Tourist City of 2018: Ganghwa Island Ready to Attract Tourists from Home and Abroad | BusinessKorea

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gwangseongbo Fortress: This fortress, which is one of the 12 along the coast of Ganghwa Island, was where soldiers fought hand to hand during the American invasion in April 1871.
Gwangseongbo Fortress: This fortress, which is one of the 12 along the coast of Ganghwa Island, was where soldiers fought hand to hand during the American invasion in April 1871.
Seoul, Korea
27 December 2017 - 12:00pm
Choi Mun-hee

Ganghwa County has announced its plan to attract tourists in 2018 to brace for the tourist city of this year. Its target figure for tourists in 2018 stands at 5 million, up 42 percent from that of 2016. The county has carried out extensive activities to promote the “tourist city of this year” in 2018 through various marketing channels, such as tourism promotion offices at home and abroad and social medial services as well as outdoor advertisements including bus wraps and movie theater advertising.

With a theme of “Tourist City with Undying Fire, Boom-up Relay Festival,” the county seeks to make it a tourist city packed with tourists throughout the year. Starting with a special trial tolling ceremony of Goryeogung Palace Site on December 31 this year, it plans to host large-scale events connected with K-pop one after another, such as the proclamation ceremony of the tourist city of the year, rhododendron and cherry blossoms festivals, Goryeo historical and cultural night trip, short film festival, Minmeoru beach festival, hip hop festival, old downtown story walk night trip, Gaecheon festival, pickled shrimp festival and Goryeo ginseng festival.

In addition, Ganghwa County will expand its tourism programs to attract foreigner tourists. After Grand Circle Corporation included Ganghwa County in its foreigner tour package “Overseas Adventure Travel” this year, foreigners have started visiting a sedate country village in Songhae-myeon in Ganghwa County. This package includes a tour of the Folk Flea Market, Hwamunseok Village and Ganghwa Peace Observatory. In particular, foreign tourists can visit houses of craftsmen who weave hwamunseok, a hand-made mat woven made from pure white sedge, and have a chance to make hwamunseok, firsthand in the Hwamunseok Village as well as make and eat Gimbap, or Korean seaweed and rice rolls, together with the residents. It has high customer satisfaction in that tourists can experience real life of the residents by visiting local markets and touring villages around the civilian passage restriction line and see the sights of North Korea at the nearest point.

Meanwhile, the K-travel Bus will also travel around Ganghwa departing from Seoul every week. The K-travel Bus, which starts operation in June, is an overnight bus tour program that explores not only popular tourist attractions, such as Jeondeungsa Temple and Peace Observatory, but also unknown ones, like Ganghwa Tourism Platform, Yonghung Palace and Ganghwa Anglican Catholic Church. Moreover, it includes programs to experience tidelands and traditional cultures of archery, hwamunseok and Sochang rubbed copies, attracting positive responses. The program that allows tourists to dig up ginseng and eat it with other foods has also high customer satisfaction. 

The Ganghwa Tourism Platform has various events and promotional activities for tourists, including the provision of one-stop tour package and discount tickets.

Lee Sang-bog, governor of Ganghwa County, said, “There is a limit to attract tourists with the efforts of administrative agencies alone. So, aggressive promotional strategies at the non-government level are needed. Since there is not much time left to become the tourist city of the year in 2018, we will focus our administrative ability to speed up projects connected with the tourist city.

Place of Coexistence of History, Tradition and Future

Ganghwa Island, located to the west of the central part of the Korean Peninsula, is the fourth-largest island of South Korea with an area of 411.42 square kilometers. The name of the island means a fine village with rivers, and the estuaries of the Han River, the Imjin River and the Yeseong River lead to the Yellow Sea around the island. It is a fine tourist attraction just one hour drive away from Incheon City, Seoul and Gyeonggi Province and is a place rich in nature and culture. Also, Ganghwa Island has for long been the home of Goryeo ginseng.

The island is home to abundant cultural and historical relics, too. The examples include the Chamseongdan Altar on Mt. Mani and the Ganghwa Dolmen. The former is known as where Dangun, the legendary founding father of Gojoseon, held a religious service and the latter, which dates back to the Bronze Age, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2000. The island was the provisional capital of the Goryeo dynasty from 1232 to 1270 during the Anti-Mongol Struggle.

The other examples include a total of 131 designated cultural heritage sites such as the Gwangseongbo, Deokjinjin and Chojijin Fortresses, the Jeondeungsa Temple, the Bomunsa Temple, and the Ganghwa Anglican Cathedral. The fortresses were battlegrounds of Shinmi Yangyo and Byeongin Yangyo against American and French invasions during the late Joseon Dynasty. The Jeondeungsa Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in South Korea and the Bomunsa Temple is one of the three largest Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva shrines in the country. The Ganghwa Anglican Cathedral is a beautiful combination of traditional Korean and Western architectural elements.

Recently, Ganghwa County has been picked as a Tourism City of the Year for 2018 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to become the first one on the list in the metropolitan area. In Ganghwa Island, beautiful nature and traces of history welcome tourists every season.

Ganghwa Dolmen

The typical northern-type dolmen dating back to the Bronze Age was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2000. About 120 similar dolmens are found along the ridges of Mt. Goryeo with an altitude of 436 meters. The Ganghwa Dolmen is 2.6 meters in height, 7.1 meters in length and 5.5 meters in width.

Goryeogung Palace Site

Ganghwa Island was the capital of the Goryeo dynasty for 39 years from 1232, when the capital of the dynasty was moved from Songdo during a Mongolian invasion. The island was a shelter for Joseon kings, too. The Goryeogung Palace Site was built back in 1631, the ninth year of the reign of King Injo of Joseon. Although almost the entire site was burned down during Byeongin Yangyo, Dongheon and Ibangcheong are still found there.

Gwangseongbo Fortress, Battlefield of Shinmi Yangyo

This fortress, which is one of the 12 along the coast of Ganghwa Island, was where soldiers fought hand to hand during the American invasion in April 1871.

Deokjinjin Fortress, the Strongest Battery of 12 Ganghwa Fortresses

During Byeongin Yangyo in 1866, Gen. Yang Heon-soo and his men defeated the French army after entering the Jeongjok Mountain Fortress through Deokjinjin. Also, a fierce artillery battle was staged against an American fleet in Shinmi Yangyo five years later.

Bomunsa Temple

Located in Seokmo Island, the temple is one of the three largest Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva shrines belonging to the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. You can reach the Mae Buddha Statue of the Nunseopbawi by walking 10 minutes from the yard of the temple and the sunset on the Yellow Sea viewed from the statue is truly amazing.

Jeondeungsa, the Oldest Mythical Temple

Legend has it that the three sons of Dangun built this temple located in the Samrang Fortress on Mt. Jeongjok. Historically, the temple was built in the 11th year of the reign of King Sosurim of Goguryeo.

Ganghwa Anglican Cathedral, Harmony of Eastern and Western Beauty

Historical Site No. 424 of South Korea, the cathedral shows how Christianity came to stay in the Korean Peninsula with its traditional Korean architectural elements on the outside and Basilican elements on the inside. It is the oldest Korean-style Catholic church in South Korea and a Sunday service is held each week there. 

Ganghwa Peace Observatory

The observatory was opened in 2008 in an area to the north of the civilian control line in Cheolsan-ri, Yangsa-myeon, which had been previously off-limits to civilians. Since the opening, many tourists have visited the place to see and feel the North, a veiled country. At the observatory just 2.3 kilometers away from North Korea, you can see its landscape and people with the unaided eye across the coast.

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