Sparkling, vibrant ideas flow around the room. The eyes of young people glitter with passion and energy. The room is soon filled with people from diverse areas and different majors, but they head for a single goal: the revival of the culture of Sinchon. These young and brave challengers are “The Blu-ist.”
The Blu-ist is an organization based in Sinchon that designs projects to revive the youth culture. The name “The Blu-ist” has special meaning. Blue, a symbolic color of youth and liveliness, is followed by -ist, which means a person who works to revitalize the youth. Also, since the pronunciation is similar with the bluest, it implies its ambition to create the most lively youth culture in Sinchon.
Its ultimate goal is to revive the once-vibrant youth culture such as art, music and plays for the youths of Sinchon.
The beginning of the organization dates back to 2011. At first it was a small project team under the Yonsei University’s Student Club Union.
“Preparing for the Yonsei Student Club Festival, I was surprised at how artistically talented students were,” said Park Chan-ju (Yonsei, 4), the former president of The Blu-ist. “I felt sorry that their talent could only be shown inside the school, so we held a festival in Yeonsero to share their works with other people. After the festival, we seriously discussed about the identity of our group, and eventually we decided to stand on our own feet in August 2011.”
Since then, not only Yonsei students but also those from other universities could apply for The Blu-ist. Although it started as a group of mere five students, now there are 18 members, mostly from schools around Sinchon. Every week they gather to share their ideas and come up with new project plans.
The Blu-ist is distinguished from other student organizations in that it is supported by Seodaemun-gu Office for their biggest project, “Sinchon University Cultural Festival.” For the first Sinchon University Cultural Festival in 2011, Seodaemun-gu Office provided space for the festival by regulating the vehicle entrance to Yeonsero.
“I still get surprised at how bold I was to visit and asked Seodaemun-gu for help. Fortunately, the timing helped me a lot. The office was looking for how it will be when they block the road. Our project plan was perfect for it.”
The Blu-ist cherishes networking between artists, organizers and the public. Every time one project ends, a wrap-up party for the participants to construct a future-oriented relationship is arranged. The networking resulted in a huge success. One notable example is J-nova, the oldest live cafe in Sinchon which was once popular but has lost its customers due to the commercialism of Hongdae, had gotten back its reputation thanks to the project of The Blu-ist.
An adversity they have been fighting for is the financial issue. Park says they thought about building a social enterprise or sharing incomes with the artists. However, hoping to maintain their identity as a non-commercial organization, they decided to remain in its original form. Until now, they have always returned every earnings to the artists.
“Finally, we decided to borrow money from a father of one of our members,” said Jeong Tae-hwa (English, 3), current president of The Blu-ist. “The money we lent works as baseline budgets for the projects.”
Currently, The Blu-ist is searching for new projects considering the changes of Sinchon such as the enlarged plaza and no-vehicle streets. They are also planning a festival more related to our daily lives such as designing the display walls with daily items like beer cartons. Furthermore, they are trying to challenge a film area. Short art films containing the uniqueness of Sinchon created by university students or amateur artists are the items they are trying to include.
“We will continue to preserve our founding value as a pure cultural organization. Making the cultural art more accessible in our everyday lives is our immediate objective,” said Jeong.
“Financial issue is going to follow us everytime. However, we will continue to preserve our original founding value as a pure cultural organization. Making the cultural art more accessible in our everyday lives is our immediate objective,” Jeong said.