Why no industrial museum?

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Why no industrial museum?

 BAEK IL-HYUN
The author is an industry 1 team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

“Korea has grown from the ruins of war to one of the top ten economies in the world, but there is no industrial museum highlighting the industries that led that economic growth. The Seoul Metropolitan Government, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the central government and companies must work together to establish an industrial museum.”

In a meeting Monday with Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon, a delegation from the KCCI made the proposal. But the city government showed a lukewarm response. “It is unfortunate that there is no industrial museum representing the country. But this should be created by the government. Seoul will cooperate once the government and industries work out the details,” said a city official.

The reluctant reaction is due to the history of failure over the establishment of an industrial museum. Eight years ago, the government planned to build a national industrial and technology museum costing over 1 trillion won ($843.2 million) at a 200,000 square-meter site in Yongsan. In September 2013, Ulsan, not Seoul, was chosen as the site for the museum because “Ulsan is the symbolic city for the industrialization that accelerated Korea’s modernization.”

The local community was eager — with signatures from 300,000 citizens — and former president Park Geun-hye also made a campaign promise to award the project to the city for the voters. The city of Ulsan decided on the construction site. If it went as planned, the construction would have been completed by 2020.

But research on the preliminary feasibility of the project resulted in a reduction in the budget and size. In the end, the project was scrapped. However, Ulsan hasn’t given up.

In the meantime, a few small museums popped up. Last month, the Seoul Metropolitan Government opened the G Valley Industrial Museum commemorating 60 years of the Guro Industrial Complex, which is considered the first industrial museum in Korea. Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motors and Lotte Confectionary also have museums.

But they are not attracting public attention. Most people don’t know they exist. It’s a long way until they become an attraction like the Henry Ford Museum in the U.S., which is visited by tourists from all over the world.

At year’s end, business giants release PR documents praising their contributions to society. When they engage in so many projects for the public, why can’t they help make a museum? Some say that the quality of museums in a country tells the level of its culture. How about in Korea?


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