The shaping of our project started out by first studying the various tourist attractions within the DMZ and those that lay near the border. We then looked into these peace attractions and realized that they could be classified into 5 main categories – Observatories, Museums, Military Installations, Parks and Reunification Villages.
Most of these peace attractions all talk about reunification and hopes for peace among both Koreas, but these attractions never seem to help create a space for conversation between the people of the two Koreas. Rather, they all act as standalone islands, repeating the same message of hope to those who visit them while portraying North Korea as a form of entertainment through their lens.
Gangwon Province alone has at least 12 of these peace attractions. We understand that their current purpose could be limited due to the present geopolitical climate, but we wanted to start a conversation about what more these peace parks could bring through this project.
The individuality of these peace attractions really stands out especially when we looked at the attractions at Goseong: while travelling towards the 3 peace attractions, we are able to see and feel the organic growth of a nearby town along the road networks. Contrasting to that, we can feel the strong presence of isolation through the controlled placements of each of these attractions when one were to arrive at their destinations.
This composite drawing represents our analysis of the site, including its cultural and urban characteristics.
Starting from the top, In North Korea’s territory beyond Mt Kumgang is Kosung station and the village that surrounds it, one of the closest to Goseong’s Jejin station. Moving down, we can get a spatial sense of the DMZ site attraction at Goseong, as a series of monuments perches on their little ‘islands’ in a sparse sprawl condition, and the railroad track runs through the site and its attractions until it terminates at Jejin station. Further down South is Myeongpa village, where local agriculture/delicacies like Dried Pollock and Sundae(blood sausage) are popular in the town. It is mainly populated by elderly North Koreans with a history of fleeing from North Korea before the 38th parallel was established.
Through this project, we hope that this site can be readapted to facilitate dialogue about reunification rather than just a passive place to learn about it.
To reiterate, these peace attractions have just been marketing the idea of reunification – and not used as spaces to bring both countries together. We wanted to move past this passive approach through these peace attractions, and question what if it was more active by bringing some disorder, a little life, into these peace parks in the name of peace. Thus we propose Goseong Film Strip.
We envision the site as a production studio for film and TV shows, with both the South and the North Koreans becoming the cast and crew of the media, working and participating together through inter-Korean projects. What is common between the media of both Koreas, are its everyday streetscape – the backdrop to the various scenes in their own creative content.
Furthermore, we see Goseong Film Strip as having the potential to appease both sides: by providing more locations for filming to SK’s burgeoning film industry, and possibly for the NK government to satisfy the public’s desire for South Korean content.
Looking at where the DMZ museum is located, visitors are forced to only experience what is found within the museum and around its periphery. The experience itself, by nature, leans heavily towards a South Korean identity.
But we find that one can remove himself out of that narrative in generic places such as commercial spaces or among public spaces and public infrastructure. Thus we envision that while filming within Goseong film strip, it will not emphasize much of the peace attractions themselves, but the public spaces and elements. We want to transform these symbols of hierarchy, into filming spaces where the appreciation and understanding of these peace park facilities are no longer understood as landmarks, but in their most distilled elements.
We began our study of film studios in order to have an idea of how we could have them be integrated with the peace attractions. We looked at North Korea’s Pyongyang studios, which sits on a sprawling 460,000 sqm site, replete with production studios and backlots that hold permanent sets. These permanent sets are basically mini towns to depict different cities, like Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. The sets are made up of generic buildings that, despite their dated looks, successfully invoke a sense of their time and place when used in their films.
We also studied popular production facilities in South Korea, as well as renowned ones around the world like Fox studio lots in Los Angeles and Cinecitta in Rome. Our site has the potential to accommodate some of the largest film studios like Fox studio lots and even Cinecitta. But we wanted to challenge the traditional practice of clustering production facilities and the separation of the backlot sets of film studios. Thus, we chose to decentralize these programs to the proximity of these 3 peace attractions of the site
We also looked into how an inter-Korean production crew can make use of the site. As a result, we started to research the size of the filming crew per episode of variety shows, and on avg, there can be around 300 pax per episode. With films, it might even be more.
With the three film strips, the site can accommodate at least 3 filming production concurrently and forms of tourist visitation – easily reaching the capacity of 1000 pax, potentially more.
Access to the different film strips will be by bus or car for the South Koreans using the highway, while the North Koreans will arrive by train, revitalising the former Donghaebukbu rail Line. This line was meant to reconnect the whole of the east coast of Korea, but it currently terminates at Jejin Station. This termination makes it possible for the entire site to now become a new special administrative zone for both North Korean and South Korean access. What was once seen as a victim of the current inter-Korean relationship, now becomes key to turning the site into a place of dialogue for reunification.
We wanted to push the idea of removing the association of monumentality from these peace attractions by blending them with the facilities of the studio. As a result, we planned the production facilities in a way where they absorb the attraction, taking away its identity as a peace attraction, and turning it into another piece of normality in the new development.
Thus, with the film strips at each of the peace attractions in the area, we envision both the North Korean and South Korean production crew would be able to intermix in a place that is of common ground.
This is video is a preview as to how the North and South would enter the studio and what they will experience
The planning within the film strip can be divided into 3 bands that juxtaposes North Korea and South Korea culture – through the usage of different façade, to the different monuments of both Korea, and even building placement, where the regular, micro districts of North Korea is contrasted against the Irregular, minor streets of South Korea. This creates a new form of reality, one that is contrasting w the current political climate. One where the significance of monuments is diminished in the overall picture of the film production studio.
As previously mentioned, this experience of a new reality also applies to the streets between the facilities to simulate the backstreets and alleyways of Korea – the pimatgols. These were used by the commoners to avoid bowing to the noble class back in the feudal era.
Over time, restaurants and shops began to occupy these back alleys, which became a parallel universe and an important part of the vibrant everyday life in the city. We wanted the exterior spaces within our film strip to become the everyday spaces that South Korea and North Korea can reciprocate as one. Furthermore, it is practical as well, since these pitmagols, and the facades that build this reality can be used as exterior sets for film productions.
Goseong film strip is not meant to be a closed site but rather a start for the reconnection between the north and south. Eventually, it could expand further through different layers of tourism as explained in this collage.
First of all, the actors and production crew themselves visit the production park, as a form of business/work tourism. The bi-national collaboration and games played between actors and crew members from both sides will spur some form of interaction and start a conversation about unifying Korea’s TV, which is something ubiquitous on both sides.
Next, as television is a medium that can easily reach a global audience when the program gets broadcasted, viewers will be able to watch the places featured in the program, which serves as a form of virtual tourism for them.
Finally, as the popularity of the place shoots up from the tv shows, Goseong Film strip will start receiving conventional tourists, local and international, who are curious to explore the studio and get to physically witness a successful bi-national collaboration taking place.
Thus, the immediate benefit of Goseong Film strip applies to the inter-Korean production cast and crew, providing at least 1000 jobs and the required facilities for their production to take place. In addition, there is the knock-on effect of bringing more tourists into the site as they become fans of the programs. As a result, both North and South Korea will enjoy the increased revenue that is brought in by these recreational tourists, Koreans and International. Lastly, these peace attractions and the area that they occupy will become much more active and vibrant through Goseong Film Strip.
In order to facilitate the different layers of tourism, we needed to have various programs that support this new ecosystem such as accommodations, commercial and recreational spaces, AND offices for post productions. So, the difference between a traditional studio set and Goseong Film strip is how the various production facilities, amenities and accommodation are placed next to one another
As a tourist, one could find himself looking at an ongoing production right outside in the pitmagol, making use of the exterior facades as the backdrop. He then could find himself in the various facilities that are contained between the exterior facades – like the pre-production office, sound stages, or the lobby of his accommodation.
These transitions between programs, or realities, are made possible with the ring of infrastructure that supports the exterior façades and holds the internal programs. the infrastructure now becomes the threshold between the internal and external activities.
The recreation of the pitmagol and its associated vibrant life is done through the combination of the production facilities and recreational programs with the various façade.
Through this vibrancy and shared experience, conversations between Koreans can happen without any association to either the south or north – just Korean.
Expanding from the fabricated reality of the street, the façade ring that wraps around the various facilities can support the activities that are happening along the pitmagols such as space to deploy film equipment at various vantage points, and also support the activities that are happening internally, becoming circulation spaces and areas that facilitate chance encounters. There is this Juxtaposition of the fabricated reality of the street and the actual reality of the internal facilities.
The main element of our project is this 2-4m wide inhabitable structural grid frame, that on one hand allows the exterior set facades to be cladded, and on the other hand, serve as an in-between space for sets and facilities.
This inhabitable structural grid frame is made up of I-beams that are plugged into a supporting facility and finished with the exterior set facade– a medium to showcase the streetscape and culture of both North Korea and South Korea.
The interior program is interchangeable – from accommodations for tourists and crew to sound stages for productions and to recreational facilities. Thus, the most important aspect of the building is not what’s inside or outside. But rather what’s in between – the space that will be used by all.
Through this project we hope it starts a conversation among those who visit, to be active in the decision for reunification.
At the micro-level, the infrastructure for the exterior sets forms this in-between space that enables conversation through informal, passive everyday interactions between both sides- something as simple as the act of borrowing a lighter, or sharing a smoke together.
As the inhabitants from both sides pass each other through the daily use of this threshold, it breeds familiarity with one another, even if it’s unspoken.
We envision the film strip to spur active conversation and interaction among the inhabitants – north or south.
Their thoughts of each other shouldn’t be led by a certain narrative, but rather be done actively by the individual.
Note: All credits for the various soundbytes goes to freesounds.org and JAYKEEOUT for the North Korean Interview Audio Clip