▲ Mt. Sangbang. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
A site is designated and administered as a Geopark when it is geologically important and educationally valuable as to be utilized as a resource of preservation, education, and tourism asset.
It has two categories: the World Geoparks, which are designated by UNESCO, and the National Geoparks, which are designated by individual countries.
It is of special significance that, in Lesbos, Greece, at midnight on Oct. 4 (Oct. 3, 6 p.m. KST), Jeju was designated as a World Geopark by the Global Geoparks Network.
In a country where the Geopark system has not solidified nationally, the designation as a World Geopark was a chance to attract the world’s attention to the top tier value of Korean geological features.
Also, Korea has become the 5th country to possess a Geopark in Asia.
Jeju will be, furthermore, an exemplary case to other sites in Korea that aspire to Geopark status such as Ulleung-do, Dok-do, and Youngwul of Gangwon-do.
Jeju Special Self-Governing Province has now achieved the grand slam of obtaining all three major heritages; approval by the Biosphere Reserve in December, 2002, enlistment as a World Natural Heritage in June, 2007, and designation as a Geopark this October.
Jeju is the only location in the world to be honored with the UNESCO “Triple Crown.”
This is an international recognition that Jeju natural environment is one of the most beautiful, well-preserved, and geologically valuable in the world.
In addition, Jeju has been globally verified not only for its natural environment, but also its culture and history for the Jeju Chilmeoridang Yeongdeung Gut was designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in September, 2009.
On Oct. 4, Woo Keun Min said, “Jeju is the only place in the world that hosts all of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, World Natural Heritage, Intangible Cultural Heritage, and Geopark at the same time.” He continued, “[the designation as a Geopark] deserves to be called a truly splendid achievement.”
Jeju will benefit from an immense promotional effect by its images appearing on various publications and promotional materials produced by UNESCO.
This not only enhances the brand value of Jeju, but also formulates a pedestal on which the nationally renowned tourist attraction can develop into an international one.
More importantly, Jeju will carry this momentum to the “World Environmental Capital” project, prompted by the triple-crowning of UNESCO heritages.
Text courtesy the Jeju Ilbo. Translation by Chris J. Park
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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