Miro Miro Initiative
Saha-gu Office

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Nestled into the rolling hills of Saha-gu in western Busan, Gamcheon Culture Village is certainly a sight to behold. After spending most of the 20th century as one of Busan's poorest areas, the village is now renowned for its splendidly colorful terrace houses spread across steep hills looking out to the sea and labyrinth-like narrow alleys. This amazing transformation of the village began with the launch of an urban regeneration initiative called The Urban Miracle on Miro Miro Alleyways (the Miro Miro Initiative) in 2009. The Initiative was given the name because Miro had a dual meaning: the traditional meaning denotes a maze while it may allude to a beautiful street. After reaching 26,029 in 1981, the population of the village had been gradually decreasing over the years and eventually dropped to 10,394 in 2010. As young people chose to leave the village and no population influx happened, the village had a high proportion of elderly citizens and increased number of bleak, abandoned houses, all of which contributed to the rapid deterioration of the community. Around the time of the launch of the Miro Miro Initiative, the number of seniors over 65 was 2,594, a quarter of total population, and the number of abandoned houses was about 300, 6.6 percent of the total number of houses in the village. The urban decay also meant the increase of the underprivileged and vulnerable population, accounting for 24 percent of the village population. The number of the underprivileged and vulnerable was 2,449: 641 recipients of National Basic Livelihood Security Benefit; 289 persons in the next lowest income bracket; 128 single parents, 437 senior citizens living alone; and 954 persons with disabilities. The deterioration of the village was clearly reflected on the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), a deprivation index at the small area level. According to IMD compiled by the Busan Metropolitan Government, Gamcheon-dong where Gamcheon Village was located was ranked second among 205 Dongs of Busan. (Dong is a sub-municipal level administrative unit of a city in the Republic of Korea.) IMD is made up of seven distinct dimensions of deprivation called domain indices, including income, employment, health, education, housing, living environment, and crime. The higher the score in IMD, the more deprived a village is. Unfortunately, Gamcheon-dong scored high in all seven domain indices. It was evident that Gamcheon Village needed an innovative solution to address the above-stated problems. In this regard, the Miro Miro Initiative was developed and implemented to improve the living environment in the neighborhood and the quality of life of the poor and vulnerable residents.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
1. The Miro Miro Initiative shall preserve the unique urban landscape of Gamcheon Village and the historical legacy of the village residents. 2. The Miro Miro Initiative shall improve the quality of life of the residents by means of culture and arts. 3. The Miro Miro Initiative shall improve the living environment for the residents by the building and improving of infrastructure.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
1. The Main Objectives  To regenerate the old and underprivileged village, turning it into a socially, economically, culturally revitalized one  To improve the quality of life of the poor through improving living environment, providing social welfare services, creating jobs and generating income 2. The Target Audience The recipients of the Initiative are the village residents, including the underprivileged and vulnerable, who benefited from the improved infrastructure, culture and arts programs, and newly created jobs. 3. The Effects of the Initiative a. The village has been transformed into a tourist attraction with annual visitors of 1.85 million from home and abroad. The number of visitors drastically increased from 25,000 in 2011 to 1.85 million in 2016. b. The quality of life of the poor has been improved though the revitalization of the local economy and the creation of jobs. For instance, 282 new jobs were generated, increasing the income of the residents. c. The living environment of the underprivileged and vulnerable has improved since the implementation of the initiative. Following are some of the improvement measures taken.  Two communal septic tanks, to be used by up to 200 persons, were installed to get rid of malodor.  A 5,129-meter-long separate sewer system was constructed to deal with a lack of the sewerage system and pervasive malodor.  Dilapidated, empty houses and a closed bathhouse were renovated to create community spaces to offer culture and art programs, set up a public workshop and host social events.  Laundry service is provided for the elderly over 65 who experience difficulty in washing their large, thick blankets. Since September 2015, 570 cases of laundry service were provided.  A café exclusively hiring the elderly over 65 opened, creating 14 jobs for senior residents.  In October 2016, a bathhouse opened for people whose houses didn’t have their own bath and shower. As of December, 2016, 378 persons used a facility at a small admission charge.  The Village Maintenance Office was established in July 2015 to perform free-of-charge, minor repair of residential property such as changing a light bulb or fixing a leaky faucet. As of December 2016, 1,238 cases of repair were reported.  Free shuttle bus began its operation in August, 2016 for residents who didn’t have easy access to the public transportation. As of December 2016, 7,902 passengers enjoyed a free ride.  Public toilets were built in 13 locations for residents whose houses didn’t have a toilet.  A maintenance project for dilapidated houses was launched in 2013. The project is free-of-charge and ongoing. 314 households benefited from painting, roof repair, replacing wallpapers and floor repair.  Four senior centers were built to provide a venue for social activities and events.  The Childcare Support Center was established to assist mothers with infants and children. The Children’s Library and Toy Library are located in the Center.  A community library with the reference desk and a reading room opened to the public to provide residents with access to acclaimed literary works and a space to study. d. The Initiative provided the underprivileged residents with an opportunity to participate in various cultural activities, including a village choir, an amateur theater group, singing and guitar lessons. e. Various actions were taken to create safe living environment.  Decades-long retaining walls were repaired.  Old alleys were re-paved.  Safety handrails were built along the hillside roads.  Crime prevention through environmental design strategy was adopted. A monitoring center was established with the 15 new surveillance cameras. 591 street lights were installed along the dark alleys.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
There were serious flaws in the previous urban regeneration policies, which adopted a redevelopment approach: neighborhoods were demolished, the underprivileged and poor were often displaced by redevelopment, and the cultural legacy of these people could not be properly preserved. Saha-gu Office presented a paradigm shift in its urban regeneration policy upon the implementation of the Miro Miro Initiative. The Initiative focused on preservation whereas the previous urban regeneration policies focused on redevelopment. The Initiative enabled the village to retain its original form and the residents to stay in the village without abandoning the history and culture of the village. In addition, Saha-gu pursued the Initiative in cooperation with the Residents Association of Gamcheon Culture Village and civilian experts, rather than following a government-led, top-down decision making process. Such cooperation contributed to the Initiative’s favorable reception from the residents. Saha-gu achieved sustainable development by creating economical and social environments for self-sufficiency of the poor, providing them with new jobs and income through the Initiative that supports the underprivileged and vulnerable in a constant and stable way. Saha-gu also achieved the transferability of the Initiative by creating and promoting the brand identity of the village.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
1. There are five key players who played a role in implementing the Miro Miro Initiative. Each player contributed to the successful implementation of the Initiative, closely cooperating and effectively communicating with one another. a. Residents Association Its members suggested ideas, provided feedback and actively participated in the implementation process. b. Experts from the private and public sectors The experts recommended professional know-how and knowledge, and coordinated the communication between the governmental organizations and residents. c. Local artists They donated artistic talents and developed cultural content of the Initiative. d. Governmental organizations These organizations exercised general supervision over the preparation and implementation of the Initiative, provided administrative assistance, and secured funds. e. Relevant organizations The organizations suggested ideas in the related fields and closely cooperated with other organizations and players. 2. On the other hand, there are three major beneficiaries affected by the Initiative. a. Local residents  282 new jobs were created for the benefit of the poor population of so that they would be economically and socially self-sufficient;  the living conditions were improved by installing communal septic tanks, building a separate sewer system, re-paving the old alleys, repaired old retaining walls and installing safety handrails;  various social services were conducted to improve the quality of life such as free pick up & delivery laundry service, operation of a public bathhouse, a free shuttle bus, free minor repair of residential property, a maintenance project for dilapidated houses for free;  various cultural and arts programs are now available to the residents, contributing to their emotional and mental stability;  pride of the residents in their village substantially enhanced due to the numerous positive media reports and increased popularity of the neighborhood among the tourists from home and abroad. b. Tourism industry The number of travelers who visited tourist destinations in the west of Busan increased according to a big data analysis by Busan Metropolitan Government. The popularity of Gamcheon Culture Village is thought to have contributed to the recent surge in the number of visitors in West Busan because the village is a stop on the tourist trail in West Busan and people who visit the village often visit other tourist attractions on the trail. Previously, tourist destinations in the west of the city were usually neglected by travelers because tourist attractions in the east of the city were better known than the ones in the west. In this regard, the Initiative contributed to the balanced development of the tourism industry in Busan. The same big data analysis showed the number of foreign visitors to the village increased by 71.3% compared to last year, proving that the village did induce travelers to visit other tourist attractions in the western part of Busan. c. Local commercial districts The more visitors come to the village, the more shops spring up in the neighborhood. The number of shops increased by 60. In addition, the traditional market in the village, which used to suffer high vacancy, is now with a great atmosphere and bustling stalls.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
1. Timeline a. 2009: Launch of Dreaming of Machu Picchu in Busan Project In cooperation with local residents and artists, Saha-gu won a bid for a national community art project called Maeulmisul Art Project sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The Dreaming of Machu Picchu in Busan Project (DMPB Project) was soon launched. In accordance with the DMPB Project, murals were painted and 10 pieces of art installations were added to the neighborhood. b. 2010: Creation of the Residents Association In February 2010, a local residents group was formed to suggest ideas for and assist the implementation of an urban regeneration initiative. In March 2013, the group was incorporated as the Residents Association of Gamcheon Culture Village, a non-profit organization with 127 members. The association was certified as a social enterprise in 2014 by the Ministry of Employment and Labor. c. 2010, 2012 and 2016: Launch of Miro Miro Project and other community art projects In 2010, a new project was launched and saw the addition of 12 more works, including alley paintings and installations. The new project was named Miro Miro based on the physical features of Gamcheon-dong. Miro was a fitting name for the community filled with narrow lanes because Miro means simultaneously a maze and a beautiful street. In 2012, the follow-up Machu Picchu Alleyway Project added 10 pieces of art in abandoned houses, and in 2016, another art project was launched to invigorate the lower part of the village, installing sculptures modeled after real persons in the village. d. 2011: Establishment of the Office of Creative City Planning The Office of Creative City Planning is directly responsible and answerable only to the Head of Saha-gu, which makes it possible for the Office to make a quick decision and promptly implement a policy. e. 2011 – ongoing: Improvement of living environment Various spaces were renovated as venues with particular functions: a vacant lot was transformed into a multi-purpose, performance venue; an abandoned bathhouse into an art gallery and meeting room; and an old, empty house at the top of the hill into an observatory. Moreover, dilapidated and low-quality houses were refurbished and public toilets were renovated. f. 2013: Issuance of Municipal Ordinance on the Promotion of Gamcheon Culture Village The master plan was announced, detailing urban landscape planning, income generation, and other arrangements to revitalize the local economy. A municipal ordinance was issued to facilitate the master plan methodically. g. 2015: Village planners and village advocates Experts from the private and public sectors were invited to be advisors to sustainably pursue urban regeneration. Experts from the academia were appointed village planners and local artists were named village advocates. 2. Funding a. Central government The village won several bids to carry out an urban regeneration project sponsored by such government agencies as Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, and Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs. b. Busan Metropolitan City The village secured the budget to improve living conditions of the residents through the Sanbok Road Renaissance Project, an urban regeneration scheme pursued by Busan Metropolitan government. c. Saha-gu Saha-gu also has its own budget for the Initiative. d. Donation The village benefited from cash offering, goods and items donation, and talent donation from Governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations. e. Community Development Fund A portion of proceeds from the village shops go to the Community Development Fund.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
There are five key stakeholders who played a role in designing and implementing the Miro Miro Initiative. 1. Residents Association The Residents Association of Gamcheon Culture Village was incorporated in March, 2013. The Residents Association suggests ideas, provides feedback and actively participates in the implementation of the Initiative. It consists of 6 teams with 120 members, hosts a meeting twice a month. A social enterprise certified by Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency, the Residents Association currently runs 11 village shops. 2. Experts from the private and public sectors The experts recommend professional know-how and knowledge, and coordinate the communication between the governmental organizations and residents. These experts include village planners, village advocates, an advisory committee, and the Village Support Center. 3. Local artists Artist organizations and resident artists donate artistic talents and develop cultural content of the Initiative. 4. Governmental organizations The Creative City Bureau of Busan Metropolitan Government, the Office of Creative City Planning of Saha-gu, and Gamcheon-dong Office are the organizations that exercise general supervision over the preparation and implementation of the Initiative, provide administrative assistance, and secure funds. 5. Relevant organizations Relevant organizations include Gamjeong Elementary School, the Senior Club, and the Gamcheon Police Patrol & Services Center. They suggest ideas in their respective professional fields and closely cooperate with other organizations and players.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The Miro Miro Initiative produced concrete outputs in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. Below are the four successful outputs of the Initiative. 1. Sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11) The Initiative ensured access for the residents to adequate and safe housing and basic services through following activities: renovating dilapidated houses for free; repairing old walls; re-paving narrow alleyways; installing fire hydrants; and installing surveillance cameras and street lights along the dark alleys. The Initiative also provided residents with access to accessible and sustainable public transportation by launching the free shuttle bus service. Additionally, the Initiative promoted inclusive and sustainable urban regeneration by enhancing residents’ capacity, through various educational and cultural programs, and encouraging their participation in the planning and implementation of the Initiative. 2. Decent work and economic growth (Goal 8) As the number of visitors significantly increased, numerous new businesses serving the visitors opened and 282 new jobs were generated. The sustainable tourism not only created jobs but also promoted local culture and products. The new jobs were offered with the benefit of four major social insurances, and guaranteed minimum wage and severance pay. The booming local economy contributed to the financial and social self-sufficiency of the residents who had been the most vulnerable and poorest in Busan. In addition, the Residents Association, consisting of 127 residents, was established to foster sustainability of the Initiative. The association runs village shops, generating the annual sales of USD 1.23 million. 3. Clean water and sanitation (Goal 6) Most of the residents used to live in an old, tiny property, smaller than 13 m2, without a bath and toilet. To achieve access to adequate sanitation and hygiene for residents, more public toilets were built, the community bathhouse began its operation, a separate sewer system and two communal septic tanks were installed. 4. Quality education (Goal 4) Various educational activities were conducted so that the residents in all age groups acquired the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development and lifestyles. The older residents may enroll in the Village Academy of Continuing Education for Adult. Also, the residents benefit from the various cultural and arts programs such as a village choir, an amateur theater group, and singing and guitar lessons. Moreover, the residents now learn how to appreciate cultural diversity with the support from the Association of Women in Multicultural Families established upon the implementation of the Initiative.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
There were two main obstacles that were encountered during the implementation of the Miro Miro Initiative. 1. Public indifference Gamcheon Village has long been home to the city’s poorest residents who devoted most of their time and effort to earn a living. Naturally, the most of the residents were either indifferent to or skeptical about the Initiative in the beginning. The government decided to convince the residents by showing them the successful outcomes of the Initiative. The living environment was noticeably improved and jobs were created after the implementation of the Initiative. Once the residents noticed that the quality of life improved, they started to participate in the Initiative actively and willingly. 2. Securing stable sources of funding Urban regeneration cannot be achieved in the short term and requires constant efforts and stable funding. It was, and still is, very difficult to secure stable sources of funding to keep up the Initiative. Saha-gu has been successful in obtain financial resources by winning a competition sponsored by various government and non-government organizations.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
1. Increased financial and social self-sufficiency The Miro Miro Initiative generated sustainable and stable jobs for the vulnerable and poor, and as a result, they were able to financially support themselves and integrate into broader society. In total, 282 new jobs were created: Saha-gu employed 71 residents; the Residents Association which runs village shops employed 26 residents; businesses which concluded a contract of occupancy in the neighborhood hired 67 residents; and individual businesses employed 118 residents. 2. Improved living environment Many of the residents had lived in an old, tiny property, smaller than 13m2, without a bath and toilet. These properties were often far away from the public bathhouse and toilets. A new community bathhouse and toilets were built after reviewing the residents’ opinion on the location and size of the facilities. Sanitation and hygiene were improved even more after a separate sewer system and communal septic tanks were constructed. Additionally, the Village Maintenance Office was established to perform free-of-charge, minor repair of residential property. Moreover, laundry service is provided for the elderly over 65 who experience difficulty in washing their large, thick blankets. 3. Enhanced mobility and access to transportation Many houses in the village were located high in the hills and the residents suffered limited access to public transportation. To make matters worse, senior citizens comprised a large proportion of those living in the neighborhood and their mobility was severely restricted. To deal with these issues, the free shuttle bus service is now provided and for residents use only. 4. Effective provision of cultural services The poor, underprivileged residents spent most of their energy and time on maintaining their livelihoods, and seldom had an opportunity to participate in cultural activities. The Initiative satisfied the needs of the residents by providing various culture and arts programs and creating art studios and galleries. 5. Reduced crime The village, which has long been home to the city’s poorest residents, is now covered with installations, sculptures and murals and fitted out with galleries. The village has completely transformed itself into a popular tourist destination that attracts 185 visitors per year. After the implementation of the Initiative, the atmosphere and impression of the village has completely changed for the better, which served as crime deterrent and contributed to the reduction of crime rate. 6. Strengthened sense of community Since the launch of the Initiative, the village has become a place of interest where many domestic and foreign visitors drop by. Due to the popularity and fame, the village received considerable media attention and numerous awards which brought prestige to the village. As a result, the residents began to take great pride in their neighborhood and show a growing sense of community to such an extent that some of the people who had previously left the village even returned.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
To ensure transparency and integrity in the delivery of public services, Saha-gu Office had rounds of consultation with residents, local artists and relevant organizations prior to the implementation of the Miro Miro Initiative. In every phase of the Initiative implementation, briefing sessions and public hearings were held to give a presentation to and solicit feedback from the various stakeholders. The Residents Association of Gamcheon Culture Village regularly hosts a meeting twice a month to gather public opinion on the Initiative. It also holds an unscheduled meeting whenever the need arises. Residents are able to express ideas and offer suggestions on the public policies at the meetings. They are officially notified of how their feedback affects the implementation of the Initiative at the next meeting.

 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)
The Initiative helped the establishment of three women’s associations. It even helped these organizations start a business.  Moms Cooperative, comprising middle-aged mothers, runs a restaurant and donates a portion of sales to the village development fund.  Association of Women in Multicultural Families, consisting of foreign women who married Korean men, conducted such activities as providing assistance for overseas tourists, developing and selling foreign menus at village restaurants, and providing support for other multicultural women.  Art Lovers Association, comprising mothers of students at Gamjeong Elementary School, runs hands-on learning programs, and volunteers at a village festival The Center for Promising Youth, with the budget of USD 906,000, was founded in 2013. At the center, mothers take care of children jointly with other mothers of the community, that is, mothers take turns to look after children. Gamnaegol Happy Power Station, a workshop for residents’ use, adopted a flexible working hour arrangement to facilitate the convenience of mothers who couldn’t work long hours due to childcare responsibilities. Mothers may come in to work anytime as long as they work 3 hours a day. A lactation room was built inside the Village Information Center with the operation budget of USD 5,200.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Saha-gu Office
Institution Type:   Local Government  
Contact Person:   Wonjya YUN
Title:   Head Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   +82 51 888 5101/5089
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   yunwonjya@gmail.com  
Postal Code:   49328
City:   Busan

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