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Suwon becomes role model for local governments nationwide

Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, is often identified as a leading city in Korea, as it outmatches others across various aspects: environment, culture, economy and sports. Policies that the Suwon City Government has rolled out are often benchmarked by other cities, leading to the notion “If you see Suwon, you can see the future of Korea.”

Suwon has now grown into a global eco-friendly city of more than 1 million residents.

Suwon City Government building (Suwon City)
Suwon City Government building (Suwon City)

Suwon Theatre Festival

The 2018 Suwon Theatre Festival, held at the Gyeonggi Sangsang Campus from May 25-27, has gained explosive popularity. More than 150,000 people came to enjoy the festival, tripling the attendance of 2017.

Under the theme “Party in the Forest,” performances took place on 10 stages at Sangsang Campus, with its abundance of trees and grass. With no physical seating provided, families could watch as they sprawled out on the lawn.

The 2018 festival had more family visitors than in 2017. The festival offered various programs for children, such as virtual reality and augmented reality experience zones and puppet shows.

People poured in from the first day of the festival, and visitors packed the venues on the weekends. The last performance of the evening ended at around 11 p.m., but people lingered late into the night to enjoy the festive mood.

Suwon Theatre Festival offers a variety of performances for children and adults. (Suwon City)
Suwon Theatre Festival offers a variety of performances for children and adults. (Suwon City)

The festival showed 37 plays, including street theater, puppet shows, circus performances and musicals, with performers coming from Korea as well as other countries. Fringe theater with artists and students was also performed at the festival. 

Suwon Culture Night

Suwon Culture Night had drawn over 200,000 participants in 2017 in the year the program launched. It is one of the culture night programs run by Korea’s Cultural Heritage Administration, which allows locals to experience the nightlife of Suwon by walking around historic sites and cultural spots in the city.

Participants can experience eight portions of the program -- night view, night pictures, night road, night history, night stages, night snacks, night market and accommodations -- from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The night view let participants see various cultural assets at the city’s cultural facilities, such as the palace of Hwaseong Haenggung, Hwaryeongjeon, Suwon Traditional Culture Center and museums until 11 p.m. The city also features media art by lightening walls of Hwaseong Haenggung and facilities under the night picture.

Suwon Culture Night features various programs that visitors can enjoy into the night. (Suwon City)
Suwon Culture Night features various programs that visitors can enjoy into the night. (Suwon City)

Participants can take a ride on a traditional train, bicycle taxis and a helium-filled balloon to see the city’s nightscape, or walk around Hwaseong Haenggung with a cultural heritage commentator.

The night stages include a variety of performances at the Suwon Hwaseong fortress under the theme “History of Suwon.” The program also takes participants to alleys and markets where vendors sell snacks and food.

People can also take part in crafts experience at late-night markets and stay overnight at traditional hanok guesthouses located at the fortress.

Suwon Convention Center

A convention center with a total ground area of 97,620 square meters is set to open at Gwanggyo land development project zone in March. The city’s government plans to make the convention center into a meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions complex by building a department store, hotel and shopping mall inside the facility.

The city has set three strategies -- specialization, vitalization and “glocalization” -- to make the convention center a global platform that centers on people. 

Suwon Convention Center also features a department store, hotel and shopping mall. (Suwon City)
Suwon Convention Center also features a department store, hotel and shopping mall. (Suwon City)

Under the first strategy of specialization, the city will let professionals run the facility who have experience in planning, building and running convention centers before. Also, the city said it would create a database to manage the safety and energy system of the center.

The “glocalization” strategy -- a combination of “globalization” and “localization” -- aims to build a cooperative system between the center and organizations such as the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.

As part of the city’s efforts to become a Special Tourist Zone in Korea, Suwon will request the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism designate the city as an international conference complex in 2021. If selected, the city could receive financial support and various benefits from the government.

Global eco-friendly city

Following the Emission Trading Scheme the Korean government implemented in January 2015, 46 city governments and companies can emit a given amount of greenhouse gases every three years and trade allotments.

Between 2015 and 2017, Suwon contained greenhouse gas emissions from its six waste disposal facilities to 6.9 percent under its standards, amounting to 33,988 tons less in emissions.

The city government saved about 900 million won ($800,000) by reducing emissions. 

Friendship with cities all over world

Suwon and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, became friendship cities last month and promised to promote cultural and commercial ties between the two. Suwon Mayor Yeom Tae-young signed the contract with Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu on Feb. 16.

Suwon is now the fourth friendship city of Kaohsiung, following Japan’s Fukui and China’s Zhuhai and Hangzhou.

On Feb. 15, Mayor Yeom met Taiwan Secretary-General to the President Chen Chu and said Suwon hopes to share strategies to promote democracy, civil rights, eco-mobility, the environment and sustainable development.

The mayor and Suwon authorities also visited Hai Duong province in Vietnam from Feb. 17-19, in a bid to celebrate 15 years as sister cities.

Suwon has built relationships with 17 locations, including 13 sister cities and four friendship cities. 

Re-enacting March 1 Independence Movement

On March 1, 1919, hundreds of people shouted “Manse!” near Banghwasuryujeong, a pavilion in Paldal-gu, Suwon. The March 1 Independence Movement in Suwon involved people of every class, from the religious to teachers, students, farmers, merchants, laborers and courtesans.

The intense protest sparked the movement to spread throughout the country.

The historic movement was re-enacted in 2019 in Suwon once again, as the city’s government held a ceremonial event to mark its 100th anniversary.

The ceremony started with a march that began from Banghwasuryujeong and Suwon Station.

Some 2,300 people gathered at Banghwasuryujeong and read out the Korean Declaration of Independence at 1:20 p.m., shouting “Manse!” three times before marching to the main stage at Hwaseong Haenggung.

At Suwon Station, some 1,500 young people read the “Resolution of Suwon Boy Scouts.”

By Park Joung-kyu ( & Park Ju-young (