South Korea: where modernity meets tradition

Baku, May 3, AZERTAC

South Korea hosted World Journalists Conference 2015 from April 12 to 18, which apart from providing a platform for discussing topical issues about journalism, created plenty of opportunity for 100 delegates from 60 countries to familiarize themselves with South Korea`s traditions, enjoy hospitality of local people, and visit the country`s must-see places.

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia. South Korea occupies the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea to the north, China across the sea to the west and Japan a short ferry ride to the southeast.

South Korea is a very homogeneous country, with nearly all native residents identifying themselves as ethnically Korean and speaking the Korean language.

Seoul, the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea, is considered a leading and rising global city, resulting from an economic boom called the Miracle on the Han River. A world leading technology hub centered on Gangnam and Digital Media City, the Seoul Capital Area boasts Fortune Global 500 companies such as Samsung, the world's largest technology company, as well as LG and Hyundai-Kia. Ranked sixth in the Global Power City Index and eighth in the Global Financial Centres Index, the metropolis exerts a major influence in global affairs as one of the five leading hosts of global conferences. Seoul ranked seventh in the Sustainable Cities Index, the highest in Asia and ranked second worldwide in the social category. It also hosts the world's most art openings per square mile. Seoul is the world's most wired city and ranked first in technology readiness by PwC's Cities of Opportunity report. Its public transportation infrastructure is the world's densest and ranked as the best in the Northern Hemisphere in the Sustainable Cities Index. It is served by the KTX high-speed rail and the Seoul Subway, the world's largest subway network, providing 4G LTE, WiFi and DMB inside subway cars.

Participants of World Journalists Conference visited Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, and the National Assembly in Seoul.

Changdeokgung — also known as Changdeokgung Palace or Changdeok Palace —is one of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. As it is located east of Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeokgung — along with Changgyeonggung — is also referred to as the "East Palace". Changdeokgung Palace is listed as a UNESCO World heritage site for its historical significance, simplicity and subtleness.

The Palace itself is a masterful work but particularly noteworthy is the back garden (Huwon), also called the Secret garden, which is widely acclaimed for its beautifully landscaped and creative gardens. This beautiful garden is well known for perfect harmonization with surrounding nature.

The building of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea was constructed in 1975. The pillars and the dome symbolize the various opinions of the public emerging as one. The building is a favorite among tourists as it is located next to the Han River. It contains Visitor Center, a walking area, and benches alongside the Han River.

World Journalists Conference`s participants also travelled to Daegu, officially known as the Daegu Metropolitan City.

Daegu is the fourth largest after Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, and the third largest metropolitan area in the nation with over 2.5 million residents. Daegu is a manufacturing industry city. The major industries are textiles, metals and machinery. The quality of the apples grown around the city is renowned around Korea. Many companies such as Daegu Bank, Korea Delphi, Hwasung corp., and TaeguTec are situated in this city, and Samsung and Kolon were founded here. Numerous factories are located in the industrial complexes situated in the west and north sides of the city including the Seongseo Industrial Complex, West Daegu Industrial Complex and the Daegu Dyeing Industrial Complex.

Daegu was considered the third major economic city in Korea, after Seoul and Busan.

Daegu Metropolitan Transit Line 3 is the last line completed in phase 1 of the construction plan. It is Korea`s first monorail that will not only be used for tourism purposes, but also be genuinely used ad urban rail transportation. Also, its rail boasts the fourth longest length in the world. Line 3 moves around the city center, ten meters above the ground, serving as an observatory on the move and also carrying tourists to different destinations in the city center.

On the sidelines of the 7th World Water Forum Expo and Fair 2015, delegates attending World Journalists Conference joined Daegu night, and visited Donghwa Temple.

“Water for our Future”: 7th World Water Forum 2015 brought together participants from the international water community: academics, research institutions, enterprises, professional networks, governments and policy-makers, IGOs and NGOs, as well as representatives from various fields such as agriculture, food or energy. The 7th World Water Forum was jointly organized by the World Water Council and the Republic of Korea together with the city of Daegu and the Province of Gyeongbuk.

The World Water Forum is a large-scale international conference that is held every three years since 1997 in cooperation with the public, private sectors, academia, and industries. It was first launched in an effort to facilitate international discussions on global water challenges.

Donghwa Temple is a Buddhist temple of the Jogye Order in northern Daegu. The temple is located to the south of Daegu Jinsan Mt. Palgong. Its name changed into Donghwa Temple is because the phoenix trees still bloom in winter here. The temple had suffered from destruction and experienced rebuilding for a few times. Most parts of the existing temple were rebuilt during Joseon Yeong-jo Period.

The inner constructions include central Daeung-jeon, Bongseo-lu symbolizing phoenix, Cheontae-gak, Yeongsang-jeon and Simgeom-dang, as well as the Tongil Yaksa Buddha statue built in 1992.The Buddha statue is in a pretty huge scale with its feet reaching 17m high, and the statue`s building has implied people`s wish for unification.

The next destination of participants of World Journalists Conference 2015 was Busan, officially Busan Metropolitan City.

Busan is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of approximately 3.6 million. The population of the metropolitan area, including the adjacent cities of Gimhae and Yangsan, is approximately 4.6 million. The city is located on the southeastern-most tip of the Korean peninsula. The most densely built up areas of the city are situated in a number of narrow valleys between the Nakdong River and Suyeong River, with mountains separating some of the districts.

Busan has Korea's largest beach and longest river, and is home to the world's largest department store, the Shinsegae Centum City.

Busan is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth busiest seaport in the world with transportation and shipping among the most high profile aspects of the local economy. Since 1978, Busan has opened three container ports including Jaseungdae, Shinsundae, and Gamman. Busan has one of the world's largest ports and can handle up to 13.2 million TEU shipping containers per year.

The Busan-Jinhae Free Economic Zone Authority, one of two such administrations in Korea, was created to reassert Busan's status as a traditional international trading centre. The port attracts ships from all over the globe and the surrounding area aspires to become a regional financial centre.

Korea Exchange (KRX), Korea's sole securities exchange operator, is headquartered in Busan.

Busan is the home of the headquarters of Renault Samsung Motors, Hanjin Heavy Industries, Busan Bank, Air Busan, Hi Investment & Securities, Woori Aviva Life Insurance, Korea Technology Finance Corporation, Korea Asset Management Corporation, Korea Housing-Finance Corporation, Korea Securities Depository, Korea Housing Guarantee Company, Korea Southern Power Company.

Busan was ranked 27th among 83 cities and top 8 Asia/Pacific centres of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) published by UK-based Z/Yen Group in March 2014.

In Busan, the conference participants visited United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Gamcheon Culture Village, BEXCO (Busan Exhibition & Convention Center) and Busan Cinema Center.

United Nations Memorial Cemetery is a sacred site where rest the souls of those heroes who sacrificed their lives for peace and freedom on the Korean Peninsula. It was established to honor the service and sacrifices of UN soldiers who died during the Korean War, based on the Agreement between the Republic of Korea and the United Nations for the Establishment and Maintenance of a United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea. The Korean government volunteered the land for permanent use by UN as a cemetery, and declared the grounds of the cemetery as inviolable. The sanctuary occupies a grassy area of 144,182m2. About 11,000 fallen UN solders were originally interred here, but some countries repatriated their war dead. Currently 2,300 graves remain, including those for 281 Australians, 378 Canadians, 44 Frenchmen, 117 Dutchmen, 34 New Zealanders, 1 Norwegian, 36 Koreans, 11 South Africans, 642 Turks, 885 Britons, 36 Americans, 4 unknown persons, and 11 non-combatants. In 1978, the Korean government constructed the 12 meter-high UN forces Monument. Detailed in Korean and English on the copper plates on the walls are the combat equipment and personnel support provided by the UN nations, and rolls of honor containing all the names of the fallen. The Wall of Remembrance for fallen United Nations personnel in the Korean War was built in 2006. The name of every UN soldier killed or missing in action is carved on black marble.

Gamcheon Culture Village – now completely transformed thanks to ‘Art Factory in Dadaepo’ public projects, the once deserted houses and alleys around Gamcheon 2-dong, Saha-gu have been reborn as cultural arts spaces such as the Town History Gallery, Book Cafe, and so on.

BEXCO is an international convention center with an exhibition hall three times larger than a soccer field, a multi-purpose hall and an outdoor exhibition area, which are used for events and international conferences.

Busan Cinema Center is an official venue of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) –one of the most popular film festivals in Asia—and has become a symbol of the festival itself.

From an architectural perspective, the center is a historic work that embodies the theories of deconstructivism while exhibiting a sense of formative beauty. The center’s ‘Big Roof’ is the largest roof in the world (2.6 times larger than a soccer field) and comes complete with 42,600 LED lights, which help create an unforgettable scene along with Suyeong River and Naru Park.

The Cinema Center consists of 3 buildings: Cine Mountain, Biff Hill, and Double Cone. The main building, Cine Mountain, has 3 theaters for screening movies and one performing arts theater, called ‘Haneulyeon,’ featuring the world’s best stage performances. Busan Cinema Center is said to be the first culture complex worldwide to combine movie theaters and a performing arts center in one building.

The final stop in the South Korea journey was the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

The DMZ is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea which runs along the 38th parallel north. It was created as part of the Korean Armistice Agreement between North Korea, the People's Republic of China, and the United Nations Command forces in 1953.

It is 250 kilometres (160 miles) long, approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) wide and, despite its name, is the most heavily militarized border in the world.

Both North and South Korea maintain peace villages in sight of each other's side of the DMZ. In the South, Daeseong-dong is administered under the terms of the DMZ. Villagers are classed as Republic of Korea citizens, but are exempt from paying tax and other civic requirements such as military service.

Panmunjeom is the site of the negotiations that ended the Korean War and is the main center of human activity in the DMZ. The village is located on the main highway and near a railroad connecting the two Koreas.

During the trip, the Korean people extended warm hospitality to the participants of the conference, who also enjoyed folk music and dances and tasted Korean national dishes.

Orkhan Karimov


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