“We live in an age in which culture, art and even nature need to be commercialized in order to succeed. We plan to capitalize on Jindo Island’s unique cultural resources to get the economy back in shape,” Lee said in an interview with The Korea Herald.
The governor, who began his second term in July, admitted that the county’s local economy and tourism industry suffered in the wake of the April 16 Sewol ferry disaster that touched off nationwide grief and fury.
“It’s been four months since the tragedy occurred, yet we are still struggling with the damages,” Lee said. “But I also want it to be known that the residents are trying to cope the best we can.”
|Jindo County Governor Lee Dong-jin (Jindo County Office)|
Amid the lingering social and economic side effects of the disaster, Lee has kept busy drafting long- and short-term plans to normalize the Jindo economy and figure out ways to generate revenue over the next four years.
“During my first term, my biggest task was to search for new growth engines. Now it’s time for implementation,” he said.
Lee’s policies are based on his ambition to raise the county’s annual gross income to 1 trillion won ($980 million) by boosting the agromarine industry and to attract an annual 5 million visitors.
Given that over 60 percent of Jindo Island’s residents’ income comes from agriculture and fishery products, he cited maintaining and expanding those areas as the key to promoting the region’s economic development.
Lee’s revitalization plans are based on 20 remedial action projects such as expanding the farming industry to include eco-friendly and organic agricultural products and launching a sales campaign to promote the county’s specialties, which include laver, abalone and anchovies.
“Jindo has a reputation for being one of the most naturally clean regions in the country, and our county will actively support the production of high-end eco-friendly agricultural products,” Lee said.
He said that his greatest achievement during his first term was attracting a 120-billlion-won investment deal with Zhangzidao Fishery Group, a Chinese aquatic products firm, to build the Fisheries Products Export Industrial Park on Jindo. The deal marks the first agriculture and fishery project to be undertaken through Chinese investment, he added.
The county is also aiming to boost tourism by combining Jindo’s unique folk culture with its naturally rich marine resources.
As part of such efforts, Lee’s office has embarked on a campaign to rebrand Jindo to promote it as a tourist-friendly region.
In 2013, the central government designated Jindo a “Folk Culture Special Art Zone” in recognition of its significant cultural and artistic value. The iconic Korean folk song “Jindo Arirang” originates from the island. The song has been added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
On the business side, Daemyung Group, a construction and leisure company, is investing 310 billion won in the county to build a massive oceanic leisure complex in Songgun, southeast Jindo Island.
The construction of the complex, which will be comprised of a hanok (traditional Korean home) hotel, condominiums, marina and entertainment facilities, will begin in 2015.
“Laying the groundwork and expanding the city’s infrastructure are essential for fostering the tourism industry through (utilizing) the county’s art and cultural resources,” the governor said
The infrastructure for more marine sports, leisure activities and ecological attractions will also be replenished to attract tourists from both home and abroad, he added.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org)