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Cultural regeneration of S. Korea's industrial heritage Updated: 2022-02-07 07:54:25 KST

A mine filled with deposits of jade, dolomite and talc.
Formerly called Dongyang Mine, the cave was discovered in 1900 and began being developed in 1919 during the Japanese colonial period.
The mine was key in the local area's development during Korea's industrialization, before finally closing in 2018 due to low profitability.
The cave has been turned into a cultural spot where visitors can experience how the mine worked, while enjoying the parts of the cave that have been revived into a unique cultural spot.

"It is not that easy for the public to see where miners worked in the past. Transforming a closed mine into a theme park using a variety of content while showing how it was mined could let the next generation see the past."

"I am here in Jeongseon-gun County in the heart of Gangwon-do Province.
Along the edge of the beautiful Hambaek-san Mountain, cushioned by the snow right now, stands another old mine that has been reborn as an art and culture complex."

Another busy industrial site the Samcheok coal mine helped lead South Korea's rapid industrial growth since its opening in 1964.
After it was shut down in 2001 due to low demand for household coal and the government's policy of closing unprofitable mines, it stayed abandoned for years before it was reborn as the Samtan Art Mine in 2013.
The compressors that provided air for the miners inside the tunnel to breathe still stand decorated with a variety of colors and acting as a background for artwork to shine.

"Some of the young generation do not know much about coal mines, let alone briquettes.
They are surprised to see how historic sites can be revived and used as a cultural complex. We hope such spots that were sources of the energy industry can be developed more while preserving them."

Similar transformations can also be seen in Seoul.
After Korea suffered from its first oil crisis with a major shortage of crude oil in 1973, the government built an oil depot near the Maebongsan Mountain in 1978 to prepare for future emergencies.
For 41 years, it has long been classified as a first-class security facility but as the Seoul World Cup Stadium was built in 2001 for the World Cup, the depot was considered too hazardous, leading it to be closed in 2000.
Its five tanks have now become open culture spaces.

"I believe urban regeneration is alchemy. We cannot redevelop everything but we do need to have important sites be reborn; to let the next generation know the era we went through and for us to look back on that period of time."

"Talc caves, coal mines and oil storage tanks. Once major centers of industrialization, these places might have stayed abandoned forgotten from history.
But now they're alive again producing culture and bearing witness to our changing world.
Efforts like these to preserve and revive the sites will ensure that history is remembered.
Kim Bokyoung, Arirang News."
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