The article did go on to invite Japan and China to suck it:
Korea has five slow cities, but China and Japan, two of Asia’s most-visited tourist attractions, don’t have any.
Twenty cities from these countries have applied for recognition from Cittaslow, but they all failed to make the grade, apparently.
The association said Japanese farming villages don’t have their own character because they are far too developed and organized.
In many of Jeollanam-do's rural communities, it's not like they're preserving slowness and tradition for slowness's and tradition's sake: there are simply no young people and few prospects of modern amenities. Saying that, for example, Jeung-do in Shinan county is a deliberately slow city is like celebrating an obese man for bucking the trend of unrealistic body images in magazines. It reminds me of something I thought a lot about while I was in Vietnam this past January. Tourists were spending lots of money---by Vietnamese standards at least---to visit floating markets and ramshackle villages in the Mekong Delta; I'm sure the locals appreciated the extra money, but I wonder what they thought about people paying to experience what poverty and isolation necessitate. I wonder, too, what the people who live in Jeollanam-do's "slow cities" have to say about this designation. I was going to write that I'm glad to see places in Jeollanam-do getting some attention, but after seeing the way people run rough-shod over the rural flavors of the month on TV, I wonder if it's not better to just leave these communities alone.
Meanwhile, the Korea Tourism Organization plans to offer hands-on experience of slow cities nationwide.
I thought about this, too, in Vietnam, and wondered if locals would be interested in doing something like a rural experience weekend, where they . . . um, experience rural life for a weekend. Koreans have come to render the rural part of their country exotic, to the point of denying it exists to outsiders, though watching tear-jerking commercials tells me there are still flickers of appreciation for it somewhere. Likewise, a popular TV program is all about celebrities acting like fish out of water in remote farming communities. Again, ironic to pay to do what poverty and geography necessitate, but I chuckled to myself that as South Korea is trying its hardest to promote tourism and its local attractions, foreigners from all over the world were paying to boat down a dirty river and take pictures of decrepit shelters and crowded alleys. Anyway, for these communities to stay preserved and protected people have to realize what they do is more important than what they symbolize.