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Umbrella of the Citizens
Yoo Kim Juhee  |  smt_jkim@sm.ac.kr
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승인 2013.10.06  14:01:12
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ALL PHOTOS BY KJH

 
 

 

Tired of the heavy rainfalls of hardships that life dishes out?  How about making use of an umbrella?  There is a place willing to be your umbrella.  It’s Seoul’s Citizens Hall.  Citizens Hall, pronounced “Si-min-Chung” in Korean, utilizes the Chinese character Chung meaning “to hear.”  It was built to hear the voices of citizens.  However, it’s now more than just a place that listens to citizens’ voices.  It has become a place of culture, enhancing people’s creativeness.  At the Hall, people can visit exhibitions, relax, contemplate life, or communicate freely with others.

Activity One: Enjoy Exhibitions

   
 

Seoul Citizens Hall offers diverse exhibitions to enhance the consciousness of citizens.  To awaken the  public’s historical sense,   the Hall provides the Relics Permanent Exhibition Hall.  Gungisi1 artifacts and its building foundation were discovered during construction of the new Seoul City Hall and some of the excavated relics are on display in the Relics Exhibition Hall.  Since the historic site is well-preserved in its original form,  citizens can vividly feel the past and take in the craftship of 600 weapons.  Moreover,  Citizens Hall presents Seoul-themed exhibitions that highlight the life of Seoul citizens.  The Cloud Gallery and Citizens Gallery are two of them.  Cloud Gallery uniquely spreads across the celling of the plaza.  Several monitors installed on the ceiling show images of Seoul and its citizens’ daily lives.  The Citizens Gallery also focuses on Seoul citizen themes.  By looking at Seoul and the daily life of Seoul citizens, people are drawn closer to and have a better understanding of each other. There are even displays that require citizen participation.  The Sound Gallery,  Media Wall and City Gallery are three of those.  As the objective of Citizens Hall, its Sound Gallery incorporates citizens’ voices in its displays.  As voices are recorded off microphone stands in the Gallery, the Gallery visualizes them into art.  The Media Wall and City Gallery are places where Seoulites listen to citizens’ thoughts.  Especially, City Gallery has trees upon which citizens can post their stories.  The postings represent citizens’ earnest wishes and hardships, from youngsters to senior citizens.  One post by a person in his/her 20s wrote, “Being in my 20s has definitely not been like living in a period of blooming flowers.  I live in fear as does every other 20~30-year-old.  What lies out there for us?”  These utterances and other voices resonate throughout Seoul City Hall for all to hear.

 

 

 

 

   
 

 

Activity Two: Relaxation

Citizens Hall also has places to lounge and enjoy cultural arts.  To relieve the tired shoulders of its citizens,   the Hall hosts Baseurak and Vitality Concerts.  Baseurak Concerts are heldevery 1st and 2nd Saturday of a month.  Seoul citizens perform for other citizens, and on the 3rd Saturday of a month,  the Concert invites special guests to perform.  A Vitality Concert enhances the vitality of citizen’s lives.  Concert genres include operas, musicals,  pantomimes, magic shows, and so on.  Citizens Hall also provides events that relieve citizens from their financial burdens.  These events include the Sharing House Market and Companion Event.  The Sharing House Market operates on the 2nd weekend (Art Market) and 4th weekend (Daily Necessities Market) of each month, and at the Market, people can buy things they need at affordable prices.  To reduce the financial burden and empty meaningless formalities of a wedding, Citizens Hall is available for rental to newly engaged couples at a reasonable price.  Although the wedding might be small, it is meaningful. 

Activity Three: Enhance Knowledge & Connect

In Seoul Citizens Hall, there is a small library full of books about Seoul and its citizen.  Thebooks are free to read on-site and some may be purchased.  With diverse books for citizens of all ages—fairytales, cartoons, and specialty books—the room empowers people to ponder lifeand enhance knowledge.  The Hall also operates programs and provides places for citizens to freely discuss topics and/or merely chit-chat.  The Policy Café and Sarangbang Workshop are held from time to time toshare citizens’ concerns.  Furthermore, the Citizen Podium is a reserved space for citizens whowant to express themselves on a particular subject.  The Podium was established on the 11th of January 2012 at Chunggye Stream Square and began operations at Citizens Hall on the 12th of January 2013.  Over 800 people have stood on the podium erected in the reserved space andshared their thoughts.  Recently, one person gave a speech about the need for Seoul to ensure the human rights of people living with impairments. 

 

   
 

Of the Citizens, By the Citizens, For the Citizens

 

Seoul Citizens Hall cannot exist on its own.  It needs citizens.  It is impossible to maintain the Hall without much needed participation of Seoulites.  Lots of programs in Citizens Hall are made possible thanks to Seoulites themselves since they provide and enjoy the programs.  The Hall, which was first built to listen to Seoul citizen voices, is now harmonizing its citizens.  The Hall reflects the various lives of Seoulites and is trying to move towards a better Seoul.  Seoul Citizens Hall is a place truly “of its citizens, by its citizens, and for its citizens.” 

 

   
 

 

1 Today's City Hall was once the site of Gungisi, a place for making and storing weapons during the Joseon Dynasty.

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