Jakarta – After taking a stroll around the Gamcheon cultural village in the South Korean port city of Busan, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo says he want more villages in Indonesia to look to the slum-turned-tourist-attraction as an inspiration for development.
Prior to attending the ASEAN-South Korea Commemorative Summit on Monday, Jokowi and First Lady Iriana visited on Sunday the hillside village, which is dubbed the "Machu Picchu of Busan" because it is located on a steep mountain slope.
The First Couple took their time to eat some local food at a cafe on the hillside in Gamcheon while looking at the village's multi-tiered communal layout, as shown in the picture posted on Jokowi's official Instagram account @jokowi.
Although the art-themed village is now a tourist attraction, Gamcheon was in fact a slum town in the 1950s when refugees flocked to it in the aftermath of the Korean War.
After undergoing transformation as part of an urban rehabilitation, the village now features colorful houses built in staircase-fashion and alleys decorated with murals and sculptures, as well as exhibition spaces and restaurants.
"I suppose that villages in [Indonesia] can also transform themselves and build something like [Gamcheon]," Jokowi said as quoted in a statement released by the Presidential Press Bureau.
Jokowi said that he wanted local administration leaders to take the Gamcheon cultural village as their "inspiration" to transform slum areas into attractive destinations that could empower local economies.
"We can take [Gamcheon] as a model and create some modifications, but the most important thing is there is an urban rehabilitation [program] with community development and creative economy empowerment," he said.
In Indonesia, some areas previously considered slums on the most-populated Java Island have been upgraded into attractive tourist destinations as residents tidied up their neighborhoods and painted their houses in vibrant colors.
Code Village in Yogyakarta, for instance, was known for its resemblance to the colorful hill favelas in Rio de Janeiro after residents painted the houses and roofs in bright colors. In the past, the village used to be a slum, but the late Catholic priest and architect Romo YB Mangunwijaya led an upgrading initiative to start renovating the village in the 1980s.
Another example is Warna-warni (colorful) village in Bogor, West Java. Not only were the houses painted in vibrant colors, villagers also painted rocks by the river, set up inner tube rides on the Katulampa River and transformed open spaces in the village into library and traditional game areas. (afr)