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  • Danish-born “Little Mermaid’s little sister” crosses the sea to Seoul

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    Although it is only 80cm high, the “Little Mermaid” statue has become a global tourist attraction that brings over 1.5 million visitors to Denmark’s Copenhagen each year, ever since the city was embraced by the Andersen fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”. The Little Mermaid’s “little sister,” which resembles this statue, is expected to be seen by the Hangang (River) in the near future.

    To discuss issue such as this, Mayor Park Won Soon met Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen on August 12. The mayors agreed to exchange commemorative items of each city and signed an MOU on increased cooperation and exchange in a variety of areas, including climate change and government employee exchanges.

    Concerning cultural exchange activities, the main focus of the MOU, both cities agreed to exchange symbolic items that are representative of each city, a suggestion made by Seoul. The city of Seoul, in particular, has invested significant effort to bring over the Little Mermaid statue. As such, a mutual bond between the two cities was already firmly in place. The Little Mermaid statue was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of Carlsberg, the official beer supplier to the Danish royal family, and made by sculptor Edvard Eriksen. It is currently designated as a Danish national treasure.

    Mayor Park expressed his wish for “the 1km-wide, 500km-long Hangang (River), which runs through the center [of Seoul], to be filled with many interesting stories,” and emphasized that “as a part of this goal, if a Little Mermaid statue is brought to Seoul, it will be named the ‘Little Mermaid’s little sister,’ and this story from Copenhagen will become one of the main interesting stories, bringing a world of fun and imagination to our children.”

    As the item representative of Seoul to be given to the city of Copenhagen, the “Bosingak bell” and “sinmungo” are currently the top candidates. The Seoul Metropolitan Government hopes that this agreement to share the Little Mermaid statue is the first step toward expanding exchanges of other landmark structures/sculptures with cities all over the world. Plans are currently being made to create cultural spaces in streets, parks, and other places throughout Seoul based on the stories and cultural themes of the world’s great cities.

    • Little Mermaid statue
    • Structural art in Odense
    • A playground structure in Denmark
    • A building inside the Andersen Museum in Odense

    <Exchange of model policies from Copenhagen, the leading “green city,” revitalizes climate and environment policy exchange >

    Like Copenhagen, Seoul is also a member of the C40, an international body of world-class cities committed to addressing climate and environment-related issues. As such, Seoul plans to strengthen exchanges on climate and environmental issues with Copenhagen, which was selected as a “European Green Capital” by the EC (European Commission) in 2014.

    The two cities will share their respective model policies, including Copenhagen’s “CPH 2025” and Seoul’s “One Less Nuclear Plant”, as well as strengthen their exchange of personnel. CPH 2025 is a mid to long-term plan that aims to neutralize carbon emissions by 2025, and its key projects include converting from burning fossil fuels to using biomass and wind power and significantly reducing energy consumption in all buildings by 2025, with heating reduced by 25 percent and electricity by 20 percent.

    <The eco-friendly building, “8House,” and tours of infrastructure facilities on an electric bicycle>

    In relation to this policy exchange, Mayor Park Won Soon and his delegation toured 8House, an eco-friendly, multi-purpose development in Ørestad (a district south of Copenhagen) that combines residential, retail, and commercial facilities, and infrastructure related to Copenhagen’s bicycle policy. 8House minimizes cooling and heating-related energy consumption through efficient positioning: commercial spaces, which require a large amount of cooling, are on the northeastern side, while residential spaces, which require a lot of heating, are located on the southwestern side. In particular, the residential spaces have been built as “passive” homes, which means that they can get through the winter without heating equipment thanks to the use of advanced insulation materials, LED lights, and dual-pane windows.

    Furthermore, a ramp that extends all the way from the first to the tenth (top) floor provides a pathway for bicycles and pedestrians, while its “green roof” helps to prevent the “heat island” phenomenon and roads from being submerged during heavy rains. In 2011, 8House was awarded the “Best Residential Architecture Award” at the World Architecture Festival held in Barcelona.

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    Mayor Park Won Soon stated, “I am incredibly pleased to sign friendship agreements with Odense and Copenhagen in commemoration of the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Korea. I expect that this visit will be the starting point for culture and tourism exchanges between Seoul and Copenhagen.” Mayor Park also added, “After being introduced to the knowledge and expertise that led Copenhagen to become one of Europe’s most representative environmentally-friendly cities and the capital of a leading ‘green’ country, I will do my best to apply that expertise to match Seoul’s circumstances and lead our city in becoming a major ‘green’ city of Asia.”