Gwangju & Jeollanam-do Gwangju Introduction


[ Gwangju ]

Gwangju Introduction
Gwangju Metropolitan City is the sixth largest city in South Korea and is the major city in the South Jeolla Province. The city is divided into five districts namely the Buk, Dong, Gwangsan, Nam, and Seo District. Gwangju River flows through the center of the city and the dominant Mudeung Mountain stands high at the city’s eastern edge.With a population of 1.5 million, Gwangju is the economical, political, educational, and cultural center of the Honam (Jeolla) Region. It is home to the Gwangju and South Jeolla government offices, major businesses, regional headquarters, and the high court of justice and local tax services. It is also the growth center of the region.

Gwangju: The City of Light

As shown in its name-‘Gwang’ meaning ‘light’ and ‘ju’ meaning ‘city’: Gwangju has always played a role of being the light in the history of Korea. Gwangju endured both major occasions in modern Korean history: the 1929 Gwangju Student Independence Movement and the 1980 May 18th Gwangju Democratic Movement. In the 1929 Movement, students fought against the Japanese colonialist rule in defense of justice, democracy, human rights, and freedom while the May 18th Movement, citizens, once again, sacrificed their lives in which they rose up against Chun Doo-hwan’s illegal military dictatorship. Gwangju’s struggle in preserving human rights and securing development in democracy have been recorded in Korean history. A national cemetery and the day of commemoration (May 18), along with acts to compensate and restore honor to victims, have since been established.To cherish the Spirit of the May 18th Democratic Movement, every year since 2000, the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Special Award has been given to people who work towards the improvement of human rights in the world. Recipients include Xanana Gusmão, president of East Timor’s National Council of Timorese Resistance; Malalai Joya, an Afghanistan female politician; and Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s pro-democracy activist. In addition, Gwangju, a human rights city, has hosted the World Human Rights Cities Forum since 2011. It has invited thousands of renowned human rights experts, activists, and public officers along with regular citizens from all around the world to the birthplace of Korean democracy. Such efforts and dedications by Gwangju, the City of Light, will shine its light over all Korean and global citizens.

Gwangju, a Cultural Hub City of Asia

Gwangju is also regarded as a city rich in culture and arts; and there are always ongoing exhibitions and performances, which make the city vibrant and colorful. Every two years, the Gwangju Biennale features a two-month contemporary art exhibition that invites international and local artists to display their work, based around a central theme, seeking to open up new vistas of design culture. The Gwangju Design Biennale is held from September to November in odd-numbered years. Gwangju also continues to host the annual Gwangju World Kimchi Festival before the winter season, which promotes the varieties of delicious kimchi and traditional Korean culture. Moreover, since 2005, the city has staged the Jeong Yul-seong International Music Festival, celebrating such musicians as Gwangju-born composer Jeong Yul-seong.

The Korean national government initiated a grand culture project “Gwangju, A Cultural Hub City of Asia,” to forge cultural ties and establish a forum of exchange with the various countries of Asia and to enhance the overall quality of life of the Asian community by transforming Gwangju into a culture city of novel concepts. The project aspires to see the creation of a forum where all Asians can share and exchange the precious cultural assets of the continent. The Asia Culture Center is the main facility of Gwangju as the Hub City of Asian Culture, which is expected to serve as a stage upon which creative energies of Asians in the sphere of arts and culture can lead towards sources of new creativity and mutual inspiration. The site was completed in 2014 and officially opened in September 2015. Additionally, a sustained diversified project to remodel the city of Gwangju as a culture city will continue until 2023. The representatives hope to preserve the traditional cultures of Asia and at the same time play an important role in the creation, distribution and commercialization of a wide variety of culture.As an international city, Gwangju successfully held the World Summer Universiade in July 2015, and will additionally host the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships in 2019.

Gwangju District Offices:

Buk-gu (North District):
Dong-gu (East District):
Nam-gu (South District):
Seo-gu (West District):
Gwangsan-gu (Gwangsan District):
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