Monday, May 14, 2018

Hot spaces that are creating the cultural trends in Suwon 'Spaces for archiving public arts'

Spaces that have been left deserted for a long period are evolving as the new cultural spaces in Suwon. At the land where the Agricultural college of the Seoul National University once stood, Gyeonggi Imaginary Campus has been built. The thick forest and natural environment that have been created naturally make this Imaginary campus as the space of culture and rest in harmony with cultural artworks and the nature. These spaces are the places to support cultural renaissance of Suwon as well as creation of artwork by artists, where the projects invigorating the towns are underway with artists, residents and NGOs. This article reports the feature of the secretive space that is creating the high quality cultural trend in Suwon.
Written by Kang  Il-seo, Yoon Seung-ki  Photo by Gyeonggi Imaginary Campus

GYEONGGI IMAGINARY CAMPUS, culturing imagination and fun
Into the land where Sangrok Campus (the Agricultural College) of the Seoul National University used to stand in Suwon, Gyeonggi Imaginary Campus came in. After the Agricultural college moved to Gwanak campus in 2003, the Sangrok campus has been sleeping for 12 years and 9 months. In order to utilize the building and the land that remain intact, the Gyeonggi Province and Gyeongg Cultural Foundation started its preparation since 2014. At last, the new campus opened in June 2016.
After remodeling, Agricultural & horticulture building was reborn as Gyeonggi Youth Culture Creation center and the Agricultural Engineering building was reborn as Imaginary Engineering building. These are used as the place to support the creative experiments and activities that create new jobs based on culture and art.
Various handicraft workshop, childrens' book playground, independent publishers' bookstore, bicycle culture salon have moved in here. Cultural hub cafe, living artwork handicraft workshop and art shop and youths' creation experimental laboratory are located here. The Dasara Culture Planning school has also opened to train young cultural planners. This space is also used as the spaces for sharing the culture with residents, such as exhibition center 'Sseulagi' showing old items, Hanul marketplace, resting place Yeoulmadang, etc.
In addition to the fixed facilities and spaces, there were many things to see at the open festival. The exhibition 'Alice in Wonderland' by Lewis Carol who is a British fairytale writer was most favored by children.
The exhibition staffs with make-up were cast in the roles of various scenes appearing in the 'Alice in Wonderland'. Various other interesting events such as various exhibitions, flea market, and street performances caught the eyes of Suwon citizens.
 At Gyeonggi Youth Culture Creation center, 8 youth teams in total moved in as a pilot project in 2016. The pilot projects include ‘40,000 kilometer team which is the startup for independent publishing and production' and 'bicycle culture salon team' that shows various cultural and creative activities with the bicycle as a medium. In addition to already opened spaces, agricultural craftwork room and upcycling center have been completed by remodeling in 2017. Further plans for the year end include open selection of youth group and presenting the business model where upcycling productions under the participation of local residents are put on sale.

‘Youth Culture Creation center’ for the business incubation and creative activities of the youth
At the Gyeonngi Youth Culture Creation center, also known as 'Youth 1981' , various promotion activities for youth culture are underway, including support of consulting and spaces, training young regional cultural planners and support to international exchange and networking gatherings, to promote youth's business incubation and creative activities based on culture and arts.
This place recruits occupants from the youth aged 39 or younger or organizations which pursue business incubation and creation based on culture & art or fusion and convergence industries. The Gyeonngi Youth Culture Creation center supports the young artists’ activity by providing admission to the handicraft workshop to be engaged in artworks in the workshop during a certain contract period.  
Any youth who seeks business incubation or creation based on culture & art or fusion and convergence industries is eligible for admission to the Gyeonggi Youth Culture Creation center. Therefore, this center is the space where artists in more diverse genres are granted the opportunity for creative activities. Any group moving into the Gyeonggi Youth Culture Creation center is entitled to various benefits, which more than anything else include making reservations for using various LAB rooms for such as carpentry, painting, drying, etc. 
These spaces allow the artists to minimize their work hours, and enable them to describe any idea they came up with immediately. Furthermore, artists can use the café as well as equipment (3D printer, laser cutter, etc.) at a low cost. In addition, this space provides further benefits to the artists and organizations as occupants to become the best space for creative activities. 
A peculiar terminology is used to describe the artists and the organizations that are occupants of this space. It is ‘groover’. Groover is the compound word of ‘grove’ meaning small forest with ‘groove’ meaning enjoyment as well as ‘er’. This is the identity commonly designating the members of the co-working space in the forest of Imaginary campus, containing the meaning of ‘the person who gathers together in the forest and enjoys together’.  The name ‘groover’ came to be used like this, to the effect that the artists and organizations in creative activities shall be allowed to enjoy and achieve their goals and challenges as much as they want in the forest.  We cheer them on so that the dreams of the cultural artists in Suwon would come true, like this name suggests. 

Gyeonggi Youth Culture Creation Center
This center proceeds with various promotion activities for youth culture, such as support of consulting and spaces, training young regional cultural planners who will cover the regional areas and support to international exchange and youth networking gatherings, to promote youth's business incubation and creation activities based on culture and arts.
Mon~Sat : 10AM~6PM *Sundays and holidays closed

Sonsali handicraft 
The Sonsali handicraft workshop located in the Gyeonggi Living Culture Center has been occupied by the handicraft team based on living culture, who seeks to grow together with the area with their talent of making by hand. Visitors can experience making hand-made products such as living carpentry, storybook, metal craft (accessories), natural soap, embroidery, etc., which are on sale as well.   
Mon~Sat : 10AM~6PM *Sundays and holidays closed

forêt forêt
The inner forest marketplace, forêt forêt is the crowded marketplace opening in the thick forest in Gyeonggi Imaginary Campus. The products created by the organizations occupying the Gyeonggi Imaginary Campus as well as living props of local residents can be traded here. In the wide lawn where adults can run and play with their children, fun and exciting programs are held every month. At forêt forêt, visitors can go shopping, watch performances or lie down to have a comfortable rest. 
Every last Saturday of each month between May~Sept.
Schedule is subject to change 

Gyeonggi Living Culture Center
This center operates various programs (lecture and workshop, residency at handicraft workshop etc.) to propagate the living culture to each age group and target group and provides autonomous learning space and cultural leisure space to local residents to realize its value as the ‘playground for everyone’. 
Mon~Sat : 10AM~6PM *Sundays and holidays closed

Gyeonggi Vivid Republic
This is the recycled space of the previous Agricultural college of Seoul National University, Agricultural Engineering building, dreaming of realizing new imagination through convergence, and the culture of recycling, new birth or coexistence. This is the place reborn using the realization of imagination through convergence of craftwork (textile, glass, porcelain) and design, humanities, literature and arts as well as the spatial and historical feature of the Agricultural college of Seoul National University. This is the complex cultural space as the multi-platform operating the programs for participation, cooperation, interchange and exhibitions. 
Tues~Sat : 10AM~6PM *Mon, Thanksgiving day and New year’s holidays closed (Inquiries: 070-4231-8800)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Powder pink snowflakes pour into your hearts 'Full-blown cherry blossoms'

Warm sunlight through the window signals the arrival of spring.
Soft pink petals fluttering in the air are already drifting upon the window.
Full-blown cherry blossoms are everywhere. Spring has already arrived into my heart.

Written by Kang Il-seo Photo by Kim Oh-neul, Courtesy of Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do

As I get older, the wind temperature and seasonal landscape seem to change every minute and time seems to go by so fast.
Colorful cherry blossoms are everywhere, signaling the early arrival of spring. The weather is getting warmer and the streets are filled with more and more people. 
Their faces are shining after the cold winter weather had them trapped indoors; their outfits clearly show winter has passed and spring is already here. Their faces light up as they see white petals falling on their heads and feet and then turn to their cameras to capture the scene. Looking at a mom taking pictures of her child with an awkward V gesture, I can’t help but smile. Spring is clearly in the air and I can feel it.
As for the cherry blossoms, many people will think of Japan, the Jinhae Naval Port Festival, or Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival. I’m one of the isitors to all these places. However, I am more drawn to cherry blossoms in nature that are untouched by the artificial.
Walking on the dirt path along the old castle, I get lost in the fragrance of cherry blossoms and the scenery along the road. There is nothing like looking at the beautiful petals falling on a wooden deck around a calm lake and with long stretch of cherry blossoms. They are in full bloom all around Suwon as if the city were embracing spring wholeheartedly. The scenery of the downtown lights in the evening and cherry blossom trees swaying in the wind will impress anyone walking around. After some drinking, I start humming the songs “Cherry Blossom Ending” or “Bom Bom Bom,” a song about spring and becoming lost in the scenery and natural fragrances.
The people walking amidst the cherry blossom trees all look familiar somehow. Just as all the cherry blossoms look similar to each other, all those people look familiar. People who are taking pictures of themselves with their smartphones, couples who are walking arm in arm together, and those who accidently get photographed by me are all smiling.
The people walking amidst the cherry blossom trees all look familiar somehow. Just as all the cherry blossoms look similar to each other, all those people look familiar. People who are taking pictures of themselves with their smartphones, couples who are walking arm in arm together, and those who accidently get photographed by me are all smiling.

Suwon Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-Do Provincial Office
Walking down the alley along the old castle with stonewalls, I see picturesque cherry blossoms in full bloom. The past and the present co-exist with a harmony of simplicity and complexity.

Gyeonggi-do Provincial Office 1, Maesanno 3-ga, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Suwon Hwaseong 190, Yeonmu-dong, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do

Hwangguk Jiecheon, Seoho
The stream is flowing under a colorful rainbow bridge and white petals are everywhere on the dirt road, like rice grains.
Walking on the soft dirt path, listening to the water and birds, I rest my eyes under the serene afternoon sunshine.

Hwangguk Jiecheon and Suwon Industrial Complex 1, Omokcheondong, Gwonseon-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Seoho Park area Hwaseo-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do

Gwanggyo Maru-gil
My painting portrays a flower path along the water deck, a perfect place to take a walk, like a bridal wreath dangling all around it. Another scenic view of spring includes Gwanggyosan at the end of the road with bikers racing alongside of it.

Gwanggyo Maru-gil and Gwanggyo Reservoir area
399-1, Hagwanggyo-dong, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do 160 (Hagwanggyo-dong), Gwanggyosan-ro, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The flow of time The standstill of space The story of a people Reconnecting them to culture

Popular music titled, “You are a street singer” was playing in a salon, It was a time when modern boys and girls would prance around Gyeongseong, meeting at coffee shops and cafes You can still see traces of Suwon’s modern times that could only be viewed in old movies. I am writing a story of the time and place that is inspired by faded red bricks. 

Suwon began to develop in earnest at the time of the completion of Suwon Station of the Gyeongbu line was completed (1903). Since then, based on Suwon Hwaseong, the center of administration, culture and economy, buildings began to be erected one by one while boasting of their appearance. While walking along Suwoncheon stream, embracing the quiet and still view of Hwaseong, the modern buildings seize the steps of people passing by.

100 years of history flow along Suwoncheon stream
First, when walking from Hwahongmun to Paldalmun along the Suwoncheon stream, you can find a small church called Dongsin Church, which consists of an old white building. Dongsin Church is the oldest church in Suwon, built in 1900, and it is the place where the tombstone of Norimatzu Masayaz, the first Japanese missionary, is positioned. 
As a Japanese, the priest Norimatzu Masayaz felt guilty about the death of Empress Myeongseong after the Eulmi Incident, and devoted himself to missionary activities by establishing Dongsin Church in Korea using the incident as a source of motivation. He desired to be buried in Korea before his death, so his follower buried his remains at the foot of present day Mt. Gwanggyosan after passing away in Odahara, Japan, while on furlough in 1921. However, as the Korean Veteran’s Hospital was later built here position, the tombstone was moved to the back side of the church. 
There is Jongno Church near Dongsin Church, and it was the first Protestant church in Suwon which was started from a community of believers in 1899. They established the Bosidong Church (Former name of the Suwon Jongno Church) at 116 Bosi-dong in 1901, and moved to the Suwon Jongno intersection after 6 years in 1907. This is the present look of the church. When building this church, the exterior was decorated by piling up red bricks while installing a large window, and decorating the window again with stained glass. 

In addition, there is the Samil School and Maehyang Girl’s School nearby the Suwoncheon stream just like with the Paichai and Ewha High Schools of Seoul, and they are positioned alongside a wall at the foot of Mt. Jungposan in Suwon. The Samil Institute is a school affiliated with the church which was started by the American missionary W. Swearer (Seo Won-bo) in 1903 by gathering 15 boys. They used the church building to teach classes in the beginning, however, the school opened in 1923 under the name of Adams Memorial Hall as the believers raised a construction fund of 20,000 yen. 
Overall the building was built with red bricks, and the roof was constructed by a galvanized iron sheet covering after placing a wooden truss on the wall, and laying thick boards over it. The basement was built by piling up roughly trimmed rocks, and the walls of the 1st and 2nd floor were built with red bricks. The floor was decorated by installing wood plates between floors. The porch and the interior of the 1st floor of Adams Memorial Hall were reinforced by installing iron pipes to support the columns, and it was designated as a cultural asset in 2001. 
Maehyang School was also started by the missionary Scranton of the America’s North Methodist Church in 1941. It seems that the school name Maehyang was decided on because it was located in Maehyang-ri. The willow trees standing in a row along both sides of Suwoncheon stream, which flows in front of the Samil School and the Maehyang School, create a great view while harmonizing the old and red buildings. 
Again, when walking along Suwoncheon stream towards the chicken alley, you will reach Suwonsa, one of the 3 mission centers together with Dongnamgaknu. Suwonsa is called one of the 3 mission centers together with Gakhwangsa (Present day Jogyesa), the first mission center in Korea, and the Gangneung Mission Center, and Dongnamgaknu Suwonsa was a symbol of modern Buddhist urban propagation. This temple, which was established as Suwon mission center of the Yongjusa Temple in 1912, propagated in the city during the Japanese colonial era. 
Its name was once changed to Hwagwangsa in 1957, and now it is called Suwonsa. Geuknakdaewonjeon, the main sanctuary of Suwonsa, was built when the temple was founded in 1912, and it still looks the same even after 100 years. There is a lion-shaped statue to the left of the Geuknakdaewonjeon’s stylobate, and a dragon-shaped one to the right. As Suwonsa played a role as the cradle of modern culture, as well as urban propagation, the exhibition of Na Hye-seok, the first female painter in Korea, was held here place, and it provides residents with a place to rest. 

Utilization of modern buildings after the Japanese colonial era
Upon entering the printing alley of the south gate after passing Suwoncheon and changing direction, Bugukwon can be found on the opposite side of Suwon Church. Bugukwon is a building that was constructed during the Japanese colonial era, and it was the head office of Bugukwon, the company that supplied nurseries, seeds and farm equipment for the first time in Korea. After independence, it was put to a variety of different uses including a prosecutor’s office, offices of the Republic Party, and a temporary office of the Suwon District Court and prosecutor’s office. It was even once used as a private hospital after 1980s. The present day Bugukwon building, which was a private property, was on the brink of demolition in 2015, but the City of Suwon purchased it, and it is scheduled to be designated as a registered cultural asset. 
While walking straight towards the Paldal-gu Health Center after passing Bugukwon, you can come across buildings of the Suwon Family and Women Center. Here you will see two buildings constructed of red brick and concrete, and they were established when the construction of government buildings was booming after the Korean War. The main building that was constructed with reinforced concrete looks quite dignified as the exterior was finished with stones, and we can recognize the influence of Modernism Architecture, which was popular back then, in the proportion of canopy of the entrance, and the module of the windows.
It was used as a city hall building until the time when the city office moved to the southern area of Suwon in 1980. Then, it was once used by the Gwonseon-gu office, and at present, the Suwon Family and Women Center is using this building. The red building adjacent to it was the government office building of the City of Suwon which was built as a 2-story brick structure. It is a building with a nearly completely square-type floor and hipped roof, and the roof is tiled with cement material. Especially, the head jamb of the 1st floor window was decorated with bud-shaped ornaments, and that of the 2nd floor window was decorated by rotating a horizontal string course on the upper and lower surfaces. The details of each and every corner of the building create an atmosphere of art deco. 

Walking along this street, you will reach the Provincial Government Office of Gyeongi-do. There is an old building as well, that is located here. The old building of the Provincial Governement of Gyeonggi-do, which was built in 1967, is a concrete building with a long history. It is still being used today along with a newer building, and it still provides us with classical grace and dignity due to the traces of times. It is also a representative work of Kim Hi-chun (deceased), one of the veteran architects of Korea representing the 21st century. With regard to the exterior of the building, the frame of the reinforced concrete structure is exposed, and the exterior wall is covered with glass windows. As there is a terrace on all four sides of each floor, the business area is directly connected to the outside spaces. It is a “ㅁ’-shaped building with a courtyard in the center. This type of building was popular in the southern area in the 1960s, and it has an open design created by considering ventilation and lighting. 
Upon arriving at Suwon Station, the gateway to Suwon, after passing the provincial government building, you can view the railroad cultural assets which show the history and culture of railways of modern times. On the way to the Sepyeong underground roadway in the direction of Osan, you can come across two water towers, which resemble chimneys, on the right-hand roadside. The two towers standing alongside it were the facilities for supplying water to steam locomotives in the platform using the difference in elevation, after pulling up the water to the water tanks of the tower using a steam pump fueled with coal, since there was no water supply system back then. The water towers had been used until a time when UN forces began to use diesel locomotives in the 1950s. The bigger cement water tower mostly supplied water to local trains, and the red one was used to supply water to trains with narrow gauges on the Suin and Suyeo lines. 

Finally, there is Korea Silk Museum where you can learn about the history of Korea’s sericulture. Sericulture in Korea has a long history of approximately 5,000 years. There are well-known places for sericulture in each region of the country, and in Suwon, the Sericulture Laboratory (Former sericulture and insect department of the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences) has been researching this field since 1917. The building of the Korea Silk Museum was the place for research on making silk threads using cocoons since 1935. It opened as a museum on June 29, 1999, and the interior was renovated for exhibition purposes, however, the roofs and external wall show the characteristics of the factory and testing laboratory at the time it was constructed. 
After looking around the modern buildings, I somehow feel that something is missing. There are buildings managed as cultural heritages, however, most of them belong to private owners, were demolished or deserted, and are awaiting a restoration opportunity. I think these architectural heritages remember the life of Suwon citizens, while keeping their places in solitude for more than 100 years. It can be anticipated that the broken and erased stories of modern history could be preserved and shared with more people. 

* Part of the scripts are the writer’s personal opinion, which were reconstituted based on the content of the Research on Gyeonggi-do’s Architecture (2012~2013),and architectural evaluations may be different. This opinion does not reflect the official position of the foundation.