Legacy of Baekje Kingdom to Be Spotlighted
By Do Je-hae
Chungcheong Province is staging the "2010 Visit Chungcheong" campaign, the heart of which is the Baekje Cultural Festival held in Gongju since 1955.
For the last 55 years, the province has hosted the festival, one of the three oldest cultural fests held in Korea. It has largely remained a domestic event, but Gongju aims to globalize Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C.-660 A.D.) through holding the 2010 Baekje History Expo.
The Expo is aimed at disseminating the artistry, the openness and diversity of the Baekje culture to the world.
Daejeon and North and South Chungcheong Provinces introduced the "2010 Visit Chungcheong" campaign on Jan. 27 during an opening ceremony in Seoul.
"The three regions have traditionally been known for their great nature, sightseeing destinations and kindness of the people. Due to a lack of infrastructure, the region's tourism has been underdeveloped," an official with the Daejeon city administration said. "The campaign is aimed at turning this around, while establishing the region as the nation's best tourism spot."
"The campaign will be an opportunity to show that Chungcheong's growth is instrumental to the raising nation's stature as a tourism power," Daejeon Mayor Park Seoung-hyo said.
Authorities are hoping to attract 100,000 overseas tourists to the festival this year.
"We hope that Chungcheong will make the campaign a success, giving reasons for visitors to keep coming back to the region," Kim Dae-ki, vice ministry of the culture ministry said.
Gongju has been recognized for running a program to urge tourists to revisit the area.
Cities nationwide have been eager to benchmark Gongju for its ``cyber citizenship'' program, designed to provide incentives to visitors and tourists to the ancient capital in South Chungcheong Province.
Gongju has offered honorary online citizenship to anyone, Korean or foreigner, who registers with the official Web site of the program at http://cyber.gongju.go.kr. A certificate of honorary citizenship is issued upon registration.
Cyber Gongju citizens can visit some of the most famous historical sites of Baekje free of charge and enjoy discounted rates at designated facilities and in purchasing agricultural produce in Gongju.
The 2010 Baekje History Expo. will be held from Sept.18~Oct.17 with parades, rituals and memorial ceremonies for the four great kings of Baekje, among other activities. Local authorities are expecting a large number of overseas tourists, especially from Japan and China, which had active diplomatic and cultural ties with Baekje.
In addition, the region has been cultivating close ties with historical cities around the world to seek their participation.
Member cities of the World Historical Cities Association, including Athens, Rome, Jerusalem and Barcelona, are expected to participate in the Expo.
Another major international event to be hosted by the region is the 2010 World Oriental Medicine-Bio EXPO in Jecheon.
It will be an occasion to promote the excellence of oriental medicine and the medicinal herb market in Jecheon, one of the largest in Korea, through exhibitions and seminars.
Daejeon offers a science tour that takes visitors to the EXPO science Park and other areas.
Authorities from South Chungcheong province have placed much priority in expanding accommodation infrastructures and restaurants that cater to foreign visitors.
Home stay programs will be introduced in August for those looking for affordable accommodations.
The region has selected 30 restaurants as foreigner-friendly eateries.
Chungcheong has been considered one of the most underdeveloped areas of the country.
The idea for a Chungcheong-specific tourism campaign was first conceived in 2004 by regional authorities.