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Seoul World Mayors Forum 2005 will host mayors of 60 nations "Over the years, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has made every effort to transform Seoul into a people-friendly cultural city, for example by restoring the ecology of CheongGyeCheon, planting Seoul Forest, revamping Seoul Plaza and South Gate Plaza, and establishing a revolutionary new public transport system," said Kwon Yeong-Gyu, chief of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Seoul City, in an interview with this magazine. He added, "We will announce our soaring ambition, 'Cultural Vision Seoul 2015' this October, and to this end many scholars, experts, public officials, and citizens have participated in the establishment of this longterm plan."
Entering the 21st century, many of the world's top cities are investing a lot of money in developing and preserving the culture of their cities, so that they can be globally competitive. In Asia, cities like Beijing, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Singapore, not to mention other major cities in Europe and America, are redoubling their efforts to promote their cultural image for the sake of the sustainable growth of their cities. They are building large-scale opera houses and symphony halls, and fostering a variety of art genres including a symphony orchestra. As mentioned above, in the past several years Seoul has also been implementing cultural projects toward transforming itself into a world-class city.
In order to raise Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra to the world-class level, maestro Jeong Myung-hun was invited as conductor, while improving the skills of its members, and Nodeulseom [island] in the Han River is being transformed into a stunning performing arts center. Among all these efforts, the most memorable landmark is the CheongGye-Cheon Restoration project.
The restoration of Cheonggye Stream is the restoration of both Seoul history and Seoul culture. The history of the Joseon Dynasty will once again be revealed to the citizens of Seoul. The unsightly concrete covering the CheongGyeCheon during the development period of Korea's contemporary industrial history has disappeared and in its stead a stream will appear, filled with ecological and cultural wonders. Seoul also has plans to build CheongGyeCeon Cultural Hall here, exhibiting historical materials gathered during the excavation, and giving citizens and visitors an environmentally- friendly cultural education. In addition, two waterside performing arts centers and 10 small outdoor performance stages will be built to make the stream reflect Korea's fascinating traditional culture all year round. Seoul is a city with a 5,000-year-old history. It was a capital of the Joseon Dynasty for about 500 years, and its origin traces back to the ancient history of Korea. Seoul is a time-honored city filled with numerous cultural assets such as various palaces, historical ruins, and monuments as well as traditional cultures including court culture and elite society's culture. Seoul has many impressive places where people can experience these old traditional cultures.
Meanwhile, over the years Seoul
Metropolitan Government has performed cultural exchange activities with many well-known cities all over the world, while making cultural exchange treaties with them. In particular, the "Seoul World Mayors Forum 2005" will be held from September 30 to October 1. About 500 persons including city mayors and experts from 60 countries are expected to participate in this meeting, thus providing the opportunity to present Seoul's culture to the world and open a new chapter in global cultural exchanges.
While announcing "Culture Vision
Seoul 2015" next month, Seoul will present a variety of colorful activities this fall. It will hold Chuseok Festival on the occasion of the Korean thanksgiving ceremony on Sept. 17-19, presenting the music festival in commemoration of the CheongGyeCheon restoration on Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, while visitors can enjoy the "Seoul Drum Festival 2005" from Oct. 7 through 9 and the spectacular Fireworks Festival on Oct. 22. Besides these attractions, many other cultural activities are awaiting Seoul citizens and visitors during the coming autumn months.