May 13, 2013 by rkpcs
The team have spent an interesting Sunday learning about the concept of Slow Cities. Until now, we had not found much in the way of a laid back pace in the South Korean culture, where generally the way of life is fast paced to the extreme. However, on Cheonsando Island, and other cities designated as Slow Cities in the country, a slower, more relaxed and perhaps more traditional way of life is actively promoted and encouraged.
The team had not come across the concept of Slow City before. It originally emanated from Italy in the 1980’s, and there are now 151 Slow Cities across 24 countries worldwide. Cheonsando Island would have been an ideal candidate for the concept of being a designated slow area, due to the incredible views and environments it has on offer. The island has the world’s first “slow road”, so named due to a myth that anyone who walked the road would have no choice but to do so slowly because of the stunning scenery to be admired en route.
The team have spent the day learning about the way of life, history and myths associated with Cheonsandu island. A variety of goods are grown on the island, including garlic, peppers and rice. The team learned about the manmade drainage system employed on the island, to ensure that water is drawn away from the rice crops and drained effectively without the need for recourse to machinery. The production of abarlones is clearly an important industry for the island’s economy, with abarlone farms being visible all around its shores. The team have also noticed a South Korean tradition of stacking rocks for hope, luck and prosperity which has been visible in a number of areas visited thus far during the exchange. Cheonsandu island was no exception, and at the highest points of the island, this tradition was visible.
The team have found this be a fascinating day, exploring how a more relaxed pace is introduced and promoted within a society where speed is very much of the essence. The team have reflected upon the benefits associated with allowing all individuals some time in their lives for learning, working and relaxing at a slower pace than that of day to day life. Having now spent nearly two weeks on the move and subject to the non-stop traditional Korean fast paced schedule, we have all felt the positive effects of taking the pace down a notch or two to fully appreciate and reflect upon the information we were gleaning about the positive effects of a visit to slow areas such as Cheonsando island whilst enjoying its beautiful natural environment.
We enjoyed an interesting and informative dinner with our Wando Rotarian hosts from the island of Wando, during which we learned about some of the social welfare projects that the area is engaged in, including supporting the education of 3-4 local children from poor families within an island community. We were then driven to our next host district, Gangjin, all ready for the continuation of the adventure tomorrow.