Friday, July 18, 2008

Muan's "American Town."

Hmm, I need something a little more positive at the top of my page, so let's turn away from grotesque nationalism and instead look at something happening in my own backyard. Jeollanam-do's Muan county is working on developing an "American Town" intended for
overseas Koreans living in the U.S. who wish to spend the rest of their lives in their homeland.

The page is in kind of awkward English, but here's an excerpt:
The American Town faces a calm and beautiful ocean with a backdrop of serene mountains gently enveloping the site, providing a natural and peaceful residential living experience. The entire site will be enhanced with a variety of lifestyle amenities such as golf courses, tennis courts, cycling trails and arboretums including first class residential facilities such as neatly planned and landscaped sidewalks with ample street lighting and intelligent traffic management all surrounded by natural forestry and beautiful landscapes as basic elements.

Shopping and medical facilities will be conveniently planned and the unique historical, architectural and cultural identity of the region will all be masterfully incorporated into the over all design to create a wondrous, world-class living environment .

Conversational English lessons will be provided for regional residents through the services of an Integrated Community Center .

The creation of the American Town complex is currently underway, with basic infrastructure and building foundations being prepared in perfect order.
Lifestyle infrastructures that are difficult to find in existing country housing, such as reliable water works, natural gas, and high-speed communication networks are being prepared to perfection. The development is planned to become a city-styled country residence.

I know what they meant, but I still chuckled when I saw they're building a "welfare office" in American Town. According to the "execution status" page, since December, 2007
Completed registration of 68 overseas Koreans who wish to reside in the American Town

Interestingly there is also an American Town planned for Namhae county, Gyeongsangnam-do, and road signs in that pretty little area already point the way. I couldn't find much online about it, but there is a lot more information available on the German Village there. Take a look at this New York Times article, for starters. An excerpt:
German Village, South Korea, only three years old, is an improbable creation, the product of this nation's shifting needs. In the 1960's and 70's, South Korea, poor and overpopulated, sent thousands of its citizens to work as nurses or miners in West Germany. Today, they and their German spouses are being welcomed back, especially in rural areas whose populations have been decimated by urban migration and declining birthrates.

The authorities here, in Namhae County, took the invitation a step further by carving this village from a mountain facing the sea. They offered cheap land and construction subsidies to any Korean nurse or miner who had lived in Germany for at least 20 years, requiring that they build houses in one of five German architectural models. The village will eventually accommodate up to 75 houses.

So far, the village has drawn a small community of Koreans and some Germans, who may not have ever imagined whiling away their retirement days in a corner of South Korea that is visited by few Koreans, though it is famous for its garlic.

More pictures and information available here via Naver. When I visited with my friends last year they told me it was the filming location for some drama or other. I only found out later that people actually live there, and had I known that at the time I wouldn't have been so . . . gawky, at people's homes.

Deutsches Dorf, Oktober 2007.

Hier und hier sind zwei Artikeln auf einem deutsches Blog über dem Deutschen Dorf auf Namhae, und hier ist weitere Information über Namhae und das "Dogil Maul," der ein Star Wars Charakter ist.


Jamie said...

Honestly, though...

What American is going to uproot their entire family to come to Muan?

Otto Silver said...

It is a little off topic, but still...

I find it interesting how often the letters P and F, as well as R and L, are use in related languages.

I am amusing that "dorf", as in "Deutsches Dorf", means "town"? In Afrikaans, a Germanic languages derived from Dutch, the word is "dorp".

I've seen them and I can't think of other words right now, but it is interesting how we take it for granted that those sounds are distinct from each other.

Brian said...

Jamie, yeah, it's weird, but Muan is the capital of Jeollanam-do, and won't be so small in a few years. I'm not really sure who the village is intended for, though . . . it says Koreans from America, but I don't know if many Koreans would want to come back to Korea and live in Jeollanam-do. I don't think they're talking about Korean-Americans b/c the webpage says they're offering English classes.

Otto Silver, yep, a lot of similarities. I wish I had kept up with German, but i haven't studied it in nearly five years. Dorf is village, I believe, and Burg (or Berg) is town I'm pretty sure.

Ben said...

I'm still waiting for the 호주 해피 프렌드십 village to be set up somewhere round these parts so Judy and I can pass our years there. ;)

Ms Parker said...

Why are they offering conversational English lessons to Korean-Americans?

Jens-Olaf said...

The future perspective for the German village is not promising. The few Germans are almoust people retired from work. The younger generation related to Germany is not looking for a living in Nahmhae, far away from jobs and everything.