Gamcheon Cultural Village in Cooperation with Residents, Artists and Administrators
SaHa-gu Office, Busan Metropolitan City

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
1. The Gamcheon Culture Village, located in Saha-gu Gamcheon-dong within Busan Metropolitan City, had its beginnings in the 1950s when the 1,000 government-constructed rectangular shanties for adherents of Taegeukdo (a religious group), retaining the scenery on either side of the steep hillside set against the background of Cheonmasan Mountain and Ongnyeobong Peak Alley, which overlook the beautiful Gamcheon Port. This village has a modern history and cultural value as a refugee camp. Each house in front is built so as not to hide the sunlight for the house adjoining it at the back and this coupled with the foothills of the mountain, the virtues of terraced housing are alive, preserving local identity. The pastel-colored houses painted by the villagers create a picturesque landscape, unique among the uniform appearance of other housing areas. As a result, the village has been remodeled as a contemporary town that harmonizes people and the environment. In the past, the use of shared bathrooms and joint workplaces due to the narrow living space caused discomfort for those living there. The urban infrastructure--including senior citizen centers, public facilities, and parking lots--was vastly insufficient and quality of life for residents was low. Twenty years ago, 25,000 to 30,000 people lived in this village. As young residents began to leave the village due to the lack of jobs and an inconvenient residential environment, the population rapidly decreased to the present-day 10,000. With the aging population and nearly 200 deserted or empty homes, the village changed into a crime-ridden slum and was on the brink of being razed. Resident self-esteem plummeted and their concern regarding the village community evaporated. There was an urgent need to vitalize the deteriorating village and restore the self-esteem of the inhabitants.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
2. The urban regeneration of preserving the original appearance of Gamcheon-dong village focused on preserving both its uniquely beautiful views and the historical and cultural value of the life of villagers and enhancing their pride. As artists and residents jointly installed formative art work throughout the village by the 'Dreaming Machu Picchu' Project (sponsored by the MCST) in 2009, the first step of the urban regeneration project was taken. We had financial difficulties in the process of transforming the village into a creative urban regeneration project. To overcome such financial difficulties, we participated in projects offered by various governmental agencies in the initial phase of the initiative and secured the project cost. As the village project, promoted by public subscription projects, received steady interest in the press, media and internet blogs, a social consensus of regenerating the area by preserving its original appearance was formed from central and local governments, resulting in active support. At the start of the fifth election term in 2010, the head of the Saha-gu District Office actively implemented his electoral commitment to regenerate the village while maintain its landscape and established a Creative City Planning Group to manage the Gamcheon Culture Village exclusively. Busan City pursued the Hillside Road Renaissance Project. The needs of residents could not be met by simply adding art work to the village landscape. The fundamental problem of this village was the lack of urban infrastructure. As the local government actively reflected the practical needs of residents, an urban environment was maintained and an urban infrastructure was built via residential environment improvement projects (housing remodeling for low-income households, maintenance of shared bathrooms and alleys, creation of Ssamji Parks, road construction, installation of public parking lots, removal of abandoned houses, etc.). In addition, septic tanks and individual bathrooms instead of shared bathrooms were installed. Abandoned homes were reborn as galleries and art shops by artists. A work/living space for young artists was prepared and as a result, this twilight village has begun to be re-vitalized. The residential environment improvement project increased construction works and created more jobs for residents (1,500 people per year). By stand-alone community projects sponsored by the government, a resident job creation group (13 people) was organized and residents have been able to produce and sell textile craftworks under the guidance of experts. The hillside road renaissance project, under the establishment of a master plan, activated village enterprises including a community center, integrated guidance hall, coffee shop, restaurant, and traditional shoe factory; it has given sustainable jobs to 43 villagers. In particular, a senior citizen center was installed for the seniors who occupy the majority of the village population. The pottery and dyeing skills they learned from artists has allowed them to produce and sell these kinds of items. As they act as village newspaper reporter and choir members, they have been established as independent members of the village. The development direction of the Gamcheon Culture Village was proposed as a creative and effective urban regeneration model in which villagers, artists, experts and administrators share information and communicate with each other. In the process, villagers voluntarily organized the Villager Council of the Gamcheon Culture Village. They have held a 'Gamcheon Culture Village Alley Festival' every year to develop their own content. They are personally involved the festival, selling food to create profit and reinvesting profits into resident businesses.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
3. The most original and innovative differentiation in creating the Gamcheon Culture Village is that we escaped from the traditional notion of urban reconstruction and redevelopment, added art throughout the village to form a unique landscape and color, and recreated the village as a creative space that preserves its original appearance, historicity and culture. From the start of the initiative, villagers have been involved in the whole process and artists have grafted in their work both culturally and artistically. A master consciousness for the village is emphasized and a volunteer villager council is actively involved in village operation. The resident community, experts (artists, professors, etc.) and administrative institutions have communicated and cooperated throughout the entire process of creating the Gamcheon Culture Village. As a result, the village has been transformed from an underdeveloped village into a creative community and has become a global role model for urban regeneration.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
4. In 2009, artists from the ‘Art Factory In Dadaepo’, a local culture and art creation space, joined the village art project created in cooperation with villagers and children under the auspices of the government and announced the start of 'Community Arts' in the Gamcheon Culture Village. In 2010, as part of businesses offered by the government, homes with a good view near the sea were selected from among the abandoned houses that were scattered along the terraced hillside road and remodeled these into an artistic creations exhibition space. As a stand-alone community business, we began to sell village work made by resident artists and multicultural families to promote senior job creation. As a culture, tourism and content development business, we published a Brand Identity and Gamcheon village story book and produced and sold tourist postcards and notebooks. In addition, a vacant lot in which there was a closed public toilet was reborn as a cultural space for villagers by the village seniors and artists. From 2011 to 2013, the residential environment project was pursued to reflect the practical needs of villagers. As a result, public facilities including senior citizen centers, workplaces, public bathrooms, security lights, Ssamji Park, and alley maintenance were installed, including the remodeling of 63 buildings for low-income residents and the preparation of 5 buildings for temporary public housing. From 2011 through 2013, under the guidance of a master plan, administrative support was given with the full consideration of resident needs (resident survey, completion of services, etc.) beginning with a hillside road renaissance project and with final goals that include village landscape preservation, community centers, cafes, restaurants, public parking lots, road works, residential environment improvement, lighting facilities, small museums, art galleries, photo zones, flower walkways, and a website. Since 2011, a local development festival, in which residents are involved to create profit, has been held under the theme of ‘the alley of memory’ every year. (For the Detailed Implementation Plan, see the attachment.)

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
5. Those involved in the creations of Gamcheon Culture Village are the resident community, professionals, local artists, administrators, and the like. The villager council of the resident community consists of a total of 127 people including a steering committee (26 people), promotional team (20 people), Duremoa business group (10 people), service team (10 people), village reporters (18 people), and senior job creation group (20 people). Professionals consist of village planners, university professors who act as village activists, and a village creation support center. Various stakeholders make every effort to help grow the village: a group of artists (25 people) from 'Art Factory In Dadaepo', central government organizations (MCST, MOSPA, and MLTM), the local government of Gamcheon 2-dong Community Center, Gamcheon Elementary School, Gamcheon 2-dong Security Center, Busan Natural Gas Development Headquarter, and Saha-gu Social Welfare Center.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
6. 1) Selection of various competitive projects ▷ The following are projects that art writers and public officers proposed to apply for as projects sponsored by the government and actually pursued. - The ‘Dreaming Machu Picchu Project’ in Busan: The project, sponsored by the MCST with government expenditure of 100 million won, allowed artists to recruit village students and seniors and to cooperatively pursue the project. - The ‘Miro-miro Alley Project’ sponsored by the MCST: With a budget of 230 million won (90 million won from the government, 110 million won from the Busan City, and 40 million won from the Saha-gu District), art writers (idea generation), villagers (jobs), and administrators (construction) were involved. - The Stand-alone Community Project sponsored by the MOSPA: Government expenditure of 86 million won was offered for the preparation of art shops and the production and sale of work made by seniors and multicultural families. - The ‘Culture and Tourism Contents Development Project’ sponsored by the MOEL: Under the government expenditure of 12 million won, artists offered their ideas for publishing village guide books and postcards, etc. - The ‘Machu Picchu Alley Project’ sponsored by the MCST: With a budget of 50 million won from the government and 70 million won from the Saha-gu District, artists and villagers jointly installed works of art. 2) Creation of Neighborhood Commons: With a budget of 50 million won from the government and 40 million won from the Saha-gu District, a total of 70 people including artists, seniors and residents from Gamcheon 2-dong were involved. 3) The Residential Environment Project: With public funding of 4 billion won, the Busan Saha-gu Project was pursued to help resolve citizen inconveniences including those involved in the construction of senior citizen centers, workplaces, public toilets, removal of abandoned houses, maintenance of deteriorating houses, housing remodeling, and preparation of Ssamji Parks. 4) The hillside road renaissance project (master plan): With a budget of 5,334 million won, the Busan Saha-gu project, based on a master plan, was pursed to restore the historical and cultural value of hillside roads, to enhance their accessibility and to create a new brand value for the town. This urban regeneration project included the construction of a community center, roads, small galleries, small museums, restaurants, workplaces, and a website. 5) Profits from village enterprises including restaurants, art shops, coffee shops, community center, and traditional shoe factory were secured to activate village enterprises.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
7. The main factors whereby the Gamcheon Culture Village could be created sustainably and creatively by villagers, administrators, and artists are as follows: First, the village was neatly remodeled as a terraced village under the principle that ‘the house in front should not block the sunlight of the house adjoining at the back’ as well as the passion of the artists who wanted to create a culture village by adding various colors to the village landscape. Second, financial and policy support from the central government and the Busan Saha-gu District Office were concentrated on creating Gamcheon Culture Village in line with a changing city maintenance paradigm to emphasize a creative space through the preservation of the original appearance of the village based on the basic concept of 'Preservation and Regeneration', not redevelopment and reconstruction. Third, with a villager council organized based on the Gamcheon Culture Village Corporation, villagers could be actively involved in the village project through the resident community. Professionals and administrators did their best to support this and a creative community was formed through cooperation and communication among these three groups. Fourth, village activists, artists and administrators jointly pursued the residential environment improvement project though a full consideration of the needs of residents and boosted quality of life for residents. Fifth, the villagers learned pottery and soap-making skills from artisans, making and selling these goods in person and expanding their cultural opportunities. The facilities installed by villagers including village arts, small galleries and small museums were utilized for tourism resources to create profit. A village reporter group and a choir offer enjoyment and vitality to villagers. As a result, the village mindset became unified and their pride in their village was enhanced.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
8. From 2012 to May 2013, the needs of residents were investigated and analyzed through a resident survey as part of the process of establishing the master plan to create the Gamcheon Culture Village. We reestablished the overall goals of our village by reflecting professional knowledge. To date, the Hanulmaru Guide Hall, an information center for the Gamcheon Culture Village, has conducted a survey for visitors in order to investigate and improve upon their complaints. We conduct monitoring during the Gamcheon Culture Village Festival held every year, make improvements as needed and solicit feedback on results. For two consecutive years from 2011 to 2012, the Busan Metropolitan City hosted the UNESCO International Work Camp and was designated as the World's first Slow City partner, which included a city tour of slow tourism products (ECO; Eco, Cultural, Originality). By hosting these international events, our village has been evaluated as a global role model for urban regeneration. We have garnered a good reputation both at home and abroad with reference to urban regeneration and cooperation between residents and administrators: The Minister Prize of MLTM regarding urban regeneration in 2011; the Best Prize of the Excellent Case Competition of Manifesto in the heads of national primary local governments in 2011; the Excellence Award in the First Excellent Case Presentation for Urban Regeneration sponsored by the 2013 Urban Regeneration Network; the Presidential Award in the Excellent Cases Competition of Public-Private Partnership sponsored by the Public-Private Partnership Forum; the Grand Prize in the Asia City Landscape Competition sponsored by the Asia City Landscape Society in 2012; Case Presentation in the World Cities Summit held in Chongqing, China on April 27, 2013. The continued visit of domestic and international celebrities is also being monitored and evaluated. The resident-based village newspaper reporter group announces all matters happening throughout the town on a monthly basis, forms social consensus and seeks improvements.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
9. Major problems encountered in the Gamcheon Culture Village were: First, complaints of residential life in the existing city including outdated housing and shared bathrooms, and the needs of residents who want to redevelop apartments; Second, privacy invasion and complaints of residents who live in around the tour sites of the Gamcheon Culture Village; Third, issues that stimulate the exponentially-growing tourist rate to create income and jobs for residents. Solutions: First, we established a master plan over 2012-2013 to solve problems of the old and underdeveloped village and pursued the Hillside Road Renaissance Project with full consideration of the practical needs of residents including aging house repair, maintenance and installation of shared bathrooms, alley maintenance, and public parking; the residential environment improvement project over 2011-2013 included the installation of senior citizen centers, workplaces, shared bathrooms, demolition and remodeling of abandoned housing, repairs for deteriorating homes, security light installation, and Ssamji Park construction improved the quality of life for residents. As a result, the village was remodeled as a creative space with cultural and artistic power, maintaining the original appearance of the village. It reminds the residents of the meaning of urban regeneration rather than the need for urban redevelopment. Second, we resolved living complaints by providing soundproof windows and home repair for resident who live in and around the tour sites of the Gamcheon Culture Village. We searched for ways in which to allow residents to guide visitors and to receive remuneration so that they can be involved in creating the Gamcheon Culture Village. This offers a chance for them to have a better understanding of the initiative and enhance their own pride for the village. Third, to create income and jobs for residents, about 1,500 Gamcheon-dong residents (annual figure) were involved in the housing remodeling project and the preparation of temporary public housing. To create continued jobs for residents, a resident job creation group (13 people) was formed. The residents learned pottery and metal craftwork skills under the guidance of experts, making and selling their products. About twenty shopping centers including restaurants, coffee shops, art shops, communication centers, and traditional shoe factories have been newly formed and provide residents with jobs. To strengthen the capability of residents, we host a village academy addressing such areas as entrepreneurship training and consulting, and operate an advanced city tour program and cultural lectures.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
10. One of the most important achievements through the initiative is that Gamcheon Culture Village has been highlighted as a domestic and global role model for urban regeneration. This village, a population of 10,000, was out-of-the-way and did not have many incomers. Visitors began increasing since 2010 and in 2012 about 100,000 people visited. As of the end of September 2013, have 240,000 people visited. Now, the village has been transformed to an area where people come from far and wide to see the miracle of urban regeneration. Famous celebrities as well as general visitors have come: President Park Geun-Hye, the Minister of Culture and Sports, the Minister of Security and Public Administration, and popular entertainers as well. The UNESCO International Work Camp was held for two consecutive years from 2011 to 2012. Twenty undergraduates from nine countries participated in this camp and interacted with villagers. Coverage and publicity have followed from a number of foreign media including Le Monde (France), CNN (USA), Japan, China, Singapore, and Hong Kong; and visits from global figures include Dionisio Gonzalez (world-famous architect), Olivetti (Slow City Secretary-General), Houdongseong (Vice President of Tsinghua University, China), Saiki Takaito (Deputy Mayor of Kobe), and Sato Masaru (President of the Asia City Landscape Society). Foreign senior officials from Tanzania, Uganda, Indonesia Academics, and the Technical University of Eindhoven The Netherlands have visited our village to benchmark the urban regeneration method. A town that benchmarked the Gamcheon Culture Village project has also been planned in the Hainan Province of China. The more important achievement of the Gamcheon Culture Village is that the villagers, who were indifferent to what was happening in their village, have voluntarily organized a villager council and registered it as a nonprofit corporation so that they can act as the actual subject of the village. The villager council acts as a village development council so that villagers can voluntarily discuss and decide the village development plans and share relevant information. As the local government constructs urban infrastructure and carries out the residential environment improvement project, the quality of life for villagers is improved and its visitors are increasing. The project has contributed to enhancing the self-esteem of villagers. Existing public services focused on constructing urban infrastructure such as facilities that public institutions provide residents unilaterally, whereas the Gamcheon Culture Village Project aims at identifying the needs of residents through the villager council and providing residents with necessary services so that administrators, artists, experts and residents can share and pursue joint goals cooperatively. To allow residents to perform their own role as the village’s owners, the administration helped residents stand on their own feet as a helper who performs its specified role in the proper situations and places.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
11. The sustainability factors in preparing the Gamcheon Culture Village are: First, a cooperative system between the subjects of the initiatives is required. The villager council was organized as a nonprofit corporation. The Saha-gu District Office set up an exclusive division (Creative City Planning Group). The Busan City Office established a long-term annual development plan for the Hillside Road Renaissance Project. Based on these, experts, including artists, communicate and cooperate with each other for urban regeneration as village planners and activists. Second, it is necessary to apply for financial aid for the 'Regional Development Project for Promotion of Urban Vitality' from 2014 to 2017 for the Gamcheon Culture Village. The annual projects are planned for a budget of 17 billion won from the government, Busan City Office, and Saha-gu District Office from 2014 to 2017. To this end, in 2014, various projects to cultivate the capacities of both the village community and residents will be pursued: the vacant residency project (1,000 million won) by Seung Hyo-Sang et al, a world-famous architect professor, to enhance the brand value of the village; construction of a business center to create jobs for villagers (1,450 million won); improvement of village shop signs to maintain village content (63 million won); nurturing of culture commentators and village leaders; and providing villagers with social education and training. Third, the institutional system was established by enacting an ordinance regarding the development of Gamcheon Culture Village and the support of village community in March 2013. The rules for the implementation of the ordinance are expected to be enacted to strengthen the control tower functions. We will strive to preserve the village landscape by institutional strategies including the designation of planning and zoning districts, and the signing of a landscape agreement. Fourth, we seek economical solutions to generate income for residents: Developing urban lodging and experience programs, and constructing a business center to transform small village businesses into large village businesses in order to provide many jobs for residents. In addition, we strive to dig into a variety of profitable businesses including special products and foods. The following demonstrate that information about the Gamcheon Culture Village has been spread at home and abroad. The Gamcheon Culture Village is continuously benchmarked as an advanced model of urban regeneration at home and abroad. Senior officials from several domestic and overseas local governments come here to benchmark this successful example of urban regeneration every year. By the coverage and publicity of several media outlets around the world, our village has emerged as a global culture village. The head of Saha-gu District Office conducted a case presentation in the World Cities Summit held in Chongqing, China on April 27, 2013. Our village has been publicly recognized as a successful model of urban regeneration through: The Best Prize of the Excellent Case Competition of Manifesto in the heads of national primary local governments in 2012; the Grand Prize in the Asia City Landscape Competition sponsored by the Asia City Landscape Society on November 27, 2012; the first rank of Busan landmarks selected by Busan citizens in 2012; and the Excellence Award in the First Excellent Case Presentation for Urban Regeneration sponsored by the Urban Regeneration Network. In addition, in October 2012, as part of the 'Open Asia' Project sponsored by the Busan Culture Foundation', Jin Yeong-Seop (president of ‘Art Factory In Dadaepo’) and ten people from a China team pursued the 'Haikou Art Project', which applies experience in the public art project of the Gamcheon Culture Village to the Boshe Eco-village near Hainan Province, China. Thus, the successful case of urban regeneration for the Gamcheon Culture Village is benchmarked at home and abroad and acts as a momentum to change the urban maintenance paradigm.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
12. One day in 2009, artists visited the Community Center of Gamcheon 2-dong. They said they wanted to brief villagers and relevant public officials about the future of Gamcheon Culture Village, of which the beautiful landscape is harmonized with the arts. The point of briefing was, "This village is stagnating because 20% of the population of 10,000 consists of elderly residents. But, both terraced housings and beautiful pastel-colored sceneries may be the power to transform the village." This would be just the beginning of Gamcheon Culture Village. But it was thought that even small changes such as these were far from the future of this area. It was considered to be impossible because of huge budgeting and manpower needs and the indifference of the residents. However, thanks to the active effort of the artists, we won project sponsorship from the MCST. As we installed artwork throughout the village in cooperation with residents, a miracle began to happen in this village. Both the central government and the local government of Saha-gu District, Busan, which had longed for urban regeneration, provided active support. The residents, who had looked on with folded arms, also actively cooperated to vitalize their village. As a result, the current Gamcheon Culture Village, which attracts international attention as a global model of urban regeneration, was born. As the cities discard the old and construct tall buildings for the sake of convenience, both the environment and the people are impoverished and many problems such as desocialization are caused. At this point, it is urgently required to preserve the original appearance of spaces such as this village and to structure a creative space both culturally and artistically. If it had been pursued by administrators, it would have been finished as a short-term event. However, both professional artists and local residents joined actively for long-term change for the village. The administrators provided resident amenities, enacted ordinances, and set up a master plan. As a result, the current Gamcheon Culture Village was born. These will act as a driving force to continuously develop the village and in the future, all parties concerned including residents, village activists and planners, and administrators will actively communicate and cooperate with each other based on continued creativity so that the Gamcheon Culture Village can grow as a global cultural heritage.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   SaHa-gu Office, Busan Metropolitan City
Institution Type:   Public Agency  
Contact Person:   Eun Ju KIM
Title:   Mayor  
Telephone/ Fax:   +82-51-220-4016/ FAX +82-51-220-4019
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:   604-701
City:   SaHa-gu, Busan Metropolitan City

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