Children Go Out and Play in Jeju Villages!

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Interview with a culture designer – Kim Chang, Jeju Bakkeori Cooperative
Date of report: November 15, 2016 (Interviewed in September 2016)
Culture reporter: Kang Gwi-woong

“I believe that a happy child grows into a happy adult, who will eventually raise even happier children.” His words came out slowly with a serious look on his face, in the midst of the interview that had by then continued with an endless stream of laughter and comfort. Those words were powerful probably because they represent his ‘dream’, the driving force of what he had pursued. This is part of the interview with Kim Chang (aged 34), a member of the Jeju Bakkeori Cooperative, who dreams of local villages growing happy children and enriching Jeju as a whole as a result.

When hearing ‘the Jeju Bakkeori Cooperative’, you may wonder what a bakkeori means. To understand its meaning, you should first understand the placement of the buildings in local traditional residences of Jeju. When entering a local traditional residence through jeongnang (three wooden bars that are placed horizontally to serve as the main gate of a house), you can see the main building and an additional one. The main building is called ankkeori, while the other referred to as bakkeori. Parents inhabit in the ankkeori, and the bakkeori is where their married son lives with his own family. In other words, one residence is for thoroughly individual, separated lives of two different generations, as if the small-sized bakkeori is leased for the younger generation. It is indeed a unique residential feature of Jeju.

The Jeju Bakkeori Cooperative utilizes this special residential element of Jeju. Offering a unique type of accommodation for visitors, the members of the Cooperative seek cultural dissemination and local satisfaction based on the philosophy of sharing, communication, and mutual growth.

“Playing in Jeju, feeling its nature, and encountering others… Aren’t these what people want from Jeju? All these are possible in the villages of Jeju. But not many people know this. On top of that, visitors to Jeju who bring their children often lack the ability to have a stress-free mind, which is necessary to enjoy their leisure time and be refreshed on vacation. I wish they could have some relaxing moments, while their children experience the local atmosphere and have fun in the villages of Jeju. This is what I want to achieve through the Jeju Bakkeori Cooperative.

Kim used to work as a speech therapist and run psycho-motor programs for more than 11 years. It has been three years since he quit his job and migrated to Jeju. He had first planned to stay in Jeju for only three years, but he is now thinking of extending his stay. This is because he wants to share his dream and joyfulness with children. Currently, he designs and runs a program where children stay in a local house run by the Jeju Bakkeori Cooperative for a week and get to experience the local vibe of Jeju and its villages.

Kim said he dreams of passing on his happy childhood to other children. He has been living his dream and fixating on the idea of ‘what is left behind’ in Jeju. “I like connecting people. Children are also members of this society, as well as ‘people’ with their own personalities. I have high hopes for serving as a bridge to connect children healthily and connect people as always in Jeju.”

New buildings are constructed day after day in Jeju with an incessant influx of new migrants. However, the value of Jeju lies in its ‘authenticity’. Aren’t we also supposed to protect the value of ‘what’s left behind’ and focus on the sustainability of Jeju? Kim has continuously dreamed of ‘interacting with children’ in the villages of Jeju. Jeju, where his dreams can come true, and Jeju, which will support his dream, might present us the image of true sustainability and valuable future.