The Meare bottles, designed by Haeri Chung, watch on as a plane approaches the airport. Photo courtesy Myungho Park
Myungho Park has a mission, one which you probably support. He wants to change tourist habits on Jeju Island.
“From the Olle-gil to the beach, tourists litter so much. I want to say to tourists, ‘Please stop littering.’ “
▲ Photo by The Jeju Weekly
His concept is simple. Sell empty bottles and have tourists fill them up with either trash found on the streets or the detritus of their own stay on Jeju.
“Through this pilot project our aim is to send a symbolic message to visitors and to encourage them to contribute to the place they have visited.”
For the pilot, 100 bottles were produced and thus far around 50 have been sold. “We hope to sell plenty more in the summer,” says Park.
They go for 7,000 won full of pre-collected trash — from among a ton of garbage collected at Jeju’s main attractions by Park personally — or 3,000 won empty. They can be purchased at Space What? in Jeju City’s Jungang-ro shopping district, or at tumblbug.com/meare.
As for initial reactions, Park says people thought it was a hare-brained, money-making scheme at first, but most people warm to it once they understand its underlying concept.
Chung and Park fill up one of the Meare bottles on the Jeju seashore at Tapdong. Photo by The Jeju Weekly
“People at first reacted negatively, and there was particularly some misunderstanding around how the money will be used. Once they hear we plan to use the funds to build a library, their opinions change.”
The library Park plans to build with the proceeds will be for the whole community, again reflecting his commitment to socially conscious tourism.
“People living near the large attractions tend to get the benefits of tourism, as well as corporations, but we wanted to give the benefits to all people.“
“As the project expands we also hope that visitors can donate their own books to the library. Visitors often carry one or two books with them when they travel and donating them is an easy way for them to contribute to the place they have visited.”
The Meare symbol designed by Haeri Chung. Image courtesy Myungho Park
The very name of the project reflects this concept of giving back, “Meare” meaning echo in Korean
Haeri Chung, who designed the simple, clean and fresh bottles (in contrast to their contents), hopes the concept can catch on elsewhere.
“We hope in the future we can make a similar design for other cities, so each destination has its own bottle,” says Chung.
As Park talks us through the contents of one bottle, including a Chinese newspaper, orange chocolate wrappers and flight tickets, Jeju is exposed naked, bereft of its glossy veneer.
“Although it is rubbish, it represents Jeju culture,” the Incheon native says.
“We want to diversify tourist culture, so they don’t just take pictures and buy Hallabong oranges. There is value and meaning in other things, even the stuff discarded on the street.”
“This is just the beginning, selling the bottles, and hopefully the cultural change can happen later. We could even hold rubbish collection trips with tourists or educational projects with local school children.”
The Meare bottles can be purchased at
4, Jungang-ro 5-gil
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