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Yangpyeong emerging as Korea's major eco-friendly Greentopia city


Mayor Kim Sun-kyo of Yangpyeong

Yangpyeong emerging as Korea's
major eco-friendly Greentopia city

Yangpyeong blessed with natural ecotourism resources is emerging as an environmentally friendly city dubbed as “Greentopia.”

Latest additions to the ecocity are pollution-free agriculture products, diverse cultural events and festivals.

More recently, Yangpyeong drew media spotlights both here and abroad when it successfully staged the 6th World Dj Festival at Yangpyeong Narukke Festival Park when K-Pop is on fast growth track worldwide.

Mayor Kim Sun-kyo of Yangpyeong is noted for noble ideas and aggressive traits for their implementation. He wants to realize: An environment-friendly bio city, Korea's first special agricultural district city, a farming village experience tourist city. a culture leisure-sports center city, and a bike travel city.

Yangpyeong is now getting media attention again with innovative cultural events and festivals under dynamic stewardship of city Mayor Kim Sun-kyo whose eventual target is to develop the city into truly an ecocity by the international standards.

While Seoul and its greater metropolitan area witnessed rapid industrialization and urbanization together with sharp economic growth, Yangpyeong, which is less than one hour driving distance from Seoul, remained undeveloped mainly because of restrictive government regulations and decrease of its population.

Under the restrictive regulations, for instance, major development projects of Yangpyeong were restricted in order to protect Paldang Lake in Yangpyeong from possible pollution, Paldang lake serves as a vital drinking water resource for more than ten million of Seoul citizens and metropolitan area.

Paldang Dam was dedicated in 1973 and Yangpyeong has since been restricted from undertaking development projects if not all.

Ironically, these restrictions have thus far made Yangpyeong as an eco-friendly city at sacrifice of its citizens in terms of economic gains.

To cope with the situation, Yangpyeong municipality took steps to reduce agricultural and stockbreeding wastes blamed for water pollution while stepping up all-out efforts to reduce use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

More farming households turned to grow pollution-free high value-added farming products to boost their household income under YEAM-21 (Yangpyeong Environmental Agriculture Movement) at the initiative of Mayor Kim.

“I believe that the 21st century is an age of environment, knowledge, information and culture and it is right time for us to redirect policy guidelines toward the sustainable and eco-friendly agriculture that pursue environmental conservation and food security,“ Mayor Kim stressed.

The population in Yangpyeong has increased by 17,000 over the past six years when other provincial cities witnessed minus population growth.

In recognition of his contribution toward the increase of the population and other impressive regional development efforts in Yangpyeong where Kim was born and educated from early childhood, Kim was awarded with the prestigious citation given by President during the World Population Day 2012 ceremonies held in Seoul.

Kim who is now in the second term as city mayor in a row expressed hope that the municipality’s target to make Yangpyeong with population of 170,000 plus by the year 2020 could be realized making it self-sufficient city.

To attract more people to Yangpyeong, efforts will be made to create more job opportunities, attract more investments for the improvement of infrastructure and other convenient facilities, he said.

Construction of a hospital designed to help rehabilitate traffic accident victims, Hanwha recreation complex, golf course and sports complex are among the projects in the pipeline to make Yangpyeong as eco-friendly city, he disclosed.

At the same time, the municipality also is making a strong push to rebrand the Yangpyeong as city of cultural events and festivals

Among the popular festivals of Yangpyeong areas include Yangpyeong Strawberry Festival being held annually in May each year throughout 13 farming towns in Yangpyeong .

There are hands-on events throughout the festival: picking strawberries, making soap with strawberries, traditional games, making ddeok (rice cake) with strawberries, and so on.

The Yangpyeong host a major Mountain Greens Festival which contains to gain popularity among foreigners as well as Koreans.

Yangpyeong strawberries raised in an environment-friendly way are known to be sweet and rich in vitamins.

Another popular event is Yangpyeong Sansuyu Festival being held annually in the Nae-ri and Jueum-ri of Yangpyeong.

They grow naturally a colony of sansuyu trees with the longest history in the nation.

Yangpyeong Sansuyu Festival” is being held every year when yellow flowers of the sansuyu trees are in full bloom in early spring

Tasting events of various foodstuffs and teas made with fruits and flowers, and Pure Yangpyeong Gaegun Korean Beef, a specialty of Gaegun-myeon are among the highlights of the festival which let visitors recall the tastes of their old hometowns.

In the meantime, Yangpyeong Kimchi-Making Festival is being held in November and December at farm villages in Yangpyeong during which visitors can have Kimchi-making experience, among others, along with other.

Namyangju Kimchi Festival is a good place to start for those looking to practice the art of kimjang. A wholesale kimchi market offers good deals on both ingredients and the final product. The festival is also known as a good place to taste hundreds of varieties of kimchi, whether from the official market stands or from your neighbor’s kimjang table.

Yangpyeong Kimjang Festival hosts different kimchi-making workshops, each of which is paired with another set of experiential activities. These include fun Korean traditional outdoor games like jegichagi, a kind of hockey sack, or workshops making injeolmi, a type of Korean rice cake made with sweet yellow bean powder.

Pointing out that Yangpyeong is undergoing a significant change toward an eco-city; Mayor Kim stressed that harmony of nature and people should be one of major corner stones for the eco-city underscoring the need for rich farming land that produces safe, eco-friendly agricultural products and the land should also be cultivated on a sustainable basis for high income for the hard-working farmers.

Mayor Kim then expressed concern about the fact that our society is aging rapidly, with a low birthrate yielding statistics rarely seen in advanced nations.

Korean society has become a so-called "aged society” this year only 13 years after its designation as an "aging society" in 2000.

He noted that in aging society, people aged 65 or older make up over 7 percent of the population, while in an aged society this number exceeds 14 percent.

Kim then pointed out that the rapid pace of Korea’s aging is due to its low birthrate, about 1.16 births per woman aged 15 to 49.

That is why Mayor Kim is taking the lead in working out the countermeasures in coordination with the central government and other authorities concerned against the low birthrate in Yangpyeong area.

“For this crucial matter, we will try to offer aid for childbirth or childcare, “he said.

In the meantime, Mayor Kim stressed the importance of tourism industries in creating job opportunities as well as household income in Yangpyeong areas blessed with rich natural tourism resources.,

Among the tourist attraction points in Yangpyeong include cycling trail by the Bukhan River to Yangpyeong, where people can enjoy the kindness of people, breathtaking sceneries and delightful dishes discovering the true meaning of life and happiness.

A large hospital specializing in the rehabilitation of patients of traffic accidents

Dumulmeori where the Bukhan- gang and Namhangang Rivers merge, is one the three major tourist attractions of Yangpyeong- gun along with a comprehensive arts space, at Yangpyeong Batanggol Arts Center and Korea's Natural Monument No. 30 the Ginkgo Tree of Yongmunsa Temple. A 400-year old Zelkova tree and the early morning's wet fog adds to the picturesque beauty of surrounding nature

The Yongmunsa Ginkgo Tree, which is growing in front of the Daeungjeon Hall of Yongmunsa Temple, is the largest and oldest ginkgo tree in the East.

It is estimated to be 1,100~1,500 years old and the height is about 62.21m with an approximate circumference of 11.2m, The tree is located at Sinjeom-ri, Yongmun-myeon.

An artist’s conception of a future-oriented city of Yangpyeong

Sonagi Village is a new concept literary park, which blends harmoniously with the novelist Hwang Sun-won's Memorial Literary Center and an experience field. The experience field consists of stepping stones and millet which grows thickly along both sides of the trails.
Against this backdrop, Special Zone for Environmentally Friendly Agriculture has been established in Yangpyeong.

The special zone is designated farming area with regulatory exemptions pursuant to the Environment-Friendly Agriculture Fosterage Act to overcome the regional limitations resulting from various regulations to protect Paldang Lake and to promote qualitative development of environmentally friendly agriculture which is gaining popularity among health-conscious people.

Sooner or later, Yangpyeong will emerge as the hub of organic agriculture products both for locals and foreigners, he observed.

In the meantime, Mayor Kim is praised by many for his successful cooperative relations achieved with the military authorities in the recent past years under which one of military training grounds belonging to the 20th Division of ROK Armed Forces located in Yangpyeong area could have been converted to a theme city park to offer resting place for residents.

An official dedication ceremony for opening of the theme park with a football playing ground plus a racing track is scheduled for Oct. 4, 2013 with a festive entertainment event to be joined by citizens and military personnel alike.

Up until recently, the military drilling ground was off limits for civilians causing inconvenience.

Kim took initiative to materialize the conversion of the military training ground into a theme park,

For the project, the municipality earmarked 1.3 billion won in budget for construction of the theme park with a football park combined with a racing track equipped with lighting fixtures.

“More citizens will have fun with friends and family here with a variety of fresh entertaining activities all year around,” Kim said.

As part of efforts to promote friendship between Korea and Germany, Yangpyeong municipality will sponsor the Korea-Germany Cultural Exchange Exhibition to be held from September 29 to October 7, 2013 at the Yangpyeong Community Art Gallery with the theme of “Change-Exchange.”

The cultural event will be participated in by 37 artists from the two countries including 20 German artists who belong to the Berlin Artists Association.

The event, the first of its kind to be held in Yangpyeong is expected to seek new forms of exchange and foster mutual understanding between Korea and Germany.

In the meantime, on the occasion of the Chuseok, the Korean version of Thanksgiving Day, which was on September 19 this year, Yangpyeong municipality donated 30 pieces of gifts to Yongmun District Office for use of less fortunate citizens in the areas.

The cultural event is part of the projects to inject fresh vigor into bilateral relations between Korea and Germany in broad spectrum of economic, cultural and people to people exchange areas under a memorandum of agreement (MoU) signed on September 25, 2013 between Yangpyeong municipality and the Association of Korean Miners and Nurses who once worked in Germany in 1960s.

Decades ago when the nation was very poor, approximately 8,000 South Koreans went to Germany to work as miners from 1963 to 1977, some returning to Korea after their contracts of two or three years ended. Others settled in Germany. Additionally, 11,000 South Korean nurses went to the European country from 1963 to 1976

MoU calls for construction of a German Town in Yangpyeong with theme parks, cultural facilities and agriculture-livestock industrial facilities to link the peoples of the two friendly countries.

For the project, Yangpyeong municipality has made available about 180,000 pyeong (one pyeong equals 3.3 square meter) of land lot and various projects now get underway.

The construction of the state-run hospital for use of traffic accident-related patients is now in good progress in Yangpyeong. Kim Han-young, chief of Transportation Policies Division of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport made an inspection tour of the hospital construction on September 1, 2013 and encouraged construction workers and engineers to do their best for successful dedication of the hospital on time.

This hospital, the first of its kind in the nation so far, is designed to help support traffic accident-related patients who are suffering from damage to spinal cords, brain injuries and musculoskeletal problems, to name just a few.

Also joined the inspection tour of the construction site with Kim included Kim Sun-kyo, Yangpyeong mayor and Chung Byung-hyun, senior director of Korea Transportation Safety Promotion Authority.

The state-run hospital will be constructed at a site located in Dogong-ri, Yangpyeong totaling 94,446 square meters. A total of 160.2 billion won is set aside for the construction of the sixth floor building with a total floor space of 45.506 square meters.

Ground-breaking for the structure was made in March this year for completion by June 2014.

When completed, a total of 304 beds will be made available for various traffic related patients. Catholic University’s medical school will be responsible for management of the hospital for five years.

In due course, the state-run hospital will be serving for the health of Yangpyeong citizens in other medical areas beyond the traffic accident-related patients after five years of operation under the management of Catholic University’s medical school.

Another new project adding new cultural and environmental attraction to Yangpyeong area is the construction of new complex housing where paintings and calligraphic works of late Chusa Kim Jeong-hi are on display. Late Kim is one of the most prominent and talented landscape painter during the late Joseon Dynasty.

Sehan Jeong will be completely renovated and reconstructed before the end of April 2014 and Semiwon, one of the well-known traditional Korean garden, will also be renovated.

Mayor Kim of Yangpyeong County is very active in various projects and programs of the County.

Semiwon is a distinctive aquatic park dedicated to water and aquatic plants which is located south of Seoul adjacent to Korean’s largest river the ‘Namhan.’ The garden is called Semiwon because of its large quantity of fresh water and abundance of flowers.

Semiwon is a water and flower garden that has the World Water Lily Center where beautiful water lilies bloom all year around. The center was built on an area of 1320㎡ and some 50 kinds of water lilies and 60 kinds of water plants are growing within the center.

The name Semiwon comes from an old proverb that says, “one will cleanse their mind by looking at water and the mind will become beautiful by looking at flowers.”

With the renovation project of the garden, visitors here and abroad will have experience of cleansing their minds and reach a peaceful state of mind.

To emphasize this thought, the main path around the pond is symbolically made of stones to represent a washboard which signifies,” cleanse your heart stomping on the washboard.”

Among other features of the garden are more than 50 varieties of hardy water lilies, with a total of 4,000 plants, 100 varieties of tropical water lilies and a total of 1,000 plants

Behind the main garden is the Environment Learning Center which educates visitors on how aquatic plants purify our environment

“Our target is to make Semiwon as one of the 100 Most Breathtaking Gardens in the World,” Mayor Kim said.

A bike lane along the scenic river in Yangpyeong

Needless to say, clean piped water has always been one of basic necessities for civilized modern society but contrary to what most urbanites think, a reliable supply of clean water isn't always available at the turn of the tap for many, even in a country with plenty of rain

However, the water woes for eight communities in Yangpyeong areas recently came to an end thanks to relief and development of the piped water system

The municipality has set aside a total of 3,240 million won to help support citizens at eight communities including Yongmun Jungwon 2 Ri, Sinjung 2 Ri, Jipyhong Okhyeon 1 Ri, and Goksu 1 Ri which did not receive piped water and had to depend on a clean source of water located far away.

With the installation of a new piping system linking the water source directly to the village, the villagers will no longer have to walk or hike for hours daily just to collect water for their everyday use.

The project will eventually see water piped directly into each household soon.

?ith the installation of new pipes, we intend to improve their lives by bringing the most basic of needs to the local community," said Mayor Kim adding that this project is not only environmentally friendly but is also a workable solution with limited budget.

"The key to success in executing these projects is to get the full involvement and commitment by the villagers themselves, he added. k

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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