Four remote villages where King Sejong, the creator of the Korean alphabet, went to cure an eye infection and put the finishing touches on his unique writing system, have been renovated to attract modern visitors, officials in the central city said Wednesday.
Housed within this city, some 137 kilometers south of Seoul, the villages -- Jeogok, Usan, Sangdangsanseong and Hyeongdong -- are part of the Sejong 100 project being pushed by the municipal government.
Hangeul, one of the world's simplest and most sensible writing systems, was created in 1443 by the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) king. It was promulgated three years later to replace the old writing system based on Chinese characters, which were typically out of commoners' reach.
Toward the end of his creation process, the king is told to have moved to a temporary palace in Cheongju to treat an eye infection caused by overwork.
Motivated by this journey, Sejong 100 revisits places where one of Korea's most beloved kings went to recover from his daily stresses.
New village centers have been built in the four localities that connect the 40-kilometer tourist trail of Sejong 100, inside of which are book cafes, media artwork and galleries, officials said.
Audio interviews with villagers, folktales and nature sounds have been recorded to play along the walking trail of Usan. In addition, an archive of rare books on the architecture of Sangdangsanseong, a mountain fortress, has been created in the namesake village.
Despite the city's efforts to develop content unique to Sejong 100, however, the project hasn't seen the attention it hoped for.
Low accessibility has been cited as the main reason. At its current state, the Sejong 100 tourist trail requires people to bring a car. Therefore, tour buses or more frequent buses that bring people to the area are necessary, tourism experts say.
A lack of accommodations and the absence of tour guides have also contributed to the below-expectation reception, according to these experts.
Kang Wan-gyu, a writer in charge of renovating Jeogok village, said the municipality needed to step up efforts to see the project take off.
"There's a limit as to what villagers or artists like us can do to make this happen," he said. "How much the municipal government wants (it to succeed) is important." (Yonhap)