[FOUNTAIN]Urban admiration

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[FOUNTAIN]Urban admiration

"I ♥ NY" means "I love New York." It's a slogan that New York City created. The phrase can be found everywhere in New York, especially where tourist souvenirs are sold. The slogan recently turned up in the media when it was pictured attached to the uniform of a U.S. soldier fighting in Afghanistan. A button the soldier wore signified his love for New York and his resolve to pay back the terrorists who had destroyed the World Trade Center, buildings that symbolized the city.

"I ♥ NY" was created in 1977, when the economy of New York City was at a low point. John Dyson, the head of the commerce department for New York state, conjured up the idea of renovating the image of New York City, which had become known as a city of trash and crimes.

It was an accident that "I ♥ NY" was created. The city did not have a big budget for such an initiative, so Mr. Dyson had to practically beg advertising agencies for help. Curiously, the ad agency staffers gladly offered to help, saying that they did not need to be paid, for they loved New York. The commerce department swiftly decided that it did not need a list of candidates because "I ♥ New York" was clearly the best. The esteemed graphic designer Milton Glaser, who rendered a visual image for the slogan, replaced the word "love" with a red heart, without being paid a dime. After that, a heart symbol was widely accepted throughout the world as a symbol for love.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the slogan underwent a slight change. "I ♥ NY More Than Ever" has become immensely popular. Meanwhile, an "I ♥ NY" button is a symbol for anyone participating in a campaign to help New York. A visitor can feel the power of the slogan, for it binds together city dwellers who make up the most ethnically diverse population anywhere.

Many cities around the world have imitated the efforts of New York. In Asia, Hong Kong made "Asia's World City," which emphasizes that metropolis's image as an international city. For Japan's capital, it's "Yes! Tokyo," which aims to promote an image of hospitality and positivity.

On Monday, Seoul put the finishing touches on its theme, "Hi, Seoul," which was chosen from about 7,000 candidates. "Hi" is a greeting that shows familiarity and sounds the same as "high," which signifies an exalted image and the great pride that inhabitants of Seoul feel.

I would like to compliment Seoul for its resolve, but it must remember that what makes or breaks a city slogan is, after all, good governance.

The writer is a deputy cultural news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Oh Byung-sang

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