Busan Port – Reinventing unused port space

From 2008 to 2022, Busan North Port in South Korea, is undergoing a massive renovation project. During this period, much of the area being renovated remains empty and unused. In 2017, the Busan Port Authority embarked on a citizen-led project aiming to establish a leisure destination for visitors which effectively utilize the empty space, while also contributing to local commerce and job creation, and creating social value.

This project saw the creation of a citizen-led advisory committee consisting of local experts, academics, union members, business owners, and students, to together brainstorm ways of using the space that would best benefit local citizens. An open request was put out for proposals on ways to use the waterfront area, and a website (www.valueforbusan.com) was created so that citizens could give feedback every step of the way. The result is the establishment of a 7,400 m2 swimming pool park with a 2,000-person capacity, a 8,900 m2 campsite, and a free, outdoor foot spa. The entire area is expected to attract 190,000 visitors per year while the port is undergoing redevelopment.

Entry fees to the swimming pool are the lowest in the country, and additional discounts are offered to low income families. Co-operation with the charities ChildFund Korea and BYAC have seen free events hosted at the park for welfare recipients. A cooperation agreement with Choryang Traditional Market sees locally-sourced wares sold within the park, and all food trucks within the park are youth-run. Rental fees for the youth-run food trucks are also the lowest in South Korea. MOU agreements with the Busan Economic Production Agency and the local District office ensured that these ventures were managed effectively. Finally, the park itself has seen 128 new jobs created specifically for youth and the elderly. Citizen satisfaction for the entire project is over 90%.