Petition in South Korea demands termination of ‘Chinatown’ project

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March 30 (UPI) — A South Korean petition on the presidential Blue House website calling for an end to the construction of a new “Chinatown” has collected nearly 180,000 signatures, less than a week after another petition condemning a television drama was uploaded to the site.

The petition transmitted anonymously to the government site on Monday stated South Korea’s Gangwon Province was building a “South Korea-China Culture Town,” or a Chinatown, local newspaper Hankook Ilbo reported Tuesday.

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Authors of the petition said they “strongly oppose” the construction of a Chinatown in Gangwon Province.

“Why should the Republic of Korea create a small China?” the statement read. “Citizens cannot understand why Korean land should be used to experience Chinese culture. Don’t give China Korean land.”

Friction over culture and cuisine has lingered between the two countries after China claimed Korea’s kimchi, a spicy and fermented cabbage dish, was of Chinese origin. On social media, the dispute has led to claims from Chinese netizens that Korea “stole” Chinese culture, sparking public outrage among South Koreans.

The South Korean petition uploaded on Monday claimed the residents of Gangwon Province oppose the Chinatown project.

“Even if Chinese capital was deployed [in the construction], this is absolutely unjustifiable and unacceptable,” the petition read.

Gangwon Province authorities have defended the project, describing the future Chinatown as a “tourist destination,” and not a residential district. The project will occupy nearly 300 acres, according to Hankook Ilbo.

South Korean officials must respond to the petition if it collects more than 200,000 signatures.

The petition site also includes a petition for the cancelation of Joseon Exorcist, a television drama that angered Korean viewers after scenes showed Korean royalty eating Chinese food at a Korean tavern. The show was suspended this week.

Descendants of the Korean royal family issued a complaint, according to Yonhap.