SEOUL, KOREA — Imagine 1000 year old trees, the purest mountain water, and a sky as blue as a robin’s egg topping the traditional medicine museum, medicinal herb garden, energy-treatment experience zone, and oriental theme park. In the valley of Jiri Mountain, a beautiful town is named after a world famous medical book, Mirror of Eastern Medicine, or Dongui Bogam- the first medical book published by the royal physician back in 1613.
Commemorating its 400th year since publication, this Korean town is generating “healing power springs” for everyone to come and recharge. Refresh to live healthy and young next Fall at Dongui Bogam village. The 2013 World Traditional Medicine Expo(2013 Sancheong Expo) at this village indeed offers great expectation. Experts expect the 2013 World Traditional Medicine Expo to be an international event that will serve as a platform for Korean Traditional medicine to establish itself in global industries and science.
The organizers are aiming to invite 1.7 million visitors from over 30 countries to this meaningful event that will be held for 40 days from September 10 to October 19, 2013, in the Dongui Bogam Village in Sancheong.
2013 Sancheong Expo was planned jointly by three host organizations last December: the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Gyeongsangnam-do, and Sancheong-gun. The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy finished a feasibility study in February of this year, and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance in March.
In August the International Events Review Committee approved the plan as an international promoters of the 2013 Sancheong Expo and the organizing committee gathered to celebrate the foundation of the committee, and to troubleshoot potential problems that could occur due to the demanding schedule for the event.
According to an estimate in 2007, the international market for complementary and alternative medicine is worth about US$ 207 billion, with the figure growing more than 10 percent each year. Many parts of the world, including China, are competing to dominate the traditional medicine market as more people are seeking traditional medicine to treat age-related illness and chronic or incurable diseases.
The Korean traditional medical world decided that it was time to enhance its competence and meet the increasing demand for traditional medicine. In that respect, 2013 Sancheong Expo will mark a turn- ing point for globalization in Korean traditional medicine and Dongui Bogam as a global brand, leading to more investment in the industry, and also for Sancheong-gun to become the center of the Korean herbal medicine industry.
Sancheong became the host of the event, as it has long been considered an optimal place to grow medicinal herbs, and the homeplace of famous doctors of the past like Ryu Eui-tae and Heo Jun. Based on such history, Sancheong is fostering local industries for medicinal herbs, the Dongui Bogam, and Korean medicinal tourism. Its strength lies in its existing infrastructure, overall feasibility of the event plan, as well as the experience of having successfully organized the only government-appointed traditional medicine festival, the Sancheong Korean Medicinal Herbs Festival.
As part of the 2013 Sancheong Expo, the scenic Dongui Bogam Village and an additional 160 km2 land will house various events including academic conferences such as the International Congress on Traditional Asian Medicine (ICTAM); International Congress of Oriental Medicine (ICOM); and the International Dongui Bogam Conference. Over 10 exhibitions showcasing state-of-the-art Korean medicine and Dongui Bogam, as well as more than 40 events that will allow visitors to enjoy Korean Traditional Medicine, wellbeing programs, medicinal baths, and cultural performances. The organizers will encourage visitors to use this opportunity for not only learning more about the value of traditional medicine but also promoting their own health.
Traditional Medicine Village
The site of the main event, the Dongui Bogam Village, is already furnished with a traditional medicine museum, medicinal herb town, energy-treatment experience zone, and oriental theme park, while other facilities like a recreational forest, medicinal herb garden, and a parking lot are under construction at the moment. The theme exhibition halls such as the State-Of-the-Art Korean Medicine Hall and the World Traditional Medicine Hall are well on the way to completion.
In addition, Sancheong is planning to operate a customized medical tourism program through the Korean Traditonal Medicine town, by linking the State-Of-the-Art Korean Medicine Hall and the Medicinal Herb Town.
The State-of-the-Art Korean Medicine Hall is an experience-oriented exhibition facility that combines cutting-edge medicine based on IT technologies with traditional medicine, providing a wide range of experiences that promote well being, Dongui Bogam, and traditional medicine from an industrial, academic and cultural perspective. As the traditional medical schools and relevant groups from different parts of the country are participating in the overall event, the organizers anticipate this to become an opportunity for both academia and local government to grow together.
Diverse traditional medicine from many countries from around the world will be introduced during the 2013 Sancheong Expo and will be sure to get the attention of visitors, as an increasing number of people are interested in tourism based on traditional medicine. This expo will shed new light on the value of traditional medicine by introducing different practices from over 30 countries and provide a wide range of health supplements, forest therapies, yoga, meditation, and aroma therapy experiences.
Getting to Sancheong
Sancheong is about 289 km, a little bit over 3 hours by car, from Seoul. For a faster and more comfortable journey, you can either fly from Gimpo to the Sacheon airport or take the Mugunghwa train to Jinju and come to Sancheong.
Touring Around Sancheong
Follow the winding path and you will soon find yourself enjoying the Korean traditional medicine tour around the mountain. Let’s begin the trip, by visiting the Korean traditional medicine healing town - Dongui Bogam Village.
Hometown of the Greats
Whatever you do, you cannot miss the hometown of Ryu Eui-tae, the famous doctor which taught the Great known as the writer of the Dongui Bogam Heo Jun. This county not only produced many renowned doctors, but also is the home to many Korean traditional medicinal herbs.
After passing Sancheong Interchange, you will soon arrive in Dongui Bogam Village where you can visit the Korean traditional medicine museum and the oriental theme park and also enjoy the energy-treatment experience. Later, after Guhyeong Royal Tomb, according to the daily tour course, you can enjoy the Ryu Eui-tae mineral spring and Sancheong-Hamyang memorial park.
Traditional Medicine Recreation
Dongui Bogam Village was built as a tourist attraction for traditional medicinal recreation. Located on the foot of Wangsan, where Heo Jun dedicated himself to medical service, this village is the first health tourism resort in Korea that is based on traditional medicine. While the medicinal herb town including medicinal herb garden and forest allows you to refresh the five senses, the Korean traditional medicine museum, designated as ‘Sancheong Jirisan Medicinal Research Special District,’ has an herb exhibition hall and store and is also the site for the ‘Sancheong Korean Medicinal Herb Festival’ held in May every year.
Next, Ryu Eui-tae mineral spring is where the doctor allegedly collected water for producing his medicine. Many people still visit the spring which is, according to Ryu, “effective on stomach and skin disorders.” Ryu also noted that “taking spring water that is cold in the summer and hot in the winter for a long period can treat stomach cancer.” Ryu Eui-tae mineral spring has steamy water even during the winter and the water is favored for its nice taste.
If you have more time, you might also want to book and enjoy the treatment at the the Korean traditional medicine healing center within the village, where they are currently setting up the Korean traditional medicine forest and traditional Hanoks. You will be able to purchase the medicine prescribed at the healing center through the affiliated pharmacy in the village. Also, visitors can enjoy ‘San and Cheong’ oriental medicinal herb products, made with the herbs grown in Sancheong, as well as local produce including dried persimmons, pears, strawberries and mushrooms.
Interview with the Governor
For Lee Jae-geun, the governor of Sangcheong-gun, the 2013 World Traditional Medicine Expo in Sancheong, Korea(2013 Sancheong Expo) could make or break his career. He surprised people by announcing that he would resign if the county fails to host the expo. The governor risked everything because he believed this was a vital opportunity to change the history and status of Sancheong.
While the county is busy preparing for the international event that will celebrate the 400th year of the publication of the Dongui Bogam, translated as ‘Mirror of Eastern Medicine’ in English, a key manuscript in the history of Oriental medicine; the Korea IT Times sat down with governor Lee Jae-geun in Sancheong to learn more about the event.
Q : Tell us about the 2013 Sancheong Expo. How did Sancheong come to host such a huge event
A : This event has been planned to celebrate the 400th year of the publication of the Dongui Bogam. The government has been enthusiastically promoting the excellence of Korean traditional medicine and medical culture. This expo, which is part of such efforts, will be co-hosted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Gyeongsangnam-do, and Sancheong-gun. Sancheong was chosen in terms of balancing regional development and also for the projects that the county has been undertaking so far.
Located on the edge of the Jiri Mountains, Sancheong has produced numerous famous doctors as well as being home to many medicinal herbs. It is the hometown of Ryu Eui-tae, the teacher of Heo Jun. Heo Jun was the chief writer of this important text. The county holds the Sancheong Korean Medicinal Herbs Festival in May each year. Oriental medicine is the trademark of Sancheong, which will be further enhanced by the 2013 Sancheong Expo. Coincidentally, Dongui Bogam was designated as a Memory of the World by UNESCO while we were preparing for the event, so we decided to hold it in 2013 to celebrate the 400th year since its publication. It is a fitting time, I believe, as the global community is increasingly interested in alternative medicine and natural treatment.
Q : The event will likely attract many foreign visitors. How well-prepared is the infrastructure
A : Many tourists from Korea and other countries are already visiting Sancheong to enjoy summer sports like rafting. Foreign visitors usually come to the county through Gimhae Airport. As the expo will likely welcome people from at least 30 countries, it has been a suggested that we should charter a plane at Sacheon Airport. Based on the opinions collected from neighboring governments like Sacheon-si and civic groups, we believe it is possible to cooperate with the airports or even the Air Force airfield. Accommodation can be provided by hotels in cities within a 1-hour distance like Jinju, Geojae-do, and Changwon. Also, visitors who want to experience the unique Korean traditional culture can stay in the Hanok Village in Sancheong as well as a special pension within the forest.
Q : What are the characteristics of Sancheong, the home of so many renowned doctors, and how do you grow medicinal herbs
A : Korean traditional medicine says that the energy from Cheonwangbong, one of the highest peaks of the Jiri Mountains, flows to Sancheong, which perhaps explains why many of the herbs with outstanding effects are grown here. I believe this also explains why the county produced such renowned doctors in the past like Ryu Eui-tae, Heo Jun, Chosam, and Chogye.
The general distrust of Chinese medicinal herbs once affected the medicinal herb industry. In response to the crisis, Sancheong began to cultivate the herbs using organic methods, and also introduced a production tracking system based on IT so that consumers can see where the produce comes from. Sancheong was the first to adopt this system in the Korean medicinal herb industry. In addition, the Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) certification was employed to inform the public what chemical fertilizers have been used. All of these factors strengthen Sancheong’s competitiveness. The county relies 100 percent on the rain to replenish ground water because there is no inflow from the outside, and you can drink the pure water without any problems. Naturally, the medicinal herbs are healthy and clean as well because of the water. Moreover, the county researches medicinal herbs and processes them into high-value products, while planning to further develop the local industries based on its clean, natural image and traditional medical tourism.
Q : The 2013 Sancheong Expo will certainly help to globalize both Sancheong and Korean traditional medicine.
A : The 2013 Sancheong Expo is not just for Sancheong. It is an event based on cooperation between the industry and academic world of Korean traditional medicine. While it is the academics’ role to provide accurate data on different effects and the use of different herbs, the industry must be able to commercialize traditional medicine as a Korean brand.
Q : The event is going to upgrade the image of Korean traditional medicine as well, it seems
A : We hope that this event will also provide a platform for the development of other industries like medical tourism. Sancheong is the place that has the power to influence industries related to traditional medicine, as the county is undertaking various projects for herb cultivation, research, and production of herb-related products, and even Korean traditional medical tourism. The Sancheong Traditional Medicinal Herb Institute, in which 20 billion won has been invested, is part of such efforts. I hope these plans and preparations will lead to the successful hosting of the 2013 Sancheong World Traditional Medicine Expo.