To Enjoy Being Slow
In Korea there are not many people who enjoy slow living. It seems that most people are always in a hurry. However, there are some people in Korea who try to live slowly. There are even places for these people, and they are called "Slow Cities." In Korea five places have been designated as Slow Cities based on their qualities. There are also Slow Cities all over the world.
After Korea became an industrial society the pace of the average citizen's life became much quicker. As a reaction to this quickening lifestyle there has been a movement for people to live more slowly like their ancestors. This is the "Philosophy of Slow" which promotes an easy and composed attitude when dealing with the modern world. Modern people are used to living fast, so anything that moves slow seems to be inconvenient, unnecessary, and unbearable. In the 21st century competitions and judgments of quality are often based on speed. This frantic desire for "bigger and faster" caused the mayors of some cities to look into the movement for Slow Cities. The movement began in Italy in 1990. It was based on eating slowly and living slowly.
The mission of Slow City International is to create "an international network of cities where living is easy." The main purposes of the movement are protecting the environment, having pride in traditional culture, promoting slow food, and the consumption of local and regional farm products, as well as refocusing on local goods and crafts.
There are seven conditions that must be met in order to be considered a Slow City. First, there must be adequate environmental protection policies in place. Second, there must be a viable link to the city's cultural history. Third, the city must have been designed organically around its infrastructure, so there are no serious breaks with the city's history. However, this does not mean that a Slow City must be stuck in the past. The design of the city must be able to adjust to the flow of the present and future. Fourth, the city must make good use of the principal products of the region. The methods for growing crops must be based on traditional methods as well as being eco-friendly. Fifth, there must be a movement for local market revitalization. In Europe at small markets, they sell food and other goods through direct transactions. In Korean Slow Cities, an effort is being made to revitalize local markets by promoting 5-day village markets. Sixth, the population of a Slow City must be under 500,000 people. Finally, there are other conditions that cannot be measured. These conditions are based on the attitude of the people and how they move.
Some Slow Cities in Korea
The importance of sun-dried salt or tideland salt has been forgotten for quite some time. This is not true in the town of Jeungdo, Shinan, which boasts Korea's single largest salt field. Tourists can visit the salt museum housed there, and they can take in the history and culture of salt production in a renovated building that had previously been used to store salt. The museum, which is near the Taepyeong Salt Farm, has also been designated as a Modern Cultural Asset of Korea.
In Cheongsando, Wando, they still maintain their unique burial customs and traditional farming methods. Here they make use of cattle to cultivate the flat stone rice. Visitors can experience the beauty, natural splendor, and the warm feelings of the people. Pieces of flat stone are used for flooring. A Korean traditional stone floor and stone wall remain here. In Wando, they harvest ear shells and sea slugs.
The town of Yuchi, Jangheung is noted for having the largest organic pyogo mushroom plantation in Korea. Jangheung produces food using organic farming methods that fit well with the slow food movement. This place is important for expanding awareness about slow food. This city is truly environmentally friendly.
Changpyeong, in Damyang country, has been certified as a Slow City because it fully protects its culture and ecology, actively promotes traditional food, and encourages a variety of community activities. In Changpyeong, many traditional houses remain and there are cultural assets to be found including the traditional local farming culture. Changpyeong provides its citizens with many opportunities to experience Korean traditional culture, and it meets the conditions for being a Slow City. Changpyeong is home to many Korean traditional foods, including Gukbap, Tteokgalbi and Hangwa.
Hadong is famous for being home to Korea's first wild green tea plantations. The green tea of Hadong is grown naturally without the use of agricultural chemicals. The tea has a unique taste and a rich fragrance. The town of Akyang is known as the setting for "Toji," a monumental epic novel written by Gyeong-Ri Park. With no green houses in sight, visitors to Akyang can observe more traditional agricultural scenery. Visitors can enjoy clean water, wind, and sunshine along with the green tea in the company of Hadong's friendly residents. Hadong is the first Slow City to specialize in tea field plantations. During the 2009 Slow City International Assembly, Hadong's green tea was served to all the participants. It will continue to be served at future assemblies and it will be promoted outside Korea.
Slow Cities around the World
The Slow City movement came about from the original idea of Paolo Saturnini, Mayor of Greve, in Italy in October 1999. Greve became the worlds first Slow City and was followed by other cities in Europe like Bra, Orvieto, and Positano. Saturnini, had to decide between two alternatives; the town would either endeavor to become a big city through urban development initiatives, or it would be reborn as "a small town" giving new life to its own regional character. Saturnini decided to protect the local industry and traditions from the excesses of big business and globalization. He wanted to preserve the soul, tradition and history of the town by protecting the local environment and traditional industries. The philosophy of the Slow City movement was incorporated into all municipal policies and practices. Development was limited by strict planning and environmental laws. Mega markets were not allowed in order to protect local stores, and only local residents could own properties within the town. Saturnini encouraged residents to produce agro-livestock and to craft products, such as spaghetti noodles, and wine using traditional methods. As a result of these policies, Greve has a 100% employment rate and a higher level of income than other small and medium size Italian cities.
In Germany, the first Slow City was Hersbruck. The change to being a Slow City was done in order to rediscover the identity of the city. In Hersbruck, wood crafts are part of the traditional heritage. They make anything from small carvings to large pieces of furniture. Once a week they hold a direct market in order to promote this local industrial tradition. In the local beer breweries, beer is made using traditional methods. Hersbruck has initiated many Slow City projects. Local Agenda 21 was passed in order to help maintain traditional culture. They placed wood sculptures along roadways, and changed the city buses to burn natural gas. After these projects were completed, residents felt a greater attachment to their town.
In England there is Aylsham. Here they have started a new brand that hopes to highlight the difference between mass produced low quality and slow produced high quality. In order to accomplish this the Slow Food Convivium was created. The Convivium manages school lunches and teaches cooking methods. They also offer courses in which they teach students how to find clean healthy food. They promote "the Slow Big Breakfast" which is a food festival held every year. In November 2005, Alysham received a prize for being one of the best towns in the world to live in. During the past 10 years, there has been a 200% increase in tourism. Every year 8 million people visit Aylsham. In addition to these three cities; there are also Slow Cities in Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and Portugal.
Featured Korean Slow City - Changpyeong, Damyang
We can see Korean traditional houses and stone walls in Samjichen which is an area inside Changpyeong. The stone walls remain, and enhances the traditional flavor of this town. In about 1510, Mr. Go of the Changpyeong family and his relatives settled in Damyang. Methods for making traditional food have been preserved and maintained through modern times here, that is one of the reasons why the first Slow City in Korea is so special.
Interview I - Slow City Resident, Jin-Sook Kim
Jin-Sook Kim has lived in a Slow City from the time she was married. She thinks the appeal of Slow Cities is kind people and easy living. When Changpyeong was selected as a Slow City, many tourists came to visit Changpyeong for the "Market of Snail." This gave many people the opportunity to learn about slow food and Samjichen Village. Samjichen Village is a good place to live in.
Interview II - Chul-Jung Kim, Head Offical of Changpyeong Slow City
Q1. Why was Changpyeong selected as a Slow City?
Among the conditions to be a Slow City, the population must be under 500,000 and traditional cooking arts must be maintained. In Changpyeong, a long time ago Prince Yang Ryung lived in this area. Court ladies accompanied him everywhere. They made Hangwa and glutinous rice jelly using secret methods. Those methods were handed down from generation to generation and finally Changpyeong became famous for its Hangwa and glutinous rice jelly.
Q2. What is special about Changpyeong, compared with other Slow Cities?
Any city in Korea has people who make Hangwa or soybean paste. In Korea there are 35 masters of this craft. Four of them live in Damyang, and three of them live in Changpyeong. These are the people who keep Korean traditions alive.
Q3. Have more people visited since Changpyeong became a Slow City?
Many tourists have visited Changpyeong because it has a better approach than other Slow Cities in Korea. It was a popular place before, so we were able to take advantage of that. That's why so many more people have visited since it became a Slow City.
Q4. What efforts will you make to develop this Slow City?
Samjichen means three waterways, so we will build infrastructure on and around barren land and waterways. This plan will bring us back to the old days. We also want to stimulate the "Market of Snail," which is held on the second Saturday of every month to improve the quality of life for our residents. This market sells produce cultivated locally. It will not only promote the Slow City, but also help local residents.
Q5. Why are the five Slow Cities in Korea all in Jeollanam-do?
The Slow City movement is a private organization. If the government pushes the project, there can be many more places in Korea. In the beginning of the process, each private organization initiated its own Slow City project. In Jeollanam-do there was already an established eco-tourism industry so many Jeollanam-do private organizations applied for Slow City status. These efforts led to the selection of 5 Slow Cities in Jeollanam-do.
Q6. What do you think of the Slow City as a resident and the supervisor?
It has been very good for us here, but there have been a few problems. For example, after the village was selected as a Slow City, many tourists came here by car, so many cars passed through the village. The residents became a little uncomfortable because of the increase in traffic. Therefore, our Slow City is going to make no car zones and further develop the "Market of Snail." The opinion of the residents must be respected if the Slow City is going to work. It is true that Slow Cities are becoming more and more developed.
Changpyeong has always been a popular place for people to visit as an environment-friendly tourist destination, this allows us to be well matched with the conditions of being a Slow City. From now on, it will be an even more popular tourist spot and we will improve our residents quality of life.
Interview III - Korean Traditional Food Grand Master in soybean foods, Soon-Do Ki
She is a Korean Food Grand Master. She tries to preserve the traditional taste of soybean paste. This tradition has been maintained for over 360 years. She thinks the most important part of Korea's food culture is soybean paste because most of our foods are made with it. According to her, salt is not good for health. Every country uses a lot of salt in their cooking, Korea also uses salt. However, salt is not as healthy as soy sauce. Soy sauce is good for health and it has wonderful flavor.
Interview IV - Korean Traditional Food Grand Master in Hangwa, Sun-Ae Park
Sun-Ae Park is a Grand Master of Korean crackers, Hangwa. Damyang Hangwa maintains the tradition of Korean crackers by persisting in following fundamental rules in making food. Her goal is to produce food that can be consumed by her own family. She aims to reproduce the taste of the original Korean crackers in the traditional way. After Changpyeong was selected as a Slow City, information about Changpyeong and slow food has come out. It has also introduced Hangwa to younger people. The brand name of Damyang Hangwa is "Aroohwa." It means that Korean crackers are as beautiful as the petals of a flower. Ms. Park is aiming at a global market and hopes the world will appreciate and enjoy Hangwa.
When we first heard about the Slow City, we thought that it just meant living a slow life. However, the benefits of living in a Slow City are an increased appreciation and awareness of tradition, restful places to live and relax, as well as beautiful natural scenery. Not everyone thinks this way, but some people who are used to living in fast paced cities will be attracted to Slow Cities because they are restful and relaxing places to live. As you walk along a stone wall road, you can also appreciate the slow life in comparison to busy city life. We do not feel like our lives are slow, they just seem easier. Just because you are not always in a hurry does not mean you are slow. It is natural to want to live a peaceful life. Slow Cities give us all the opportunity to live that kind of life.