By Feature Editor Kim Hyung-dae with Reporter Lee Sam-sun
The Cheonan City of the Chungcheongnam-do Province is preparing to upgrade itself from the center of Korea's history to the center of global Hallyu (Korean Wave) Culture.
The Cheonan City is preparing to take a big leap forward as a Hallyu Cultural Tourism City by hosting the '2023 K-Culture Expo,' which is expected to bring together Korea's outstanding cultural assets at the Independence Memorial Hall in Seoul.
The K-Culture Expo, the largest event of its kind in the Republic of Korea, will be held from August 11 to 15 to promote national pride in the Korean Wave and globalize related industries.
The concept of the K-Culture Expo is 'K-SPRIT'. K-Culture, which combines the spirit and culture of Korea, aims to showcase the past and present at a glance to increase pride in our culture and expand Korean culture to the world.
Cheonan City will present a differentiated Expo. While many local governments have held various events on the theme of K-Culture, most of them have centered on K-POP performances.
However, the K-Culture Expo which Cheonan City is preparing is expected to be a differentiated Expo that introduces the Korean Wave Hallyu Culture, which is imbued with the ethnic cultural spirit, K-soul, rather than the existing K-POP-oriented performances and festivals.
Mayor Park Sang-don of Cheonan City took office in April 2020, and while doing his best to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through active administrative responses, he also began excavating Cheonan's unique history and traditions under the motto of "Cheonan, a high-quality cultural city.”
Cheonan is also home to independence leaders such as Yoo Kwan-soon and Lee Dong-nyeong, and the Independence Hall, the holy site of Korea's only ethnic group, wherefore there are ample conditions for establishing a national cultural identity and developing Korea's unique charm, diverse cultural heritage, and historical and cultural contents.
Cheonan City and the Independence Hall signed an MOU on September 1 last year to successfully host the K-Culture Expo.
Therefore, the city has been making efforts to build a unique cultural infrastructure centered on the Independence Hall, and is realizing the fruits of its efforts through successful hosting of the Cheonan K-Culture Expo.
Cheonan City has been explaining the project to the Ministry of National Veterans Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, the Chungcheongnam-do Province, Independence Fighter Kim Koo Memorial Projects Association, and the National Youth Training Center in order to smoothly proceed with the regularization of the cultural expo at the Independence Hall, and continues to cooperate to secure government funding and promote the project.
In addition, Cheonan City and the Independence Hall signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Sept. 1, 2022, in order to form a consensus with the Independence Hall rather than a unilateral idea of Cheonan City alone. The two organizations interact as partners for the success of the K-Culture Expo, actively cooperate to promote the K-Culture Expo, and continue practical discussions such as the formation and operation of the K-Culture Expo Steering Committee.
From April to November 2022, Cheonan City completed the 'Basic Plan for the 2026 K-Culture World Expo and Feasibility Study' and the 'Basic Plan for the 2023 Cheonan K-Culture Expo'.
In addition, through the '2023 Cheonan K-Culture Expo Implementation Plan' earlier this year, the organizers have finalized the overall Expo ground construction plan and major programs and are accelerating preparations for the operation of the Expo.
On the theme of “Beyond Korea to the World 2023” the Cheonan K-Culture Expo is expected to encompass the history and future of the K-Culture at the Independence Hall, which symbolizes Korea's national spirit and culture.
The Cheonan K-Culture World Expo Basic Plan and Feasibility Study Final Report of the Cheonan City have additional details of information on the major events.
The Expo is expected to showcase the popular K-pop and dance, K-movie and drama, K-webtoon, K-lifestyle (fashion, beauty, and goods), and K-food in connection with the development of the K-contents industry, which are being selected as a national task by the government.
Cheonan City plans to promote a world Expo in 2026 that encompasses a variety of K-cultures classified by the Korea International Cultural Exchange Agency (Hallyu White Paper) and the Special Classification System of the Content Industry Statistics Survey, including K-games, K-sports, and K-healing and tourism.
As for core contents, starting with the opening ceremony, K-culture-themed performances and celebrations will be held, and an ICT drone fireworks show will be held to showcase digital convergence. There will also be a Hanbok Traditional Korean Costume Show showcasing K-heritage, an OST concert, and a K-POP cover dance contest.
In addition, as K-POP plays an important role in promoting Korea's cultural heritage and industry to the world and has a great impact on global cultural exchanges, a large-scale concert with intellectual property rights (IP) will be arranged to heat up the K-Culture Expo grounds.
In addition, the Expo organizers are also planning programs to showcase Korea's technology as an IT powerhouse through the K-Culture Theme Pavilion and to communicate about the future prospects and challenges of K-Culture through industry for K-Culture.
In a related program, the Independence Hall is promoting an exhibition of independent cultures of a total of 74 different countries of the world to study the ethno-cultural features of independent countries and share their living cultures with the cooperation of 74 different countries around the world, recalling the meaning of the place called Independence Hall.
For the Culture City Festival, which is linked to the Culture City Project, an independent art festival is planned at the Seogok Camping Ground in the Independence Hall under the theme of 'K-Culture' to provide a place for communication and development of local art organizations, and various indie performances were held.
Mayor Park Sang-don of Cheonan City said, "I completely agree with the idea of a country with the power of high culture, not an economic powerhouse, as suggested by the famed Korean Independence Fighter Kim Koo."
He emphasized, "An economic powerhouse is important, but a country rich in culture is important, so we will nurture Cheonan's unique culture by taking full advantage of the geopolitical advantages outside the metropolitan area."
General information on Cheonan City:
According to Wikipedia and various other reference materials concerning = Cheonan is the largest and most densely populated city of the Chungcheongnam-do province, the third largest city in the Hoseo region of Korea after Daejeon and Cheongju.
Cheonan borders on Gyeonggi-do (Pyeongtaek and Anseong) in the north, Chungcheongbuk-do (Jincheon-gun and Cheongju) to the east and southeast, Sejong City to the south and Asan-si and Gongju-si to the west and southwest.
Cheonan has been called "the core city of the Korean nation" due to its location 83.6 km south of the national capital, Seoul, in the northeast corner of South Chungcheong, serving as a transportation hub to the Seoul Capital Area and surrounding regions.
Cheonan is connected to various freeways and railways including the National Highways 1 and 21, the Expressways 1-Gyeongbu and 25-Honam, and the city's Korail station serves the Gyeongbu Line and the Janghang Line, with services of the KTX. Cheonan is one of the furthest places from Seoul connected to the Seoul Subway Line 1.
Cheonan has always been a major transportation hub of Korea because of its proximity to Seoul and its location near a gap in the eastern mountain range (Charyeong Range) that allows passage through to the major southeast centers of Daegu and Busan.
Cheonan's Samgeori (meaning “3-way intersection”) park has been noted as a strategic point of transportation and a place where culture has spread for a long time. It is the place where Samnamdaero, which starts in Seoul, parts, leading one branch of the road through to the south-eastern Yeongnam region (which includes Gimcheon, Daegu, Gyeongju and Dongnae), and leading the other through Gongju and Nonsan to the Honam region (which includes Jeonju, Gwangju, Suncheon, and Yeosu).
Due to its strategic location, Cheonan has also been an important postal center where early communications from the south converged before heading to Seoul, or where messages from the capital diverged into the southern regions. More formal and structured mail services later emerged with the construction of the city's first postal outlets, and the entire history of mail service in Cheonan (and in South Korea in general since 1883) is now on display in the country's largest postal museum in Yang-ji-mal in eastern Cheonan.
Cheonan was a relatively small town for much of the early half of the 20th century. As a transportation center, it was the site of an early engagement in the Korean War, the Battle of Cheonan. Then, in 1963 three municipal districts in the area that were growing in size were merged and promoted to the category of si, meaning city, by order of Law No 1176.
Thus the City of Cheonan was born, comprising the population of Cheonan-gun, Cheonan-eup and Hwanseong-myeon. Over the next two decades, the city grew in size by incorporating neighboring populations, including that of Byeongcheon-myeon in 1973. In 1975 the city renamed 10 branch offices to 10 dongs, representing the major administrative regions of the city.
The city continued to expand, absorbing neighboring ri, myeon, and eup, including Pungse-myeon and Guryong-ri in the early 1980s. Throughout this time, new neighborhoods to the southwest that were collectively known as Cheonan-gun, such as Ssangbong-dong, also grew in population, and in 1995 Cheonan-gun and Cheonan-si were merged into one large Cheonan-si.
Cheonan has a humid continental climate, but can be considered a borderline humid subtropical climate using the −3 °C (27 °F) isotherm. The climate is similar to that of neighboring Seoul, Suwon, or Daejeon, and is considered temperate Eastern margin with periods of monsoon. Cheonan experiences a four-season weather cycle, with moderately high summer temperatures and moderately low temperatures and snowfall in winter.