“Damyang-gun makes a successful completion of the Dambit Cultural District, which started construction with the aim of creating a luxury eco-friendly residential complex,” said Choi Hyung-sik, governor of Damyang-gun.
In an interview with The Korea Post media, owner and publisher of three English and two Korean-language news media publications since 1985, Gov. Choi said, “During my tenure since 2002, I made many achievements. In particular, the completion of the sale of industrial land in the eco-high-tech industrial complex, and the end of the legal dispute in Meta Provence, France-inspired tourist village with colorful buildings & art installations, plus shops & eateries in Damyang-gun, are very impressive.”
The followings are main contents of the Korea Post interview with Choi Hyung-sik, governor of Damyang-gun.
Question: What is the secret to being chosen by the county residents four times from the 3rd to the 7th popular elections?
A: I think it is the evaluation of the citizens of the county for implementing a consistent policy with a vision for the long-term development of Damyang rather than a policy conscious of votes.
Today, whenever someone gives a good evaluation of the eco-urbanization policy that has made Damyang development possible and my collective leadership, I say this.
Our citizens, who continued to choose Damyang after seeing the future of Damyang, made the Damyang it is today, and therefore our people are even greater than the policy of favoritism that stimulates public opinion.
In conclusion, it seems that the secret to being able to become a governor many times lies not with me, but with our citizens.
I will do my best for the rest of my tenure so that Damyang can be ahead of other local governments and become an attractive city with long-term experience in administration, professionalism, driving force, and passion for the future society.
Question: During your tenure, you have accomplished many long-awaited projects. Would you introduce some of them?
A: I can point out the successful completion of the Dambit Cultural District, which started construction with the aim of creating a luxury eco-friendly residential complex, the completion of the sale of industrial land in the eco-high-tech industrial complex, and the end of the legal dispute in Meta Provence.
In addition, as the construction of more than 6,000 households are progressing without any setbacks, including the Daedeok New Dream City development project, where apartment houses and country houses will be built, the development of housing sites in the Goseobochon district, and private cooperative houses and villas in Samdari, Damyang-eup, are progressing without any setbacks, the recovery of the population of 60,000 is expected.
“Daesup Clear Rice”, a regional representative brand, has won the grand prize in the top 10 high-quality rice brands in Jeollanam-do for two years in a row.
Since the establishment of the ‘Damyang Market Mall’, an on/offline platform to respond to the spread of online consumption culture, it has received a good response.
In addition, by securing 103.9 billion won in public offering projects such as the original downtown regeneration project incorporating culture, the urban regeneration new deal project, and the attraction of the National Korean Garden and Cultural Center, conditions are prepared for improving the culture and living infrastructure of regions where sustainable growth is possible.
However, there are more than 60 pending projects, public offerings, and major tasks of Damyang-gun that are being promoted.
I will do my best to finish the rest during my term, but it is unfortunate and disappointing that I will not be able to finish major pending projects such as urban regeneration and private investment attraction projects in Damyang-eup and Changpyeong-myeon due to time constraints.
Question: On what projects will you place the first priority to carry out for the rest of your tenure?
A: We are focusing on key private investment and public offering projects that will help Damyang’s power generation.
One of them is the installation of a cable car on Mt. Chuwol. It is a project that attracts private capital on donations to Damyang-gun, and all expenses such as new construction, demolition, and restoration required for the cable car project are borne by the operator.
When the cable car is fully operational, it is expected that 490,000 people will use it annually.
Through this, the effect of creating 546 jobs and an economic ripple effect of 105 billion won is expected.
For the cable car, the design of Geumseongsanseong Fortress will be introduced and it will have the characteristics of Damyang.
At the same time, we will focus our efforts on making the cable car a welfare-type cable car that is a great tourist resource and helps people with transportation disabilities to feel the scenery of Mt. Chuwol.
In addition, the National Korean Garden and Cultural Center, which has been confirmed to be hosted in Damyang, a special district for humanities education and traditional gardens, can be cited.
The National Korean Garden and Cultural Center, which will be built on a 7 hectare site within Geumseong-ri Bamboo Ecological Park in Geumseong-myeon, will attract investment of a total of 19.6 billion won, including 13.6 billion won from the government, 2.4 billion won from the provincial government, and 3.6 billion won from the province, to complete the land purchase and design by next year.
A garden research building, training room, greenhouse, training center, and exhibition garden will be created to perform functions such as industrialization of the garden and training of professional manpower.
The National Garden and Cultural Center will be designed properly so that it can lead the integrated management of gardens, industrial development, and globalization of Korean gardens.
During the remaining one year period, we will strive to promote public projects such as attracting major private investment and urban regeneration, and promoting pending projects that will be reflected in the Gwangju Metropolitan Urban Plan and the 4th National Land Plan.
In particular, we will focus on strengthening universal welfare projects to overcome a crisis that may come again, practicing active administration to expand the rights of citizens, and embodying a Damyang-style Green New Deal policy that proactively responds to the post-corona era.
Question: What is the economic recovery plan after COVID-19?
A: What we felt while experiencing COVID-19 helped us understand that basic elements such as life, ecology, safety and welfare, and health are important for human life.
Therefore, I will try to lead the post-corona era by combining the Green New Deal policy with the eco-city policy that has been continuously promoted since my tenure in office.
I think it is necessary to develop and maintain policies for the future, taking the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity, such as strengthening virus-free quarantine and environmental policies, and strengthening eco-friendly livestock production and online distribution systems such as Damyang market.
The fact that many tourists visited outdoor tourist spots such as Juknokwon, Gwanbangjerim, and Yongmaru-gil, even in the midst of this corona situation, can be seen as an opportunity to reconfirm the image of clean Damyang.
In the agricultural field, we will further strengthen the sanitary livestock and sanitary agriculture, which we have been focusing on, so that we can safely eat Damyang livestock products, and strengthen the non-face-to-face distribution system centered on the Damyang Market Mall to create a platform that can encompass both domestic and overseas.
In the future, the tourism sector will move away from the tourism policy centered on large-scale festivals and events, and will create a relaxed tourism environment by expanding eco-tourism resources and cultural and artistic spaces centering on the ‘emotional tourism policy’ and making the entire county into a tourist destination.
Through this, the effect of creating 546 jobs and an economic ripple effect of 105 billion won is expected.
Question: We live in an era of rapid change. Please tell us about the future direction of the regional development of Damyang-gun.
A: Due to the COVID-19 situation that started last year, not only the citizens of our province, but also many people around the world are suffering and persevering.
Unexpected situations such as the emergence of a dreadful virus that were not thought of only a few years ago will occur frequently in the future.
In modern society, where things are urgent and busy, I think we should find a way to go backwards.
In the end, I think the answer lies in the eco-city policy that has been consistently promoted for nearly 20 years, such as a safe and environmentally clean residential environment from viruses, an ecological environment, and safe food.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, Damyang has rather increased its local brand value.
The brand value of agricultural and livestock products in the clean Damyang area has risen since COVID-19, thanks to the consistent implementation of the sanitary agricultural and livestock policy for consumers to eat with confidence.
In response to the spread of online consumption culture due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Damyang Market Mall, which is currently open and operated, enables not only domestic sales but also overseas markets to be developed, thereby increasing added value by manufacturing locally produced agricultural products as processed foods and increasing local value. It created an opportunity to increase the real income of the residents.
In addition, due to Damyang's image of being environmentally clean, people visited outdoor attractions such as Juknokwon, Gwanbangjerim, and Yongmaru-gil even after COVID-19. Damyang is emerging as a more attractive city than other local areas.
If people realize that basic elements such as life, ecology, safety and welfare, and health are important for human life, and combine the Green New Deal policy with the eco-city policy that has been continuously promoted since my tenure in office, I believe that Damyang has a bright future.
Question: With less than a year left before the 8th local elections in 2022, who would you like to be elected as the next governor?
A: It is my wish that a person who can work hard for Damyang's development and present a long-term future vision for Damyang, rather than a policy that suits only the taste of the voters, will take over the province’s administration.
The value of Damyang unique to Damyang and the local brand were not created in an instant. It is a moment when the province collapses.
While maintaining the sustainable eco-city philosophy and values, we hope that the next governor will work hard for the future of Damyang such as eco-friendly agriculture, alternative education, humanities and garden city, culture and art, and start-ups and venture industries.
In particular, I attracted an apartment because of the realistic inevitability, but I don't think that's the answer.
Today's Damyang has come to an era when it is possible to maintain an adequate population even with low-rise mansion-type apartments, townhouses, and double-story garden houses and single-family houses, even if it is not a high-rise apartment building.
If Damyang is filled with high-rise apartments, the value of Damyang will be lost, and people who have come to Damyang because they like the idyllic environment will leave Damyang, and the tourism industry, alternative education, humanities, garden city, and eco-friendly agriculture will lose their value.