On February 5, Park Won Soon, mayor of Seoul, visited Hokkaido, the city of snow, and learned about the Sapporo Snow Festival, which is one of the world’s three best festivals, with two million visitors every year.
Marking the 66th anniversary this year, the Sapporo Snow Festival is Japan’s largest festival, held for seven days from February 5 every year, and is regarded as one of the world’s top three festivals along with Brazil’s Rio Carnival and Germany’s Oktoberfest.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government visited the Sapporo Snow Festival and learned about its 60-year history, development, planning and organization, and set this visit as a stepping-stone for developing Seoul’s representative festivals – the Seoul Kimchi Making and Sharing Festival and the Seoul Lantern Festival – into world-renowned festivals.
During the Sapporo Snow Festival, Pororo and Tayo the Little Bus, the representative characters of Seoul, were sculpted in ices (width 5.5m×length 3m×height 4m) and promotional booths were set up for the first time to promote Seoul to foreign visitors.
Particularly, Seoul City Wall, Seoul’s traditional landmark, which is expected to be registered as World Heritage by UNESCO in 2017; Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), a new landmark of Seoul; and the Sevit Island were promoted.
Mayor Park acted as a one-day ambassador, serving Korean traditional tea to Japanese and foreign tourists, taking pictures together while promoting several tourist sites in Seoul.
Not only that, Park met with Fumio Ueda, mayor of Sapporo, to learn the know-how on running the Sapporo Snow Festival to better organize and plan Seoul’s festivals and seek ways to mutually promote the Seoul Kimchi Making and Sharing Festival and the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Afterwards, Park made a joint declaration commemorating the fifth anniversary of the signing of the “Seoul-Hokkaido Friendship Agreement” with Harumi Takahashi, governor of Hokkaido. The joint declaration includes specific plans to raise the extent and level of cultural exchanges, economic exchanges, and personal exchanges.
According to the joint declaration, the two cities will participate in each city’s events and promote the events concerned, and will also undertake a “Campaign in Favor of Each City’s Facilities,” which has been implemented since 2013. Specifically, the citizens from both cities will be encouraged to participate in the representative sporting events of Seoul and Hokkaido, such as the Seoul International Marathon and Hokkaido Marathon.
A “Campaign in Favor of Each City’s Facilities” is a project that grants benefits to the tourists from Seoul and Hokkaido, when using the two cities’ cultural facilities. Nineteen facilities from Seoul and ten facilities from Hokkaido are participating in this initiative.
Also, Park visited Otaru, noted for glass craft since the 1900s, and where the Japanese movie “Love Letter” was filmed, to discuss ways to cooperate in the field of craft and workshops and to execute Otaru’s supportive policies, with Yoshiharu Nakamatsu, mayor of Otaru.