Cheonan dreams to build Korean Ivy League university town
Anseo-dong is especially notable for having five universities in its area. The gathering of five universities in a small district of a province, other than in the Seoul metropolitan area, is unprecedented, even amongst other metropolitan cities around the world.
The Cheonan university town was not built in a day. At the time of the establishment of the first university, less than a hundred households were residing in Cheonan-si. However, starting with Dankuk University, more universities such as Hoseo University, Baekseok Culture University, and Sangmyung University have been established. Accordingly, the population of Cheonan-si has continuously grown to the extent of six hundred fifty thousand. On top of that, forty-eight thousand students attend campuses in Anseo-dong, which is 6 times the number of the residents.
With so many universities located closely with each other, competition as well as cooperation among them is animated. The universities compete to cultivate enterprise-customized individuals aiming at employment by the nearby companies such as Samsung Electronics, Samsung Display, and Cooperatives of Hyundai Motors.
On the other hand, exchange programs among universities are lively. During the summer and winter school programs, students are able to apply for lectures from other universities and invite professors from other universities to take special lectures. Universities have also established a system to share research facilities and are conducting more active research activities together. Moreover, the five universities in Anseo-dong signed a joint agreement 11 years ago to share mutual materials from university libraries, which is similar to that of the Ivy League in the US.
Students from different universities have also created club unions that hold regular festivals, assemblies, and academic seminars. The members of the association of college clubs co-host the “University Art Festival” to transform Anseo-dong into a place where romance and dreams coexist.
Naturally, the boundaries of universities and villages are obscure in Anseo-dong. From cafes and restaurants near Cheonhoji to marathon courses, bridges, basketball courts in Anseo-dong, all public and private facilities are always crowded with residents and college students.
Cheonan-si has been pushing for a project to turn Anseo-dong into a “collegians’ street” since 2019. Park Sang-don, mayor of Cheonan-si says, “Anseo-dong is the only university village in the world and it has formed a unique culture.” Meanwhile, efforts from the mayor and the government to vitalize Cheonan’s university town are ongoing.
[61st edition of Weeklymonday / June 14, 2021]
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