Korea Cities Tour: Changwon

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Part 2

The beachside shamanic candle shrines that have been lit in the night for the sea gods are burning down outside my window. It's nearing time for the dawn shouting ceremony in the seaside conifer forest that has been preserved next to my hotel.

Maybe I will partake this morning.  


Yesterday we visted Changwon, which wants to make itself the world's leading "Eco-City." Based in the south-central of South Korea, Changwon is a planned city of 500,000 modeled after Canberra, Australia. Changwon is home to manufacturing facilities or corporate headquarters of Doosan, Samsung and LG Electronics.

The city held a workshop with about 200 public officials and citizens called "International Strategic Workshop for Creating Environmental Capital Changwon" in which I and three others presented. The others were a Finnish Program Officer from UN Environment Program in Bangkok, the leader of the Learning and Ecological Activities Foundation for Children in Nishinomiya, Japan; and  a "social designer" from The Hope Institute in Seoul.

Public officials, including Mayor Wan Su Park spoke, and decried how they need more citizen involvement to succeed in greening the city. Some goals they have are increased public transit (traffic is quite congested as many commute to the city from Busan and other cities), and bicycle ridership (over a glass of sweet persimmon wine the Mayor told me he rides to his office every day and requires other city workers to ride 3 times a week), as well as more innovative approaches to industrial ecology and water management.

Korea is feeling the pain of decreased snowpack runoff, many have told me, with warmer winters limiting the snow season partiallly and even entirely in some mountainous areas. Winter clothing is no longer necessary. Rivers I have seen were close to being dry, and Changwon imports its water from a distant river source.

I've been invited to return to work with the ultra-professional city officials (Mayor Park is a PhD in public administration) and its citizens. I look forward to having Common Current bring the city closer to its goal--with a developed landscape that appeared undistiguished from other areas of Korea I have seen, save for a miles long greenspace of "play parks" running along the freeway and main access road into the city, there appears to be unlimited opportunities for innovation.  

Though I rather doubt Changwon will be building the Mongolian yurts for housing that the UN official showed us in her presentation from Ulan Bator.


In Busan, I lectured to students and professors in the urban design and architecture school at Dong-a University, and we then lunched at a traditonal Korean style restaurant on floor pillows. I was shown plans for a park one of the professors, Seung-Hwan Kim, has been pushing for in Busan for more than ten years. The lack of public open space is beginning to become a major issues in cities like Busan, where each citizen only has about 1.5 square meters versus the national standard of 6 square meters per person.

First light on my last full day in Korea: aaaaaiiiieeeeeeee!

Photo credit: ranna

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About the Author

    Warren Karlenzig
Warren Karlenzig, Common Current founder and president, has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (lead co-author United Nations Shanghai Manual: A Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century, 2011); United Nations Center for Regional Development (training of mayors from 13 Asian nations on city sustainable economic development and technology); provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong, China (urban sustainability master planning and green city standards); the United States White House and Environmental Protection Agency (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations developing policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20 years.

Present and recent clients include the Guangzhou Planning Agency; the Global Forum on Human Settlements; the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the non-governmental organization Ecocity Builders; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations. Read more here.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Warren Karlenzig published on March 13, 2008 11:43 AM.

Korea Green Cities Tour: Halftime Recap was the previous entry in this blog.

Korea Cities Tour: Wrap-up is the next entry in this blog.

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