A ‘valley of life’ set to spring ideasOn the long northbound road from Ilsan is located Paju’s huge Unification Park. Within this expanse, plans that were conceived more than six years ago are taking shape.
The novel and slightly shocking idea that artists would come together to live and display their works in a community seemed unrealistic at the time it was born. This idea has taken flight, however, in the form of the soon-to-open Heyiri Art Valley.
The bombination of construction machinery fills the valley. The grasslands that covered nearly half the land have been plowed under, and are being gradually replaced by the houses of the 300 artists, the future residents. Because of heavy construction, Heyiri still looks grubby from dirt and the exposed beams.
Amid the swirls of dust, several of Heyiri’s incoming neighbors wander about. The sculptor, Choi Man-rin, Ssamzie Corp.’s president, Chun Ho-gyun, and the TV announcer, Hwang In-yong, are among the first generation of residents.
The trio’s dreams for Heyiri are all different. Mr. Choi wants to make room for hundreds of new sculptures, Mr. Chun hopes to provide an endless potluck of ideas for his company’s employees. As for Mr. Hwang, he fancies himself living here in a sea of classical music. Despite the incongruity, at the core all three are looking for fresh ground upon which to build new ideas.
The future home of Choi Man-rin will face the cemetery in a nearby park. “I would like to retire here,” he says, “amid my sculptures.”
Ssamzie’s president, Mr. Chun, thought of creating a “strawberry theme park” within the grounds (Strawberry is the name of Ssamzie’s mascot). As his company thrives on creativity, Mr. Chun plans to bring several of his top designers to Heyiri next year and let them loose, hoping the Valley’s vastness will inspire them.
Mr. Hwang, a classical music fan, hopes to gather fellow music lovers, poets, architects and artists and create a music hall, where they can spend their days lolling about, soothed by classical offerings. “Gatherings like these were at the heart of the Renaissance movement,” he says. “I hope my music hall will serve the same purpose.”
Heyiri Valley will be home to artists from different walks of art. Besides the photographer, Bae Byung-woo, Yoon Hoo-myung, a writer, and Hangil Corp.’s president, Kim Un-ho, are awaiting news of their homes from the construction site. Other famous future residents include the movie directors, Kang Woo-suk, Kang Jae-kyu and Park Chan-wook; the singers, Jung Tae-chun and Yun Do-hyun and the musician, Yang Sung-won. They have been gathering monthly at the Village during its Sunset Festival to share dreams, and in the process, have kindled friendships. Around this time next year, the sounds of moving trucks unloading furniture will be heard across the Valley. Along with this noise hopefully will come the sounds of fresh new ideas being bandied about.
by Park Jie-young