Damyang County: A Korean secret for tourism insiders

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Choi Hyung-sik is the Mayor of Damyang County in South Korea, and eTN Publisher Juergen Steinmetz had a chance to meet him and his son, Luciano Minwoo Choi, the CEO of Da Miror, a bamboo cosmetics company. This meeting that took place during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang was followed with a quick one-day visit of Damyang County to get a taste of what bamboo can do for the travel and tourism industry.

After 3 to 4 -hour train ride from Seoul, a whole new world to visitors to Korea opens up, where a bamboo forest, romantic villages, and a unique healthy food selection can be found, along with nature and spas in an environment that is so different from other tourism destinations.

Tourism is a major local industry in Damyang which is noted for its local products that include bamboo goods and strawberries. A village called Samjicheon is famous for its bamboo trees and was designated as a “Slow City” in 2008. Slow cities are characterized by a way of life that supports people to live slow, where there is less traffic, less noise, and fewer crowds. This designation is enchanting tourists to visit this delightful village.

Samjicheon has just a little over 500 residents with well-preserved traditional hanok houses and 3.6 kilometers of stone walls that meander around the town. The most famous hanok houses belong to the Go family which have been handed down through the generations and are now protected by the government. For a really special experience, visitors may spend a night in a hanok guesthouse, and there are also plenty of other types of accommodation on offer in this charming village.

Samjicheon village is well-known in Korea for its tasty local delicacies, and recently, bamboo is making its mark with tourists as well. The village is located close to the Korea Bamboo Museum, the Jungnogwon and Soswaewon gardens, and Sigyeongjeong pavilion, which are all good places for a relaxing stroll while enjoying the subtle scent of bamboo in the fresh air. The Junknokwon garden contains a spectacular dense bamboo forest that covers an area of approximately 160,000 square meters with around 2.2 kilometers of walking paths that wind their way through the bamboo forest.

The Bamboo Museum is a multi-functional complex that preserves, exhibits, and produces bamboos and Damyang’s unique bamboo art. The museum has five exhibition halls and a collection of approximately 2,600 pieces of bamboo art and various bamboo products, all of which are on display. The bamboo arts of Damyang have a history of 500 years, dating back to the early Joseon Dynasty. Some 500,000 guests visit this museum every year.

Visitors can watch three masters of bamboo craft at work in the Intangible Cultural Asset Training Center, as well as having a go at making bamboo products themselves. There is also a garden, where visitors can try out the swings made of bamboo branches and walk across a bamboo bridge.

eTN Publisher Steinmetz said: “This was such a great day to get a glimpse of a future international treat for visitors. I especially enjoyed the Climate Change Museum – a museum for anyone who is trying to understand the importance of climate change. Director Kook Song was able to explain to me how the phenomenon of climate change is working. What an eye-opening experience!”

 

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Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.