CHUNCHEON, Gangwon Province -- About half of South Korea’s 51 million people live in Seoul and the surrounding area. What that means is that smaller cities often find themselves taking a backseat for many things including economic opportunities or culture events. They are also losing a lot of young people who look for better opportunities in bigger cities.
While the big cities get most of the attention, there are slow but steady changes emerging in places like Chuncheon, which in this week saw a gathering of social innovators from around the country. The city, known for beautiful scenery and cold weather, is the capital city of Gangwon Province, which hosted the 2019 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Sinn 2019, or Social Innovators Network, which runs from Nov. 27 to Nov. 30 at Chuncheon Social Innovation Park, is the second such gathering after Sinn 2018 last year.
With the theme of “small cities dreaming of social innovation,” the four-day event hosts a series of discussions and exhibitions on social innovations. It also showcases social ventures trying to achieve social impact and financial profits at the same time, and good examples of social innovations.
Chuncheon Social Innovation Park, also known as Common Fields, represents how social innovation could change the local community. The park stood empty for more than a decade after the government procurement service office moved out in the late 1990s after 44 years on the site. It now serves as a co-working place for local startups and an exhibition center that also hosts events.
“Unlike some cases in the West, the government plays an important role in social innovation,” Park Jung-hwan, the head of Chuncheon Social Innovation Park, said. “But the most important thing is the participation by citizens,” Park added.
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)