By Park Chung-a
Kyonggi Province will develop a multi-complex showbiz village called "Hallyu-wood" to expand the current popularity of Korean culture sweeping Japan, China and Southeast Asia.
"We will turn 990,000 square meters of land in the city of Koyang in Kyonggi Province, northwest of Seoul, into an Asian show-business hub that will be capable of matching Hollywood in the United States," said Governor Sohn Hak-kyu, at a news conference in Seoul on Monday.
"Hallyu-wood" is a term invented by the local government, a word compound made up of "Hallyu", meaning the popularity of Korean culture abroad, and Hollywood.
Since last year, the local government has been pursuing the development of Koyang city as a tourism-culture complex by establishing hotels and "legoland", an amusement park based on a Lego theme. However, since officials from various sectors pointed out the importance to the national image of promoting Hallyu, the government changed its plan and decided to make the site into a large-scale cluster demonstrating the essence of Korean pop culture.
The complex will have facilities allowing visitors to experience Korean cultural trends and products representing Hallyu. It will have a street dedicated to Hallyu stars such as Bae Yong-joon
, Choi Ji-woo
and Kim Nam-ju, featuring hotels, restaurants and beauty product shops under their names. Souvenir shops will also sell products featuring their images.
Korea's ubiquitous network, which allows connection to the Internet from anywhere, will also be applied to the village, demonstrating the nation's strength as an IT power. One example of its use; visitors can have their favorite star guiding them via cell-phone.
Various cultural performance halls, theme parks, entertainment agencies, arts schools, venture start-ups, sets for shooting dramas and films, and cultural research institutes will also be encouraged to settle here, according to officials.
According to Sohn, Hallyu-wood will be completed by 2008 with an investment of 2 trillion won ($1.95 billion).
Sohn explained why the province is so appropriate as a world-class showbiz hub, pointing out the convenient transportation network and environmentally friendly policies. Its proximity to Inchon International Airport, Kimpo Airport, as well as the Han River and Ilsan Lake Park are also selling points.
In addition, the complex is also close to Korea International Exhibition Center (KINTEX), which will open on Apr. 29, the largest of its kind in Northeast Asia. Digital Media City, a municipal development project for digital cultural content and information technology carried out by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in cooperation with SBS TV network in Ilsan, is also close by in Sangamdong, northern Seoul.
Various cultural attractions such as Heyri Cultural Art village, Paju Publishing Town, Paju English village, the LCD complex of LG. Philips and the DMZ
(Demilitarized Zone) are also within driving distance.
Kyonggi Province is to receive opinions from the public regarding the construction of Hallyu-wood through Internet portal sites such as Daum, Paran, Soribada and Sayclub.