Incheon embracing the world – To contribute to restoring world peace
1. Incheon and culture
Incheon is a metropolitan city of Korea, covering 1,066.4 Km2 with a population of over three million. Featuring Korea’s first Free Economic Zone, the city has established excellent industrial and urban infrastructure as well as the world’s renowned international airport and seaport.
As an ethnically diverse city, Incheon implements numerous policies to promote better understanding on different cultures and to embrace immigrants based on its people’s painful experiences as the diaspora in the past. With this, the city aims to enhance its Heritage, Diversity, and Creativity. Incheon also has Korea’s first-ever Museum of Emigration History and is where the local community actively participate in promoting Sustainable Development Goal 16 of Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.
Incheon found it hard to continue its international exchange projects due to the domestic antivirus restrictions and lockdowns in many cities around the world amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, misleading information aggravating racial discrimination and hate crimes against Asians further hinders international exchanges including people-to-people exchange.
Under such circumstances, the city of Incheon decided to produce a documentary film to raise the people’s awareness on Heritage, Diversity, and Creativity of its sister cities in order to overcome challenges in face-to-face diplomacy and mobilize the local community in engaging in international diplomacy, while deepening their cultural understanding, as mutual cooperation has become essential for the world’s coexistence. This project is one way to become a city working towards cultural democracy as stated in the 2020 Rome Charter.
For the purpose of reviving international exchange and boosting understanding on different cultures, the project shocases the story of local residents including inmigrants visiting historical places and famous attractions across the city.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
Incheon designed this project to promote international diplomacy and local residents’ participation while deepening their understanding on Heritage, Diversity, and Creativity of others (commitment 2 of Culture 21 Actions), amid worsening conditions for face-to-face diplomacy as well as racial discrimination and hate crimes triggered by misinformation during the pandemic period. By inviting immigrants and local residents in different cities to participate in documentary production about various cultures, Incheon aims to boost people’s self-esteem as a global citizen and help them better understand each other’s Heritage, Diversity, and Creativity, thereby contributing to advancing into peaceful and inclusive societies (SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) and to establishing a future oriented relationship with one another.
2.2. Project development
In the past, Incheon experienced numerous pains and hardships in a rapidly changing external environment fuelled by the collapse of the East Asian order, Japanese colonial rule and militarism driven by imperialism, and the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, with the help of many cities and countries including Mexico, the United States, and European nations, Incheon was able to achieve remarkable development to become what it is today.
Featuring the world-class Incheon International Airport and seaport, Incheon serves as Korea’s gateway to the world with various international organizations located, becoming home to diverse ethnic groups from all over the world. Incheon, a place where the Korean emigrants left their home to start a long journey to the other side of the world seeking new hope in the early 1900s, is promoting various policies to be a more inclusive city that better understands different cultures based on its people’s painful experiences as the diaspora.
The documentary “Incheon Embracing the World” covers the history of immigrants, life of a Korean-Mexican couple living in Korea, and multicultural families who respect different histories and cultures with historical architectures and cultural elements featured in the background. The film was jointly produced with a local TV station and aired on a local channel on two occasions in May 2022, and it is also available to watch anywhere in the world via a YouTube channel.
Particularly, discussion is underway with Korean students studying abroad, overseas Korean communities, the Korean embassy, etc. to broadcast the film in Merida. The participation of immigrants of the local community in the documentary production is intended to highlight the significance of understanding on other cultures and ethnicities at a time when in-person exchanges are not as active as before, thereby contributing to the establishment of a future-oriented relationship.
This is a participatory documentary film project for mutual prosperity and cooperation among global cities. The single-episode documentary is based on the city of Mérida, Mexico, one of the Incheon's sister cities.
3.1. Direct impacts
By introducing the film through a local TV channel and various official events, this project is expected to help the citizens better understand the immigrants’ cultures and their heritage, diversity, and creativity, boosting people’s self-esteem as global citizens.
Starting with Incheon’s sister cities, the documentary will cover other cities across the world. In the course of the project, more people will participate in promoting understanding on the immigrants in the local community and their cultures.
The project aims to engage the local communities so that they watch the documentary film, and involve them in the production process. Making the film also available on a YouTube channel, the city has reached a wider range of audience. Evaluating viewers’ comments on a local TV channel and YouTube viewership results, the city has reflected on people’s feedbacks and thought of more effective promotional methods to boost a better participation, in order to further upgrade the project as a whole.
3.3. Key factors
One of the key successful aspects was that the project encouraged the residents of Incheon’s sister city and the local communities to participate. The entire process of presenting the history of cooperation and exchange with a sister city, providing access to other culture based on cultural and historical similarities, featuring historical places and buildings, and introducing a multicultural family’s life, effectively drew the interest and a sense of friendliness of the local communities towards others.
Starting with its sister cities, the Incheon city government plans to produce a documentary film about other cities around the world to attract the participation of local residents in improving understanding on other cultures and immigrants in the local society, while highlighting the meaning of cultural exchanges, in order to contribute to achieving SGD 16 and shaping a future-oriented relationship. Discussion with a local TV broadcaster on the next year’s project is ongoing.
By highlighting the significance of international exchanges, the project is expected to contribute to creating more peaceful and inclusive societies.
4. Further information
Incheon was a candidate for the fifth “UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21” International Award (February – June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September 2022, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.
This article was written by Na Ki-un, Director of International Cooperation Division, Incheon Metropolitan City, Republic of Korea.
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