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Seoul’s Design Aims Gain Unesco Recognition
The city of Seoul was earlier this year officially appointed a ‘Creative City For Design’ by Unesco, in recognition of its ongoing achievements in the design industry at home and abroad. The UN designation comes during a year when Seoul is also promoting its creative endeavors as ‘World Design Capital 2010’, in recognition of local government and industry efforts to foster creative growth in the interests of environmental sustainability, the needs of ordinary citizens, and the development and promotion of Korean culture worldwide.

As a member of the Creative Cities Network, Seoul will enjoy a number of benefits. Among them, it now has permission to use the Unesco logo (pictured below) indefinitely in the promotion of its many programs and events in accordance with Unesco regulations. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has expressed its intention to use the logo extensively to further strengthen the brand value of the city, currently in 33rd place on the Anholt-GfK Roper City Index, an annual market research study that measures the global image of cities worldwide. Such usage includes incorporating the Unesco logo into design assets whose traditions stretch back 600 years to further attract tourism and promote the capital as a leading culture and design city.

Other benefits include Seoul being able to promote its design assets and cultural programs through the official Unesco website, and its participation in various UNESCO activities aimed at developing international networks and exchanges of information among members. Locally, the partnership will help Seoul further develop ‘Cultural Creativity’ through fostering creative talent, increasing ways for citizens to participate in cultural development via a variety of activities, and supporting the local design industry.

In September of this year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Korean National Commission for Unesco on joining the Unesco Creative Cities Network and implementing various cooperative programs.

The 2nd Forum of the Unesco Creative Cities Network was held a month later with members discussing the theme of ‘Regenerating Cities Through Culture’, exploring ways in which both creative cities and local economies can benefit from the development of local cultural elements.

Unesco, created to foster international collaboration through education, science and culture in the interests of peace and security, appoints creative cities in 7 distinct fields: design, literature, music, film, crafts and folk art, media arts, and gastronomy. The organization recognized Seoul’s abundant cultural heritage and creative potential, appointing it a city of design. In 1997, Unesco dubbed Changdeokgung, a 15th century royal residence located in downtown Seoul, a World Heritage Site, citing it as one of the world’s best-preserved palaces. More recently, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) made the Han River Renaissance Project, an ongoing endeavor to rejuvenate the ecosystems of the city’s major waterways, an official UN case study in sustainable urban development.

Speaking during Seoul’s appointment in July, local mayor Oh Se-hoon said his government would strive to reinforce and build upon Seoul’s design image through a variety of activities as a member of the Unesco Creative Cities Network. “The designation as the Unesco Creative City for Design indicates international appraisal and support for Seoul’s design administration,” he said.

Unesco has selected 25 Creative Cities since the initiative began in 2004. Other members include Berlin, Montreal and Shanghai.

The Seoul Tourism Organization is a joint public/private venture launched by the city and private enterprise in February 2008 with a core mission to promote Seoul as a convention and tourism destination. The Seoul Convention Bureau, a division of the STO, represents Seoul’s meetings industry and business tourism interests.