Yolo Galmaegil, a cultural value promotion project manifested through urban trails
1. Busan and culture
Busan is the second city and the busiest international trade port and marine logistics city in Korea with 3.35 million of population. It has geopolitical advantages being surrounded by mountains, oceans, rivers, and beaches also being equipped with skyscrapers, new towns and industrial areas as well as well-known cultural content. While keeping major facets and traces of the modern history, Busan has numerous historic sites and monuments. The goal of Busan’s cultural policies is to reshape a culture-centered city, including building an aspiring high class cultural and artistic city where art is embedded in everyday life and where digital technologies lead to content creation.
While the pandemic transformed everyday life and posed challenges to engaging in cultural life, it also led to shift from closed urban spaces to open natural environments. The Galmaetgil trails offer relaxing and revitalizing experiences and bring attention to local cultural content in a low carbon and eco-friendly environment in the midst of the pandemic. The current era is seeing issues of family estrangement, miscommunication between generations, and lack of communication between neighbours. Therefore, the project provides a platform where families and neighbours can turn everyday activities into cultural engagement by making inconvenient trails safe and comfortable.
A walking culture has been strengthened with citizens’ active participation in practice of daily walking. The initiative is at a turning point, expanding from culture service project into cultural diversity and human rights agendas, in line with the Agenda 21 for Culture and the UN 2030 Agenda, including in particular SDG 3 (healthy lives and wellbeing for all at all ages); SDG 11 (inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities); and SDG 13 (urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).
The Galmaetgil trails offer relaxing and revitalizing experience and bring attention to local cultural content in a low-carbon and ecofriendly environment.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The Galmaetgil trails aims at offering relaxing and revitalizing experiences and bring attention to local cultural content in a low carbon and eco-friendly environment, making Busan a walkable green smart cultural city and promoting cultural values.
2.2. Project development
The following ten key tasks have been set and implemented, together by citizens, private organizations, and all levels of municipal divisions including Gu and Gun:
1. Resolving blocked and disconnected pedestrian ways and securing walking continuity.
Building urban walking trails, promoting daily walking on trails for exercise, expanding crosswalks, and constructing the Nakdong River pedestrian bridge.
2. Raising pedestrian safety for the mobility vulnerable.
Creating walking environment improvement districts and pedestrian prioritized roads, maintaining pedestrian dense areas, and improving environments in school zones.
3. Promoting easy daily walking practices for citizens.
Creating easily accessible trails in local neighborhoods, administrative town roads and conducting an ongoing project of building Urban Green Forest Networks.
4. Building attractive and delightful trails.
Building urban trails, themed roads, the Suyeong River Pedestrian Bridge and Galmaetgil into international brands.
5. Expanding a pedestrian culture for all.
Hosting various events including walking events for citizens, operating a civil working group, promoting a walking day every month, operating Galmaetgil Information Lounge and promoting a pedestrian culture through various media channels.
6. Presenting Busan’s unique history and stories.
Creating trails that have histories and stories including the Refugee Historical Trail, the Geochilsanguk Historical Trail, the Peace and Youth Cultural Trail and the Old Railway Trail.
7. Producing an environment for mental and physical relaxation during the pandemic.
Reorganizing ten courses to highlight the cultural aspect of Galmaetgil that facilitates mental and physical relaxation and enjoyment of nature in a tech savvy era and recommending different courses depending on age groups (YOLO Galmaetgil).
8. Performing art-based projects to raise awareness of the climate crisis.
The project, which exhibits arts created by recycling waste gathered from shore, has broadened the public engagement of arts, i.e. highlighting the importance of environment protection, through upcycling arts that find and recreate value in abandoned junk.
9. Running tour programs for low carbon eco-cultural experience.
In efforts to save energy for green growth, modes of transportation have been diversified (developing renewable energy automobiles, increasing in the number of bicycle paths, etc).
10. Operating governance aligned with civil organizations and non-profit organizations.
Participation of citizens with the designation of a monthly walking day, the hosting of walking events, and promotion of the trails through communication through social networks.
Pursuing a walking city has become a global trend.
3.1. Direct impacts
The initiative has made a tremendous impact on the city and its citizens, changing the urban paradigm from automobile to pedestrian, and empowering the local economy. Pursuing a walking city has become a global trend. The success of the 2019 Asia Trail Conference inspired innovation in walking led by Busan ushering in the era where walking becomes a main mode of mobility.
The city has established a community-based walking environment by providing town-level daily walking infrastructure with citizen participation programmes and more cooperative projects with the private sector. To build appealing ways with themes, the city has also created Busan themed roads and streets without cars. In the process of disseminating a pedestrian culture and realizing a healthy city, Galmaetgil is a medium to encourage citizens’ participation and collaboration with the private sector.
Based on lessons learned, Busan has introduced an evaluation process to improve the outcome of planned projects. The government has developed an annual evaluation system for active and consistent implementation, according to three sectors: Galmaetgil management and operation, pedestrian environment improvement, and urban environment maintenance. This allows to identify best practices, narrow new policies and recognise wellperforming organizations. Public satisfaction of pedestrian environments has been enhanced every year as it has been surveyed and managed through the Busan Social Survey.
The City of Busan has set up 35 subprojects in five sectors and a plan to set aside a large amount of budget for the cultural-value promotion project. For the plan to build the walk-friendly city Busan, a total budget of 1.1625 trillion won has been allocated and 438.6 billion won was already used between 2019 to 2021. For the workforce, a task force team was set in 2018 and then expanded into the Walk-Friendly City Promotion Division. A civil working group of experts, civil organizations, and academia was set up to provide advice for pedestrian policies and included the active participation of citizens. Since the implementation of the project in 2019, the city enacted “the Bill of Pedestrian Rights” for the first time in the nation.
Since the implementation of the project in 2019, the city enacted "The Bill of Pedestrian Rights" for the first time in the nation.
4. Further information
Busan was a candidate for the fifth “UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award” (February 2022 – 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 Choo Chang-sik, Director of Walk-Friendly City Promotion Division, Busan Metropolitan City, Republic of Korea.
Contact: accio (at) korea.kr