The Korea Herald


Mayor Choi proclaims Sejong as 'Hangeul Culture Capital'

Setting sights on global capital model, he vows to nurture Sejong into a city of MICE, smart technology, garden and museum

By Shin Yong-bae

Published : June 17, 2024 - 16:40

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Sejong Mayor Choi Min-ho poses in front of a mural depicting a section of the Hunminjeongeum, the original Hangeul study guide, for an interview at his office on June 4. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald) Sejong Mayor Choi Min-ho poses in front of a mural depicting a section of the Hunminjeongeum, the original Hangeul study guide, for an interview at his office on June 4. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

SEJONG -- To commemorate his second year in office, Mayor Choi Min-ho of Sejong City shared his vision for transforming the government administrative city into a global standard capital model.

During an exclusive interview at his office early this month, Mayor Choi underscored Sejong's forthcoming identity as the "Hangeul Culture Capital" of the nation, highlighting a commitment to nurturing the legacy of King Sejong the Great within the city's development plans until his term concludes in 2026.

Reflecting on the city's namesake, King Sejong, renowned for inventing the Korean alphabet Hangeul in 1443, Mayor Choi articulated a fervor to elevate the Hangeul culture industry as a cornerstone of Sejong's growth trajectory. Central to this cultural revival are landmark initiatives like the Hangeul Culture Complex and Hangeul Street, envisioned to honor and preserve the profound heritage of the Korean script.

"Sejong City is poised to harness its historical eminence to emerge as a premier Hangeul tourism destination, aligning with the global surge of interest in Korean culture and language," Mayor Choi affirmed. Noteworthy, he highlighted the burgeoning significance of Korean language education worldwide, citing Korean as the 6th most learned language on Duolingo in 2023.

Underlining past accomplishments such as hosting the prestigious "Hangeul Day Government Celebration Ceremony," an event of presidential stature held outside of Seoul, Mayor Choi reiterated Sejong City's dedicated pursuit of promoting Hangeul culture on the national stage.

Looking ahead, Mayor Choi unveiled plans to infuse Hangeul into diverse facets of urban life, fostering an interactive milieu where residents can immerse themselves in the linguistic elegance and cultural legacy. "Through endeavors like the Children's Hangeul King Contest, festivities honoring King Sejong's birthday, and Korean language contests for international participants, Sejong City will solidify its reputation as a nucleus of Hangeul endeavors," he emphasized.

In a significant move, Mayor Choi shared intentions to forge collaborations with Korean communities globally, aiming to draw language enthusiasts to Sejong City and cultivate enriching cross-cultural dialogues.

On the horizon, the mayor disclosed his upcoming visit to Minnesota in the US on July 15 for an eight-day tenure, where he will engage with Concordia Language Village to proliferate and internationalize Korean culture, partake in the inauguration of Korean Village, and celebrate the inaugural ceremony.

Mayor Choi's dedication to elevating Sejong City as the epicenter of Hangeul culture and fostering global partnerships underscores the city's ambition to transcend boundaries and carve out a distinctive identity on the world stage.

Mayor Choi is calling on the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the presidential office to support the relocation of the King Sejong Institute and other Hangeul-related institutions from Seoul to Sejong or establish their regional offices in Sejong.

The Hangeul-loving Book Culture Center inside Sejong City Hall (Sejong City) The Hangeul-loving Book Culture Center inside Sejong City Hall (Sejong City)

Mayor Choi's advocacy for the Hangeul culture campaign stands as one of his five pivotal projects aimed at realizing the city's vision of constructing a globally exemplary capital that is self-sustaining, innovative and strategically positioned for the future. The other essential initiatives include the development of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions), horticulture, smart technology and museum sectors.

Capitalizing on its wealth of resources in public administration, Sejong City is nurturing service industries such as MICE and national research, positioning itself as a focal point for governmental functions.

Emphasizing the garden industry, Sejong City looks to harness its vast green spaces and urban design centered around gardens. Through the "Sejong, the City in the Garden" campaign, the city plans to enhance its natural landscape and host the esteemed International Garden City Expo in 2026.

In line with technological advancements, Sejong City is venturing into the smart city industry as a frontier for growth. By focusing on cutting-edge technologies like quantum computing, generative AI and more, the city aims to solidify its position as an innovation hub through smart industrial zones and pilot smart cities.

Furthermore, Sejong City is poised to host Northeast Asia's largest museum complex, paving the way for the expansion of the museum sector. The National Children's Museum debuted last year in the museum complex, with plans to relocate or establish four additional museums, including the National Folk Museum of Korea and the National Urban Architecture Museum, in Sejong by 2030.

Mayor Choi stated, "Sejong City is undergoing a significant transformation beyond its role as an administrative capital. We are cultivating a distinctive identity through the development of these five key industries as pillars of economic progress." He added, "By implementing these initiatives, Sejong City will emerge as a hub of innovation and strategic importance on the national stage."

The landscape of Sejong Lake Park (Sejong City) The landscape of Sejong Lake Park (Sejong City)

Mayor Choi also revealed the creation of three special zones within the city, aiming to transform the government administrative center into a vibrant economic and educational hub. The focal point of this strategic plan is the establishment of the Daejeon-Sejong Free Economic Zone, a joint venture with the nearby metropolitan city of Daejeon, endorsed by the central government as a pivotal regional project commitment.

"Our objective is to enhance the economic landscape of our city by attracting international investments, fostering innovation and fostering an environment conducive to foreign educational institutions," Mayor Choi emphasized.