Jinju City is a mid-sized city with an area of 712.96㎢ and a population of 360,000. It belongs to Gyeongsangnam-do, a province in the southeast of South Korea. The western part of Gyeongsangnam-do, where Jinju is located with Sancheong and Hamyang, is an economically disadvantaged area due to slow industrialization compared to the eastern part of Gyeongsangnam-do, where Changwon and Gimhae are located. Even in the midst of industrial downturn, the western part of Gyeongsangnam-do, including Jinju, has successfully preserved the academic and cultural traditions of south-eastern part of Korean peninsula and its own identity.
The city was the location of the first (1592) and second (1593) sieges of Jinju by Japanese forces during the ImjinWarin1592. Morerecently, asaresult of being the battlefield of the Korean War in the 1950s, the historicall and scape of Jinju was seriously damaged except for the Jinju Fortress. However, the city has well-preserved cultural assetsin the field of craft sand folk arts and a beautiful naturescenery.
Jinju is the center of education in Gyeongnam region. Public schools were established 1,000 years ago and modern primary education began in 1895, and the city has about 100,000 student population and six universities.
Human and civil rights are central to Jinju’s history. Having experienced historical events such as the Siege of Jinju (1592-1593) and the Jinju Peasant Revolt (1862), and having given birth to the youth and social equality movements of the 1920s, its people have long known the value of peace and human rights.
In recent years, an innovative city has been built in Jinju, and the transfer of public institutions such as LH Korea Land and Housing Corporation has brought a new economic vitality. In addition, a plan to build a national aerospace industrial complex in Sacheon and Jinju has been established. However, Jinju believes that the industrialization of the city is not enough to be a sustainable city, and that Jinju developing as an industrial city should not undermine the original identity of Jinju as a cultural city.
The mayor of four year-term is elected directly by citizens. It takes three and half hours from Jinju to Seoul by train and bus. Jinju has Sacheon airport which is connected to the international airlines.
Jinju is one of Korea’s leading cities of arts and culture. The country’s foremost professional arts group ‘Sotdaejaengi-nori troupe’ and the most famous traditional arts school of Gyeongsang region were located here. It’s a city where traditional songs and dances have been handed down through the generations. Jinju has produced many popular music composers and singers. Many artists have started their career through the Gaecheon Arts Festival.
The citizens of Jinju always have cherished their traditional folk arts. They have restored several cultural heritages, which have been once disappeared due to the historical context, and registered them as intangible cultural assets of Gyeongsangnam-do. Jinju Ogwangdae (traditional masked dance and drama of Jinju) and Sotdaejaenginori(Itinerant Troupe Performance) are good examples of such activities. In the folk arts field, Jinju’s cultural assets comprise two items of National Intangible Cultural Heritage (including Jinju Samcheonpo Nonga kwhich has also been designated by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity) and five items of Gyeongsangnam-do Intangible Cultural Heritage. A traditional Korean circus, Sotdaejaengi-nori will also be designated as National Intangible Cultural Heritage. Currently, a total of 47 organizations are activein the performing arts industry.
Traditional crafts are strong in Jinju. In the crafts field, cultural assets include three items of Gyeongsangnam-do Intangible Cultural Heritage, including wooden furniture-making, ornamental knife-making, metal crafts-making, as well as Jinju’s silk industry which has 1,000 years of history. There are 185 manufacturers practicing traditional crafts and 54 enterprises in silk industry.
It is also the birthplace of Korea’s tea culture, and tea remains part of everyday life here. In Jinju, the arts of upper class and arts of the people are handed down from generation to generation. Especially, many traditional dances are preserved as intangible heritage. Jinju is also renowned for its silk products. It produces 70% of the nation's silk products.
Based on these cultural assets, Jinju has developed its creative tourism industry by holding 10 festivals every year; these include the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival, Jinju Mask Dance & Drama Festival and Jinju Silk Fair.
In the folk arts field a number of contests and festivals are held annually. These include the Town Pungmul Contest (2014- ), where competitors play and dance to farmers’ music; the Gaecheon Arts Festival (1949- ), which hosts contests in folk arts, literature and art; the Jinju Nongae Festival(2002-), held to honor a heroine (Nongae) of the Siege of Jinju and led by folk arts performances from women; and the Jinju Mask Dance & Drama Festival (1996- ) where Asian traditional and original mask dances are performed.
The Jinju Craft Arts Festival (2008- ) provides opportunities to experience traditional woodwork and metalwork crafts, as well as other crafts for daily life. The Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival (2000-) celebrates lantern craft works, some of which are exported to the U.S. and Canada, and is famous for being the most beautiful night festival in Korea. Millions of people visit Jinju during the festival.
From 2013 onwards the city of Jinju began to cooperate with local academics in developing and sharing a vision of Jinju as a creative city. The city of Jinju recognizes the importance of sustainable urban development, so municipality and civil society have been collaborating in designing the “Creative City Jinju Promotion Plan” to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Jinju is endeavouring to establish a new city model to be recognized as a creative city by preserving local cultural identity, fostering creative industries based on traditional folk arts and crafts, and seeking cultural diversity, social inclusion and respect for the environment. Thus, Jinju aims at becoming “a city of creativity that embraces history and culture, and cultivates future industries” by promoting a Creative City plan capable to solve the socioeconomic challenges the city is currently facing.
The local government of Jinju is well aware that developing Jinju as an industrial city should not undermine the original cultural identity of Jinju and, moreover, industrialization alone is not the answer to sustainable development; so the Creative City Jinju Promotion Plan aims at expanding Jinju’s full potential to become a creative city considering the four pillars of sustainable development: social inclusion, economic growth, environment and culture.