Since it was designated as one of members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in Crafts and Folk Art in 2010, Icheon City has been actively taking part in international activities and events of the Creative Cities Network. It participated in annual conferences and mayors’ meetings of Creative Cities, international forums, international meetings and other events of Creative Cities to publicize Icheon City and build foundation for exchange.
Building on these activities and efforts, Icheon City expanded international exchange regions from China and Japan to Americas and Europe. In 2013, it showcased and marketed ceramics at the AMOCA ceramics museum in the United States, and took part in the Maison & Objet, a prominent art fair being annually held in Paris, for three consecutive years from 2015 to 2017. It also joined the COLLECT 2018 exhibition held in London early this year.
A total of 8 cities including Icheon in Korea are listed as Creative Cities in 7 different fields, such as music, food, design, crafts and folk arts, literature, film and media art. After their designation, these cities have been exerting various efforts to establish their identity and transformation as creative cities. Among them, Icheon is incomparably enhancing its image and creating substantial outcomes in international exchange by capitalizing on the Network, thus further strengthening its status and role as a Creative City.
In 2016, Icheon hosted the first international workshop of Creative Cities in Crafts, contributing to expanding foundation for exchange among Creative Cities in this area, and it was elected as the vice chair-city in crafts segment at the annual meeting held in Oestersund, Sweden in the same year. Then in July 2017, a majority of member cities nominated Icheon as the next chair-city at the sub-network meeting of Creative Cities in Crafts held in Enghien-les-Bains, France. As a leading candidate for the next chair-city, Mayor Joh Byung-don of Icheon City presented tourism promotion strategy of the City at the annual meeting of Creative Cities in Crafts held in September 2017 in Paducah, the United States, winning favorable response from participants. Mayor Joh also donated two masterpieces of ceramics to Paducah City for its permanent preservation as a token of expanding exchange between the two cities.
In this vein, Icheon is very likely to be elected as the next chair-city among 37 member cities at the 12th annual meeting of Creative Cities Network set to be held in Krakow and Katovice, Poland later this year. With designation as the UNESCO Creative City in Crafts and Folk Art, Icheon is expanding its presence to the world, beyond Asia. Capitalizing on the Creative Cities Network, Icheon is actively apprising the world of not only its ceramics, crafts and folk art but also tourism policy and advanced technologies, including semiconductor.
Being a city of traditional ceramics, Icheon has constructed the Ye’s Park, the largest porcelain complex in the country in area of approximately 407,000 square meters, over the past 12 years since 2005 when it was designated as a special district of ceramics. As part of its strategy to enhance its reputation and competitiveness, the municipal government built the complex by investing a total of KRW79.7 billion (approx. $74.6 million). The complex is designed to accommodate 190 ceramics craft shops and 31 diverse craft shops, such as those of traditional furniture, sculpture, woodworks, paper, textile and lacquer. Of these shops, 111 facilities already opened and the rest will begin operation by the end of this year. The Ye’s Park is expected to contribute to widely publicizing advanced porcelain culture of Icheon as one of UNESCO Creative Cities and to globalizing its ceramics.
Marking its 32nd event, the Icheon Ceramics Festival will be held for 17 days from April 27 to May 13, 2018 at the Ye’s Park, moving from previous venue of the Seolbong Park. Simultaneously, the City government will host the inaugural Spring Flower Festival to provide diverse and colorful experiences and artistic performances. Programs of these festivals will include experience of crafting ceramics, hand painting, demonstration of crafting ceramics by artisans, rakuware-making experience, tour of ceramic kilns with an artisan, music, dance and folk art performances. The ceramics festival will also feature exhibition of award-winning ceramic works, and those of Korea-China Ceramics Joint Exhibition as well as an inter-local workshop. During the Children’s Day holidays between May 5 and 7, the festivals will provide various programs for children, including musical, children’s song concert, and costume play parade.
Aiming to become the top tourism city in the country with projected 10 million tourists a year, the municipal government has significantly improved and expanded for years a number of tourism attractions, including the Seohi Theme Park, Democratization Movement Memorial Park, an agriculture theme park and an art museum. As part of this strategy, it has developed over 100 experience-tour programs in rural life, foods, handicraft, and sports-leisure, while operating city tour buses. In this year, it extended city tour period by three times, and increased tour routes to 3 from 1 last year. And to generate new demand for tour, it will revitalize traditional festivals in connection with local indigenous products, such as rice, peaches, ceramic works, ginseng and cornus officinalis flower.