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Busan Grand Park slated to open in the first half of 2014Offering a new recreational green space

A 530,799-square-meter city urban park, a landmark project of Busan municipality, is scheduled to open before the end of the first half of 2014 at the latest after three years of construction works.

It was in August 2011 that ground was broken for the construction of the Busan Grand Park located at the former US military base "Camp Hialeah" at a total cost of 121.3 billion won.

Camp Hialeah was the site of a Japanese military camp during its colonial rule of Korea (1910-1945). The U.S. Army moved in and vacated the site in 2006.

Busan is growing day by day as a pivotal economic hub in Northeast Asia, an important center for the film and visual culture industries, and a leading marine logistics and financial center.

The opening of the new urban park comes when Busan evolves into one of the ‘Top 10 metropolitan areas in the world.’

An aerial photograph of the Busan Citizens’ Park

"The Busan urban park is part of our projects to make the city stronger in terms of its economy, culture, welfare and environment, by completing world-class infrastructure projects and by continuing to grow in a sustainable way" said Mayor Hur Nam-sik pointing out that Busan plays the leading role in the Southern region of the Korean peninsula as an international gateway connecting the Pacific Rim and the Eurasian land mass.

Mayor Hur then expressed his hope that Busan urban park will eventually play the role like the Central Park of New York City which has been a National Historic Landmark since 1962.

"I’m quite confident that Busan urban park will eventually emerge as one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Korea," said Mayor Hur of Busan, a bustling city of approximately 3.6 million residents located on the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula.

The natural environment of Busan is a perfect example of harmony between mountains, rivers and sea. Its geography includes a coastline with superb beaches and scenic cliffs, mountains which provide excellent hiking and extraordinary views, and hot springs scattered throughout the city. Busan enjoys four distinct seasons and a temperate climate that never gets too hot or too cold.

Busan is the second largest city in Korea. Its deep harbor and gentle tides have allowed it to grow into the largest container handling port in the country and the fifth largest in the world. The city's natural endowments and rich history have resulted in Busan's increasing reputation as a world class city of tourism and culture, and it is also becoming renowned as an international convention destination.

It was in 2006 that the South Korea and the United States reached a deal on the return of a U.S. base in Busan popularly known as Hialeah to Korea under an agreement between Seoul and Washington to return most U.S. military bases and installations to South Korea and instead build a few hub bases south of the Han River.

The Hialeah return had been stalled, however, because of differences over who would pay for the environmental cleanup of the base vacated.

Mayor Hur Nam-sik of Busan Metropolitan City

Until recently, environmental issues related to USFK activities, big or small, have been regarded as sensitive ones in Busan areas.

The issues got bigger than mere environmental issues to affect the sentiment of the Korean people and have an adverse impact on the image of USFK itself.

Thanks to an agreement made between the Ministry of Environment and USFK, the military base, which had been shut off for years, was widely open to resume the historic environmental survey for its return to the citizens of Busan to pave the way for construction of the city center park.

Camp Hialeah, which means 'beautiful grassland' in the American Indian language, will shortly be reborn as an ecologically beautiful and environmentally healthy park just like its Indian meaning signifies and be returned to Busan citizens.

Diverse trees and flowers in Camp Hialeah, which have grown thick over the past 60 years, signify the mature ROK-US relations, and the greener and cleaner Camp Hialeah grows, the more blooming the ROK-USFK relations.

While countries of the world are pursuing green race to overcome climate change and the resources crisis and to lead green growth, US President Obama has announced "Green New Deal" package for "Green Revolution," which is exactly in the same line with "Low Carbon, Green Growth" strategy, recently launched by the Korean government to help Korea leapfrog into a low-carbon society.

For the first time in Korea, the Busan Grand Park has introduced the application of a new framework of ubiquitous augmented reality (AR) technology to a construction site where high mobility, free from occlusion, good accuracy, and expendability into large scale applications play a key role in meeting the practical requirements.

Ubiquitous system is intended to enhance accessibility to the distributed networks that provide a gateway between a physical construction site and the digital information of AR.

James Corner, an internationally well-known landscape architect and theorist with numerous works to his credit which explore the contemporary meaning of architectural landscaping, with a focus on "developing innovative approaches toward landscape,” has been involved in the architectural design of the Busan Park.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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