Recently, more than 600,000 Koreans signed an online petition to oppose the construction of the “Korean-China Cultural Town” in Gangwon Province. This resulted in the halt of the project.
In 2019, Gangwon Province and China’s People’s Daily Online agreed to start the project. The agreement was to build a Chinese Cultural Town in Chuncheon and Hongcheon—cities in Gangwon Province, South Korea—covering an area of 1.2 million square meters. It would have been more than 10 times larger than the current largest Chinatown in South Korea, Incheon Chinatown.
The governor of Gangwon Province, Choi Moon-soon, called the project part of the “Cultural Belt and Road Initiative” at the launching ceremony.
However, to Korean citizens, it enhances the influence and dissemination of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) culture in South Korea, under the banner of a cultural tourism exchange.
On March 29, a petitioner initiated an online petition on the Blue House website to cancel the project, stating: “Don’t give China the Korean land. The people of Korea [South Korea] are concerned about losing our own culture, and should confront China’s [the CCP’s] plundering of Korean kimchi, the hanbok, historical figures, and other inherent cultures. People are feeling anxious that their culture will be lost due to China’s Northeast Project; it is getting worse every day.”
By April 28, a month after the petition was initiated, more than 670,000 people had signed. According to regulations, the South Korean government must respond when the number of signatures exceeds 200,000.
Kolon Global Corporation, the construction company responsible for the Korean-China Cultural Town project, issued a notice through the Gangwon government on April 27 that it would conduct a comprehensive review of the project. Some analysts believe that this is equivalent to canceling the project.
In early April, a city official from Gyeonggi Province invited the CCP ambassador to South Korea to an event, where it was announced that a smart farm village project would be built in Pocheon City. The project would include a Confucius Village and a Chinatown.
After the news was exposed, another petition appeared on the Blue House website opposing this project.
The writer of the petition questioned Mayor Park Yoon-guk’s decision to start the project, because it seemed to ignore Koreans’ anti-Chinese (CCP) sentiment following the Gangwon petition. This petition also demanded the withdrawal of the project. As of April 30, the online petition has been signed by more than 32,000 people.
Quickly, Pocheon City officials explained, “At the beginning of the project, it was proposed as one of several ideas, but it was excluded after review.”
“Korean people feel disrespected and anti-China sentiment is rising.”
Ever since the CCP took over China, other than ruining the traditional Chinese culture and distorting Chinese history, the regime has also worked hard to interfere with its neighbors’ culture and history.
Distorting Korea’s Cultural History
The CCP attempted to distort Korea’s cultural history by launching a 2002 research project through its Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS). The publication of this project caused outrage in Korea.
The “Serial Research Project on the History and Current State of the Northeast Borderland,” known as the “Northeast Project,” lasted for five years—from 2002 to 2007.
This project was seriously criticized by both Korean scholars and academicians in other countries. It was viewed as an attempt to distort history and a cultural plundering of Korean history. The project concluded by abandoning what’s recorded throughout the Chinese dynasties and adapting a contemporary vision of ancient history, lacking in academic foundation.
The influence of the project is believed to have been lingering. In fact, many people doubt it ever ended, as one of the Blue House petitions stated.
Korean American civil rights activist Se Hoon Kim explained why Korean citizens, especially young Koreans, have spoken out against the pro-CCP Moon Jae-in (president of South Korea) government.
“This Chinatown project is in compliance with the appeasement policy. The Koreans know this project will lay the foundation for the expansion of the CCP in South Korea and promote Chinese [CCP] nationalism in South Korea. So I’m not surprised that the project [Korean-China Cultural Town] would be canceled. Because, after the dispute over the origin of kimchi and hanbok, our traditional culture, I know that many Koreans felt very violated and disrespected,” he said.
He noted that Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement has won general support from the Korean people. Koreans are sickened by the CCP’s suppression of human rights, he said.
He also pointed out that Koreans know the CCP is trying to manipulate the “One Belt One Road” initiative with the purpose being to influence regional politics and economies in the name of cultural exchanges.