Asia Culture City is held annually and promotes exchanges between the three regional neighbors. As Korea’s 2016 representative city, Jeju will organise a range of cultural events with participation from all three countries throughout the year.
Taking inspiration from the successful implementation of the European City of Culture, the East Asia City of Culture first started in 2012 and it aims to promote intercultural understanding and harmony in the region.
The designation also serves another purpose for the holder. A spokesperson for Jeju’s Culture City of East Asia Promotion Committee said that they hope Jeju’s role will, “not only advertize Jeju’s culture in East Asia but also in all countries of the world. We want Jeju to be at the center of East Asian cities and to build a network so Jeju can lead the international culture exchange programs.”
Relations between the three countries have sometimes been strained and, as a destination popular with tourists from all three countries, Jeju has a vested interest in helping to improve these relations.
A spokesperson for the promotion committee once again stated that they thought the East Asian Culture City programme would only have positive effects on these relations. They said that “the purpose of the Culture City of East Asia is to resolve conflict among the three countries. Through the culture exchange programs, people from each country can understand each other and these programs will help to increase the spirit of community in East Asian countries. Also, we anticipate this event will be a trigger to improve relationships.”
Along with the benefits of improved relations between the three countries, Jeju and the people of Jeju can expect to see sizeable benefits come in from the program. It is a good opportunity for residents to experience and share the cultures of Japan and China and also the Jeju spokesperson pointed out, due to its status as a culture city Jeju “expects to see an increase in tourists and to expand opportunities to enjoy culture.” They also hope that it “will be a good opportunity to build up a foundation since Jeju wants to be an island of culture and art and because of expanding international culture exchange, we expect it will have a synergizing effect.”
The first of these cultural exchanges will be seen at the opening ceremony which will be held at the ICC in Jungmum. Starting at 1 p.m on April 7 will be an exhibition where visitors can learn about the unique cultures in all three cities as well as a flea market where visitors can expect to pick up some cultural goods from Jeju. From 7 p.m the opening ceremony will start which will include acts from all three cities under the theme of ‘Opening, understanding and expansion’.
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