|A group of travelers visit a farm at Garumae Village in Yangpyeong-gun, Gyeonggi Province, as part of the “Rural-20” program. (Modetour Network Inc)|
It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of tourists to Korea never leave Seoul. Aiming to expose more tourists to the beauty and cultural richness of Korea’s nonmetropolitan areas, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has developed the “Rural-20” program for easy travel to these areas and activities offering a taste of rural life.
In March 2010, the ministry, after a series of trips and deliberations, announced its list of 20 villages that best represent the country’s rural history and culture.
The “Rural-20” program features tourist courses and activities under four main themes: “Experience,” “Nature,” “Orient Traditional Culture” and “Well-being.”
The list of “Rural-20” sites spread across all provinces of Korea includes: Gwangju Sandureun; Hwaseong Baekmiri; Icheon Noseongsan Jeonggeojang; Dangjin Yeongjeon Hwangto; and Sacheon Daseulgi Choryeong under the “Experience” theme.
|The “Rural-20” village sites (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)|
Pyeongchang Eoreumchi; Goesan Dunyul Olgaeng; Chilgapsan Mountain Sankkot; Damyang Hwangeum; Changnyeong Jangjae; and Geochang Dalbitgoun come under “Nature.”
Wanju Dueok Haengbokdream; Yeongam Gurim; Bonghwa Dalsil; Gyeongju Sesim fall under “Orient Traditional Culture.”
Finally, Chuncheon Muran; Yeongi Samgihyoso; Sunchang red pepper paste; Daejeon Chansaem; and Ganghwa Dalbitdonghwa Villages make up the “Well-being” category.
The ministry selected the destinations as places that had maintained their natural environments as well as local traditions and customs. Designed by a group of tourism experts, the programs include a combination of rural-experience villages and must-see countryside tourist attractions.
The rural-experience villages refer to towns that have been developed over the past decade to promote rural tourism by providing tourists with opportunities to experience rural life through hands-on work and other fun activities. “Rural-20” links these select villages with the region’s surrounding tourist hotspots through programs that let travelers experience local cuisine and a wide range of atypical travel activities.
The rural activities include picking peppers, tomatoes and other produce, collecting water parsley, rice cake pounding and making, fishing for mudskippers, kayaking, ceramics making, digging up sweet potatoes and much more.
For those looking for more adventurous activities, some of the sites under the “Nature” theme offer visitors thrilling activities such as zip-lining, sky jumping, white-water rafting, cave exploration and more.
There are two types of tour programs for each site, a short program for one day and a long program for two days. The tour programs will provide visitors a chance to fully enjoy “Rural-20” sites and nearby tourist attractions and encounter the other side of Korea.
The “Rural-20” tour program is open to all foreigners currently staying in Korea. This year’s tours are available until the end of November. For more information, visit www.rural20.kr/en/index.jsp or call (02) 728-8700.
By Julie Jackson (email@example.com