The government is gearing up to support the local economy of the Jindo area in South Jeolla Province, stricken by the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry in April.
From openly calling attention to the local tourism situation, to providing new marketplaces for local farmers and vendors, authorities are pulling out all the stops to help local residents overcome economic hardship and secure their livelihoods.
The central government has earmarked 1.7 billion won ($1.7 million) to compensate the fishing vessels that participated in the search for the missing bodies after the disaster, and the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperation has granted a 300 billion won special loan to local fishermen.
But more can be done, experts say.
Buying the products of Jindo is one way to help.
From July 31-Aug.1, the Prime Minister’s Office opened a marketplace in the Government Complex Sejong, at which Jindo farmers sold their products to Sejong locals, including public officials.
More than 300 people participated in the campaign. Prime Minister Chung Hong-won showed up at the kiosks to support the farmers.
The Ministry of Security and Public Administration created a booklet introducing Jindo’s fishery products, and recommended that officials purchase anchovy, brown seaweed, red prawn, kelp, laver and abalone from the region. These six sea products will also be supplied to cafeterias at government complexes in Sejong City, Gwacheon and Gwanghwamun, Seoul.
“At the Gwanghwamun complex, there are up to 1,400 people who dine daily at the cafeteria. We hope that by supplying the seafood, we can help Jindo,” said Kang Seok-tak, a ministry official.
The ministry has also put up a banner on its internal network site, www.invil.org, to promote consumption of Jindo specialties, in addition to making plans to open a market in the Gwanghwamun government complex. NongHyup Hanaro Mart and the online shopping mall Gmarket will also take part in the promotional activities.
“I hope our efforts will help give hope to the Jindo residents,” Public Administration Minister Chong Jong-sup told the press.
Those seeking to directly purchase Jindo goods can visit www.jindomall.com or call (061) 541-9786.
To help attract tourists, Seomang Port of Jindo ― currently the location of a dock for fishing vessels ― will be transformed into a multipurpose leisure facility by the end of 2016.
The Oceans and Fisheries Ministry announced earlier this month that Seomang Port is one of 10 local ports to be renovated. The government will supply a total of 40 billion won to commence work on the project as early as later this year.
Seomang Port on Jindo will be transformed into a leisure-culture complex as part of the government’s efforts to revitalize the region’s economy. (Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries)
“There has been a chronic shortage in docks for fishing vessels because the port has not been expanded since 1991. Given that up to 2,500 tons of fish worth 28 billion won are traded at the port every year, according to figures from the Jindo branch of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperation, things have been too crowded and inefficient,” a Jindo County official said.
“A 195-meter breakwater will be established to build a dock exclusively for fishing vessels, while a leisure-sports town will be created for tourists,” he said, adding that the new dock will also help attract more crabs, cuttlefish and croakers, which are classified as Jindo specialties.
“Seomang Port will be linked with nearby Jindo Port so that the two can help form a pillar of culture and leisure in the South Jeolla tourist industry. With it, we also hope to create a bigger growth momentum for the local economy,” Lee Dong-jin, Jindo County Mayor, told the press.
Urging public awareness
Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Lee Ju-young on Aug. 18 urged large corporations and public organizations to purchase Jindo specialties including seafood and agricultural products.
“The residents of Jindo are suffering from a decline in tourism and falling sales in local delicacies and specialties,” Lee said in a message to the firms.
“The seafood of Jindo is known to be chewy because of the region’s strong currents, which makes the products stronger and more resilient. I therefore believe it would be mutually beneficial to consume Jindo’s specialties, and I also hope that more companies and people buy them for the upcoming Chuseok holidays.”
On July 17, Oceans and Fisheries Ministry spokesman Park Seung-ki officially requested the cooperation of corporate CEOs and editors of the nation’s media outlets to help out the Jindo economy.
“We suggest for the media to help Jindo by highlighting its attractions as a tourist spot, a move that would provide the much-needed support for the region to recover from the Sewol Ferry disaster and find momentum to build a new future,” the spokesman said, echoing the minister’s comments.
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com)