|▲ During the Culture Summit, the Jeju Culture and Arts Center was decorated with repurposed tangerine baskets. Photo courtesy Park Seung-kyu
The 2nd UCLG Culture Summit was held from May 10 till 14 at Jeju Culture and Arts Center, Jeju City.
Jeju Culture and Arts Center is an exhibition and conference hall located in the center of Jeju City. As the hub of culture in Jeju city, it was the perfect location for the discussions taking place at the event.
In a way of showing how traditional culture can be kept relevant in the modern world, the hall itself was decorated with the traditional baskets that used to be used by tangerine farmers on Jeju. These baskets had been turned into pieces of art by Jeju based artist Kim Ki-dae.
Over the course of three days, various issues were discussed relating to culture’s role in sustainable cities.
Over 500 participants gathered from cities all across the world including Washington DC, Seoul, Lisbon, Montevideo, Makati, Malmö, and more. These people came from a diverse range of backgrounds including local governments, international organizations, national authorities, NGOs, art, and academia.
The festival opened with a message from Jeju governor Won Hee-ryong, who is also the President of the Asia-Pacific section of UCLG (UCLG-ASPAC). During his speech, he stated the importance of culture in bringing together meaningful change.
On the same day, keynote speaker Dr. Karima Bennoune, who is the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights of the United Nations, spoke about cultural rights in the age of globalization.
This was followed by a speech from Korean poet Ko Un who spoke about the importance of culture in contemporary societies.
Day two saw discussion held on the place of culture in the Sustainable Development Goals included in the UN report “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and the “New Urban Agenda.”
Other sessions showed evidence of how culture contributes to local and global sustainable development.
Evidence shown included the importance of public spaces to foster access to culture for everyone, the role of tangible and intangible heritage in community cohesion and urban sustainability, how cultural organizations and cities can contribute to addressing the impacts of climate change, and more.
The final day of the Culture Summit saw a very special speech from UCLG President Mpho Parks Tau, who stressed the importance of “people-centred cities that allow residents to co-create the city they want.”
Jeju governor Won Hee-ryong also spoke once again, this time he spoke about how Jeju manages to combine both traditional and contemporary culture to become a city that he hopes other cities around the world will be able to draw inspiration from.
At the end of the Culture Summit, the UCLG strengthened its commitment to advocate for culture to have a stronger role in sustainable development agendas. It did this by setting out the following five steps to be followed in the future.
These steps are: “fostering policy innovation and peer-learning on culture and local sustainable development; recognizing excellent experiences and contributions to culture in sustainable cities; advocating for the place of culture in global agendas; enhancing cross-sectoral networking on culture and sustainable development; and strengthening global debates and partnerships.”
The Jeju Weekly also ran a session titled “Dolkorom Talk” which discussed how new residents to Korea can best fit into society. The talk most notably discussed the differences between assimilation vs integration.
This main guest of this talk was Professor Yiombi Thona. Yiombi is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and as someone who initially came to Korea as a refugee and now has a family here, he has an interesting and unique point of view on the matter.
Following the finish of the official activities, participants in the forum had the chance to take part in cultural activities on Jeju.
As a UCLG member city, Jeju has no shortage of places that are putting culture at the center of development. The main part of the cultural activities was a tour of Jeju’s “Wondoshim”, or old town.
The Wondoshim is an interesting place culturally because not only is it a historically important part of Jeju, but it is also putting art and culture at the center of its development as seen in the opening of various art spaces These spaces not only try to give local residents access to culture, but also hope to bring economic prosperity to a more forgotten area of the city.
The old town tour finished with a visit to Dongmun Market, a traditional market on the edge of the Wondoshim. Dongmun Market was once the center of commerce in Jeju city and has real cultural importance.
It sells everything from fresh produce to clothes and even souvenirs of Jeju. It is also part of Olle course number 17.
In the end, the Culture Summit managed to combine some diverse and fruitful discussions while allowing visitors to experience both the traditional and the contemporary aspects of Jeju culture.