Japan from the inside out

Fukuoka-Busan: The gateposts of the Asia Gateway

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, July 7, 2009

IT’S A CURIOUS PHENOMENON that the farther people are from Japan and South Korea, the more likely they are to think folks in the two countries get along like dogs and monkeys, as the Japanese say about dogs and cats. If the articles and snide asides that the print media offer as infotainment are to be believed, it’s taken as a given in the West that the Koreans and Japanese can’t stand each other, and it’s mostly Japan’s fault.

But that’s not the picture that emerges in the part of the world where the two countries are closest to each other. It’s a mere three-hour boat ride or 50-minute flight across the Korean Strait separating Kyushu and the southeastern part of the Korean Peninsula. Here in Kyushu, it’s no big deal to eat a leisurely breakfast while listening to a Busan radio station, and then follow that with a leisurely lunch in Busan. In fact, I’ve done it myself.

It’s not as if I’m a trend-setter, either. That trip has become an everyday occurrence for people in both countries. The sister cities of Fukuoka City and Busan know better than anyone that their bread is buttered on both sides, and they’ve been working together to whip up more tempting treats.

That’s why the two cities have embarked on their Asia Gateway campaign for encouraging people in both regions to drop by and set a spell, and in the process drop as much money as they can afford. They took the next step in the campaign today when they launched the joint Asia Gateway website. Their concept for the overall tone of the site is that the two cities are actually “neighboring towns” where people regularly travel back and forth, rather than cities in foreign countries that people visit occasionally for business or pleasure.

Considering the state of modern transportation and the real people I’ve seen traveling across the strait, that’s no exaggeration. For starters, young single women in both countries think nothing of hopping on the boat for a weekend cross-strait shopping expedition.

The website is jointly managed by the Nishinippon Shimbun and the Busan Ilbo newspapers. The homepage is in both languages, and from there visitors can access the separate Japanese- and Korean-language content. The section created in Fukuoka for Koreans contains videos of local attractions popular with Koreans, as well as blogs. There’s also a map of the Tenjin district in Fukuoka City, Kyushu’s largest commercial area, translations into Korean of Nishinippon Shimbun articles, and information on the Kurokawa Hot Springs in Kumamoto, another destination popular with Korean tourists.

The ties between the two areas aren’t PR dreamed up by the respective Chambers of Commerce. Coming soon to the site is an interview with a bi-strait married couple. The husband is Japanese and lives in Fukuoka City, while his wife is Korean and lives in Busan. Now that’s my idea of bisexuality!

Later this month, Busan plans to add more information in Japanese about their tourist attractions and Korean-style fortunetelling.

But you don’t need yuk hak to get a glimpse of the future in this part of the world, and now you’ve got more to go on than the English-language press. Just take a look at the Asia Gateway website and see for yourself.

Afterwords: The interview with the married couple is already supposed to be up there, but I couldn’t find it. Perhaps in the next day or so.

One Response to “Fukuoka-Busan: The gateposts of the Asia Gateway”

  1. […] Fukuoka and Pusan launch Asia Gateway campaign. […]

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