Grassroots village tour launch event
As part of efforts by Jeju province and Jeju Tourism Organization to boost grassroots tourism in Jeju's villages, Songdang-ri, Gujwa-eup, will hold a “Wishing Village” event on Saturday, July 4.
The date marks the official launch of village tours in Songdang-ri after local residents worked closely with Jeju Tourism Organization to highlight the village’s key values and promote sustainable tourism development through a celebration of its ecology and culture.
Local businesses are also closely involved in the scheme and local products made from beans, bonnet bellflower and potato will be for sale directly by local farmers maximizing local benefits and qualitative growth for Jeju tourism.
Sondang-ri is located in the upland region of Gujwa-eup and was established around 900 years ago. It is blessed with the culture of the local Geumbekjo shamanic rite, Intangible Cultural Asset No.5.
Acording to Gujwa-eup records, the village takes its name from a house with a large pine tree and it is one of Jeju’s most symbolic sites for “Bonhyangdang,” Jeju's village shrines.
Locals also regard the village as the home of Jeju oreum (volcanic cones) as 18 are found locally including Abu Oreum (a shooting location for movie ‘Lee Jae Su’s Rebellion’ starring Lee Jeong Jae) and Dang Oreum (upon which Geumbekjo Bonhyangdang shrine is found).
The local oreum are incredibly varied with the low quartet of Saemi Oreum, Andol Oreum, Bitdol Oreum and Dot Oreum (which is covered in nutmeg groves). Somewhat loftier, Nopeun Oreum is famed for its expansive views.
This combination of shamanic and ecological heritage make Songdang village a key site for sustainable village tours and an opening event will be held on Saturday, July 4.
Seogwipo City (World Cup Stadium, Water Park): 7:30am
Free shuttle bus return
9:20am - 1pm: Visitors can choose from two village tours.
* An English guide is available for the morning tours.
Both courses: Dang Oreum -> Gwaengi Moru -> Wishing Tree (Opening Ceremony)
A course (2hrs): Village Walk -> Health Center -> Village Office
B course (3hrs 30mins): Andol Oreum -> Bitdol Oreum -> Health Center -> Village Office
11:30am - 2:30pm: "Cold bean noodles and watermelon" made with local produce
12:30 - 3pm: Farm events
* To register for the program call Jeju Tourism Organization (064-740-6925). Spaces are limited to 100 people on July 4.
▲ A map of the local Songdang walking courses. Image courtesy JTO
Sustainable village growth
Ko Jung Sik, village head, said that the heritage of Songdang represents Jeju’s own culture and all residents are fully behind the project.
“I hope the oreum, Jeju’s symbol, can help keep the village’s identity and promote village tours alongside Jeju Tourism Organization,” he added.
In a message to visitors, Ko noted increased littering along Jeju’s village roads and he asked all visitors to be aware of the local environment and to take all trash back home, adding:
“I want you to have a safe and pleasant experience, as well as have all your wishes come true.”
Following the success of Jeju Olle, such locally embedded tourism projects are being developed island-wide for healing the minds and bodies of tourists tired of the daily nine-to-five grind.
Such events also help Jeju tourism keep pace with changingn demands from tourists as they seek quality local experiences to share in this era of SNS ‘life-logging’. Such tourists, mostly independent and shunning group tours, are quick to share tasty delicacies and unique local experiences.
By targeting such independent tourists and improving local tour options at the grassroots level, the province can increase overall tourist satisfaction, boost local businesses and maintain Jeju’s natural and cultural values.
Songdang is blessed with many enchanting oreum. Photo courtesy Jeju Tourism Organization
Grassroots cooperation for Jeju village tours
Due to the popularity of Jeju walking courses, local villages have been seeking to take advantage of their natural beauty and cultural richness to drive qualitative tourism growth.
Although Jeju village tours have been discussed since the year 2000, few have yet got off the ground. This is soon to change, however, with tours celebrating local nature and culture being developed in Gasi-ri (Pyoseon-myeon), Mureung 2-ri (Daejeong-eup), Seonheul 1-ri (Jocheon-eup).
Locals have shown great interest in all of these areas in focusing on local cultural and natural characteristics for sustainable tourism growth and cooperation with local residents is key to sustainable success of these projects.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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