About 100 people on Saturday paddled their kayaks on the Han River, to celebrate the opening of four major weirs created by the nation’s large-scale four-rivers restoration project. The event was also hosted to attract more foreign visitors to the newly transformed riversides.
The government opened the four major weirs ― Ipo of the Han River, Gongju of the Geum River, Seungchon of the Yeongsan River, and Gangjeong Goryeong of the Nakdong River ― providing a glimpse of the mega multi-purpose project which is near completion.
Organized by Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), the kayaking event was held under the theme “Sailing the Dream.”
KTO president Lee Charm (fourth from the right) poses for a photo during a kayaking event celebrating the opening of four major weirs with other participants, in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, Saturday. (KTO)
Some 40 foreign diplomats from 10 countries, as well as 50 kayakers and 10 safe guards gathered at the Yeoju Weir in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province ― one of the 16 weirs installed as part of theproject ― for the special kayaking experience.
The participants paddled for about two hours on the Han River to reach the newly opened Ipo Weir in Yeoju, which is seven kilometers away from the starting point in the same city in Gyeonggi Province.
A special photo wall, painted with a yellow kayak and the river, was prepared for the participants throughout the day.
Lee Charm, head of the KTO, said Korea’s rivers are one of the best tourism resources in the country, as many of them are surrounded by cultural heritage sites and exquisite sceneries of the nature.
“A lot of European countries, including Germany, have already transformed their rivers into major tourist attractions, offering bike roads and docks for kayaks,” Lee said. “We should also look into ways to actively engage the newly restored rivers to attract more foreign visitors.”
Meanwhile, special kayaking lessons were held at Ipo and Seungchon, the two of the four major weirs that were opened on the same day.
The 30-minute program consisted of paddling lesson; safety training; introduction to the equipment; and 20 minutes of kayaking through the riverside. Some 200 people enjoyed the public event.
KTO plans to bring 10 million foreign visitors to the country by the end of this year. The organization, in joint effort with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, has already come up with travel packages featuring the newly transformed riversides and the cultural sites surrounding them.
The Culture Ministry is also planning to build culture and sports facilities near a total of 34 riversides nationwide by the year of 2015. The project is worth 167.5 billion won.
First launched in 2009, the river restoration project has been focusing on developing riversides, water security and flood control of the nation’s four major rivers.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)