8 Stars of Korean tourism 2021
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and Korea Tourism Organization have selected eight provincial places including Seogwipo Forest of Healing on Jeju Island and Banwoldo Island, known more famously as Sinan Purple Island in Sinan-gun County, Jeollanam-do Province, as the winners of this year’s Korea Tourism Awards.
Since their inception in 2010, the annual awards have honored 106 “stars of Korean tourism” including 65 tourist sites.
This year saw eight honorees in six categories, with the most being tourism resources for people worn out by the prolonged pandemic.
Seogwipo Forest won the category for “a tourist site with its amazing charm.” Located at an altitude of 400 m-760 m above sea level on Hallasan Mountain, the forest has trails and outdoor healing spaces with clean natural resources as the background. Its healing forest programs including “Forest of Consolation” for those weary from the pandemic also contribute to the stimulation of the island’s economy.
The night tour of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do Province, and Sinan Purple Island were named tourist sites “that create new charm.” The tour is an extension of day-oriented tourism at the fortress through the creation of trails with media art and lighting.
Inspired by platycodons (also known as bellflowers) that grow naturally there, Banwoldo was built to create an island “where purple flowers bloom in all four seasons.” The United Nations affiliate World Tourism Organization on Dec. 3 named the island to its Best Tourism Villages list, calling it an excellent benchmark of collaboration among residents of a region.
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King Canoe Ferry in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do Province, where visitors can see the scenic Uiamho Lake, was named a “tourist attraction considerate of the disadvantaged.” The open site offers braille and tactual maps for the visually impaired and specialized tour guides for tourists from underprivileged backgrounds.
9.81 Park in Jeju City, Jeju Island, was selected as a “site among new tourist destinations expected to see further development due to its unique charm.” With state-of-the-art technology such as automotive engineering and the internet of things, the park offers a variety of interactive races that combine sports and games.
As “people who contributed to the revitalization of Korean tourism through contributions to overall pop culture,” director Hwang Dong-hyuk of the smash Netflix series “Squid Game” and the Oji fishing community in the village of Oji-ri in Seosan, Chuncheongnamdo-Province, were selected. The community appeared in “Feel the Rhythm of Korea – Seosan,” part of Season 2 of a series of tourism promotional videos made by the Korea Tourism Organization.
This year also saw a new category “a tourist attraction, entity or program with a high possibility of environmental and social sustainability,” with the inaugural winner being a cooperative unofficially titled Go on Hadong Residents’ Fair Tour. The organization was set up by experts, residents of Hadong-gun County, Gyeongsangnam-do Province, and urban youths.
The cooperative plans and runs alternative tours reflecting regional characteristics such as Jirisan Mountain in Gyeongsangnam-do Province and the Seomjingang River in Jeollanam-do Province. It cooperates with regional authorities and corporations, implements cultural projects and education and pursues sustainable tourism, and helps shape the future of rural communities.