As the ‘Literature Promotion Act’ was enacted late last year, the government is empowered to establish the National Korean Literature Museum. And a number of local autonomous governments, including the Eunpyeong-gu Office, are competing to attract the literature museum, arguing appropriateness of their respective regions. The Act stipulates to build the Museum in a land space of approximately 45,000 square meters with a construction budget of 46 billion won (approx. $40 million). The Korea Post interviewed Mayor Kim Wu-yeong of Eunpyeong-gu to hear the local government’s plan and activities for attracting the Museum. ?Ed.
Question: Would you outline your plan and activities for attracting the National Korean Literature Museum to your district?
Answer: Having established the comprehensive plan for attracting the National Korean Literature Museum in January 2016, the Eunpyeong-gu government organized a task force on February 17 and is carrying forward a variety of public relations programs, such as performance of the music drama based on poems of Poet Yun Dong-ju, visit to Literature Gallery of Poet Jeong Ji-yong, distribution of public relations materials and press tour for attracting the Museum. And after launching the Committee for Attracting the National Korean Literature Museum on April 1, the Committee is conducting varied campaigns such as signature-seeking campaign for public support of attracting the Museum and a rally.
In addition, the local government plans to carry forward projects of building related institutions and facilities such as a thatched cottage and monument of Poet Jeong Ji-yong, Museum of Northeast Asian History, a village of literary persons and virtuosos, literature gallery of Writer Lee Ho-cheol and Eunpyeong Literature Museum, and a multi-culture museum. And the regional community is hosting diversified cultural and literary programs and activities, including a talk show with Writer Lee Ho-cheol, exhibition of works of literary persons in the Eunpyeong-gu, the ‘corner of writers and poets in Eunpyeong-gu’ at the Public Library, and performance of the music drama based on poems of Poet Yun Dong-ju.
Q: Why do you think Eunpyeong-gu is the most appropriate location for the Museum?
A: As the home of modern literature where more than 100 representative writers and poets including Lee Ho-cheol and Choi In-sun are living, and the gateway to unification of the nation, the Eunpyeong-gu, I believe, has geographical and geopolitical significance with its ideal location. Its location has a sufficient value as the center of literature of unified Korea that combines literature of North and South Korea divided by different ideologies.
I also believe that the Eunpyeong-gu will position itself as the Mecca of Korean literature when all of these projected institutions and facilities are established. The region provides excellent accessibility as it can be reached within one hour by public transportations such as buses and subways from Seoul and the metropolitan area as well as convenient road networks. Therefore, I am confident that the Eunpyeong-gu is the most ideal location for the National Korean Literature Museum with such advantages as the home of modern literature, center of unification literature, Mecca of Korean literature and easy accessibility.
Q: The Eunpyeong-gu is known as the origin of modern Korean literature that produced numerous prominent writers and poets. Please elaborate on aspects.
A: As described in recent news on the exhibition of Korean literature in the region reported by major TV channels and newspapers, numerous renowned writers, poets and other literary persons, including Jeong Ji-yong, Yun Dong-ju, Lee Ho-cheol, Choi In-hun and Jo Jeong-rae, are living in the Eunpyeong-gu and many of them conducted creative activities depicting Eunpyeong region. As it is the home and cradle of modern Korean literature like this, the Eunpyeong-gu deserves the site of the National Korean Literature Museum. And it is undoubtedly necessary to locate the Museum here for development of Korean literature from the historical standpoint.
Q: With legislation of the ‘Literature Promotion Act’, reports said that the National Korean Literature Museum will play the role of the Mecca for advancement of Korean modern literature and for developing and providing Korean wave cultural contents as a state facility under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Please make additional comments on this.
A: According to concept and outline suggested by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the National Korean Literature Museum is a larchiveum that integrates a literature gallery, archive, library and museum. And it is designed to establish the system of managing 84 literature galleries located across the country and building data base based on documents and data they have. In order to successfully establish these systems and satisfactorily serve as literature-based center of Korean wave for foreign tourists and literary persons, the projected Museum should be located in Seoul, which is the hub of transportation, cultural systems and literary galleries. In Seoul, the Eunpyeong-gu is especially ideal for the Museum as it plans to build a variety of literary facilities in connection with the Museum.
Q: The Eunpyeong-gu is renowned with the so-called ‘Journalists Village’ where hundreds of journalists moved in several decades ago. It is a unique area where people with a single profession are living. We expect these journalists and writers will act as mediators between literary communities in South and North Korea after unification.
A: Right. In early 1970s, the Korean Journalists Association developed a residence area designated for journalists, and some 420 families of journalists moved in the area. Later many of these journalists turned into writers, poets, essayists and other literary persons. With its unique feature and tradition, the Village should be preserved as a valuable intangible asset. In this vein, it will be meaningful to establish the literature museum in this region to preserve historical value of these journalists and journalist-turned writers and poets.
Q: Currently, accessibility and transportation conditions of the Eunpyeong-gu are favorable. But do you have any plan to improve accessibility, leveraging geographical and locational advantages?
A: As I mentioned above, the Eunpyeong-gu provides outstanding accessibility as it can be reached within one hour from Seoul and metropolitan area using public transportation means (buses and subway), and from the Incheon International Airport in an hour by car via an express way. We plan to further improve transportation systems by adding shuttle and local buses around the subway station. And a subway line will be constructed by 2022 for convenience of visitors.
Q: Please introduce other projected facilities and programs in addition to those mentioned above.
A: Having been designated as a Korean culture experiencing district by the Small and Medium Business Administration in April 2015, the municipal government is carrying forward a dozen projects and programs, including renovation of a Korean traditional house village, a facility for Buddhist temple stay, history museum of Korean traditional houses, and the Mt. Bukhansan Festival. And we are also working on a village of literary persons and virtuosos, Korean classical literature translation institute, and a Christianity museum, which are expected to serve as supplements for the Museum.