The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to carry out a project to establish “creative playgrounds” for children by Children’s Day, May 5, 2015. Seoul City carried out safety inspections of the 1,357 playgrounds in the city, and decided to replace the 29 that were found to be dilapidated or failed to meet safety requirements with new creative and adventure-oriented playgrounds.
There are 33 others that were also found to fall short of safety requirements. Seoul City will renovate eleven of them with funding from the national treasury or relevant autonomous district offices, while replacing the remaining 22 with safe, creative playgrounds with unique features.
Of particular note, three of the playgrounds will be rebuilt with the help of private organizations, such as Save the Children and the Korea Park Facility Association (KPFA), as well as with the participation of local residents. The opinions of children, parents, teachers, and landscaping experts were collected through discussion sessions and the Daum Agora Forum.
The 29 new creative children’s playgrounds will be built and maintained based on the following guidelines:
① A total of 26 playgrounds located in parks are to be rebuilt as creative, adventure-oriented playgrounds.
These 26 playgrounds will be rebuilt on a total land size of 33,610 square meters in seven autonomous districts with KRW 5.022 billion in funding from Seoul City. Construction work will begin toward the end of February or early March.
② Private organizations will play a leading role in the establishment of three playgrounds.
These three playgrounds will be built with the positive participation of local residents. Save the Children, an international NGO that works to protect children’s rights and is engaged in rehabilitation and development activities in 120 countries, will pay the total cost of the construction. The plan includes the construction of two children’s parks (Sangbong Park and Sehwa Park) in Jungnang-gu. Save the Children will also hold a workshop and a recreational camp with the participation of local children and parents, and Seoul City and Jungnang-gu will provide relevant administrative support.
※Save the Children is an international, non-governmental organization that promotes children’s rights and is currently carrying out programs in more than 120 countries.
The remaining playground will be built with KRW 200 million in funding from the KPFA after the selection of a suitable site. This park will be designed for both children and adults.
③ Ten criteria for good playgrounds are to be announced on Children’s Day.
After considering the opinions of citizens and children’s organizations, Seoul City will announce ten criteria for good playgrounds on Children’s Day (May 5, 2015) in an effort to promote the improvement of playgrounds as spaces designed assist the development of children’s creativity.
The factors that will be considered while drawing up the ten criteria include: the playground construction process, overall atmosphere, criteria for facility installation, safety, and function as a neighborhood facility, among others.
④ A playground operation and management system will be established in cooperation with local residents and social enterprises.
Seoul City also plans to create jobs related to the operation of the playgrounds that are located in parks, in cooperation with local residents and social enterprises. So far, the management of playgrounds has been left to local senior citizens association or volunteer workers.
Seoul City will cooperate with related associations (social enterprises, senior centers, youth herb, and so on) to find people capable of managing the playgrounds on a part-time or full-time basis.
Seoul City will also work with neighborhood communities and experts throughout the design, construction, and management phases of the playgrounds in an effort to ensure they serve as spaces for neighborhood collaboration.
As for the 22 playgrounds that are to be dismantled by February 26, various programs, such as rope skipping and traditional plays, will be provided to fill the recreational void in the areas until the new playgrounds are completed. “Park Play-100” is one such program. It was developed by Seoul City to promote the healthy growth and development of children through diverse outdoor activities and develop their sense of spontaneous cooperation with others. It was operated on a trial basis in 26 parks and playgrounds throughout Seoul in 2014.
Furthermore, the inspections carried out in September and October 2014 showed that most children’s playgrounds in Seoul are in good condition, and 1,153 (85%) of them have been renovated since 2008.
A survey was also carried out to gauge public satisfaction with Seoul’s playgrounds, and the resulting satisfaction score of 62.2 is lower than the average score for Seoul’s public parks (74.3, 2013). Forty-eight percent (578) of the 1,202 survey respondents pointed to the need for improvements in the operation and management of playgrounds. Other issues identified by the respondents included hygiene management (23.9%), safety management (22.8%), improvement of existing facilities (20.2%), and fostering a more pleasant atmosphere (13.3%).
< A session for locals to express their opinions on neighborhood playgrounds >
<Some examples of creative playgrounds >
(Geokkuro Playground in Seodaemun-gu)
(Gusan-dong Village Playground in Eunpyeong-gu)
(Nangok Playground in Gwanak-gu)
(Saejaengi Playground in Seocho-gu)