Since the inauguration of the 9th Gongju City Council, Chairman Yun Gu-Byong (윤구병) has been leading a busy and productive life, dedicating himself to legislative activities for the betterment of Gongju City. In this exclusive interview, we had the opportunity to discuss with Chairman Yun about his aspirations as the head of the council, the city's major projects, and plans for tourism promotion.
Question: Congratulations on your first anniversary as Chairman. What are your aspirations as the leader of the City Council?
On July 7th last year, during the opening ceremony of the 9th Gongju City Council, I made a promise to the citizens, "I will listen to the smallest voices of the people and always approach their grievances with humility". Since then, I, along with my fellow council members, have worked tirelessly to uphold this commitment. However, there is still much room for improvement. Some people question the role of local council members, and my goal is to change their perception, to show them that we are dedicated to working for the betterment of our city. Going forward, I will strive to be more accessible to the citizens, ensuring that Gongju residents can lead happy and fulfilling lives, while also propelling the city to new heights.
Question: In this New Year's address, the spirit of resilience was emphasized. What are the essential projects Gongju City must achieve this year to respond to the local extinction crisis?
Gongju City is actively pursuing various projects to enhance the quality of life for its citizens. This year, the focus is on projects to tackle the issue of depopulation in the region. Many cities and counties, including Gongju, are facing the urgent need to address the decline in population.
One significant initiative is the "Gongju Citizens' Policy Project," which aims to increase the population by utilizing online platforms to attract more residents. In addition, there are numerous long-term projects, such as tailored population policies and incentives, activating the "Hometown Love Donation System," and utilizing the region's historical and cultural tourism resources to boost the local economy.
Question: Gongju City possesses UNESCO cultural heritage sites and other cultural assets. What are the strategies for promoting cultural arts and tourism using these resources?
Gongju City is home to numerous historical and cultural tourism assets, including the tombs of King Muryeong and Wangneung, Gongju Castle, and Magoksa Temple, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. However, the lack of basic tourism infrastructure, such as accommodation facilities, has resulted in a decline in tourism competitiveness. To overcome this, the City Council adopted a resolution in the regular session last June, urging the government and Chungcheongnam-do to expedite the establishment of a "Baekje Cultural Village" to promote Gongju's cultural heritage and attract more visitors.
Moreover, modernizing traditional culture is essential. For instance, creating visually stunning media facade content based on the historical significance of Gongju Castle could reinterpret past culture and heritage in a contemporary manner. By incorporating advanced technology into traditional culture, we can develop new forms of cultural and artistic resources that will enhance the city's tourism appeal.
Question: Regarding the 2023 Daebaeje Festival, what are the promotional strategies to make it an international event, and what role does the City Council play in this?
In May, Governor Kim Tae-Heum and Mayor Choi Won-Cheol visited Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, extending an official invitation to the Daebaeje Festival. They have been actively promoting the event in Japan, where there is significant interest in King Muryeong. Efforts like these are crucial in transforming the Daebaeje Festival into a global celebration representing South Korea.
In this process, our City Council members have been fervently promoting the festival and engaging with local citizens to participate in the "Daebaeje Citizen Participation Group". Together, we are working hard to make the festival an internationally recognized event that showcases the best of Gongju.
Question: To overcome the challenges of depopulation and population decline, what initiatives does Gongju City undertake in terms of global promotion and cooperation?
As part of our policy to enhance the quality of life and ultimately increase the permanent population, Gongju City joined the International Association of Educational Cities (IAEC) this year. Through this membership, we aim to engage in exchanges and collaborations with other outstanding educational cities worldwide, transforming Gongju into a lifelong learning city with global competitiveness.
Furthermore, we need to leverage our rich historical and cultural assets. With the recent establishment of the UNESCO World Heritage International Interpretation Center in Sejong Special Autonomous City in May 2022, we now have an opportunity to host international conferences and events related to world heritage, fostering exchanges and collaborations with heritage experts from around the world.
Gongju City not only boasts UNESCO World Heritage sites but has also undergone a remarkable transformation, revitalizing the old city center around Jeomcheon Stream. The blending of tradition and modernity in Gongju promises a memorable and enjoyable experience for all who visit.