SEOUL, KOREA — The "greater value of the future, traditional medicine," is the topic at the World Traditional Medicine EXPO. This event will be held in Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea and will last for 45 days beginning on Sept. 6, 2013.
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the publication of "Donguibogam," the 25-volume encyclopedia on Eastern medical principles, the organizing committee for the 2013 World Traditional Medicine EXPO in Sancheong was launched on Feb. 24.
Delivering an address at the event, Kim Du-kwan, governor of Gyeongsangnam-do and chairman of the organizing committee, said, "We will host the EXPO successfully and take the initiative in leading the global traditional medicine market. It is the right way to pay our ancestors back their precious inheritance, called Donguibogam."
He added, “The EXPO will draw international attention to Sancheong since well-being and health are the most popular and important subjects of the time. Participants will have a chance to relax and enjoy a meal filled with healthy vegetables cooked with Oriental marinades, drink herbal tea and walk along ‘Heo Jun Road,’ honoring the author of Donguibogam."
The world famous medical book, Donguibogam, was added to the Memory of the World Register of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in 2009. It is the first medical book to be listed. In 2013, the book will celebrate its 400 year anniversary. UNESCO designated 2013 as the Year of Donguibogam to honor its historical and cultural meaning to the world.
A total of 43 dignitaries, including Lee Eo-ryeong, former minister of culture, sports and tourism, Lee Bae-yong, chairperson of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding, Lee Charm, CEO of the Korea Tourism Organization, were commissioned to be members of the advisory group for the 2013 World Traditional Medicine EXPO.
Meanwhile, some 400 dignitaries and guests from the political, economic, cultural, art, media and religious circles, including Kim Jeong-gon, president of the Association of Korean Oriental Medicine, constituted the organizing committee.
The ceremony was attended by more than 700 guests from the government as well as from the medical and other industries, including former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Lee Eo-ryeong who heads the committee, and Lee Jae-geun, governor of Sangcheong-gun. The renowned actor Lee Soon-jae was designated as the public relations ambassador for the EXPO.
"Aimed at creating more value through traditional medicine, we will introduce Korean Oriental medicine to more than 1.7 million visitors including 75,000 foreigners during the EXPO period," Gov. Kim said.
In the meantime, Gov. Kim, Lee Bae-yong, chairperson of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding, and Lee Charm, CEO of the Korea Tourism Organization, exchanged a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the EXPO’s success.
Lee Jae-geun, governor of Sangcheong-gun and chairman of the EXPO Foundation, said, "“Sancheong has been the home to many herbs that were once used as royal remedies. Historically, Huh Joon as well as many other noted doctors was stationed in the region to study and practice. The event will inject fresh air into the region and let the history meet the future.”
Delivering stirring remarks, minister, Ministry of Health and Welfare Rim Che-min said, "I am confident that the EXPO will bring back the heyday of Korean Oriental medicine and take it to another level. It will give Sancheong and Gyeongsangnam-do an excellent opportunity to advance into the global stage with its famous traditional medicine."
Asked about the organizing committee's preparation for the traditional medicine EXPO, Gov. Kim said, "We are carefully preparing for many events as scheduled, including infrastructure construction, on and offline promotions of the EXPO at home and abroad, academic, exhibition and tour events.
"We will hold the 16th International Congress of Oriental Medicine (ICOM) on Sept. 14, 2012 and the International Congress of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ICTAM) in September 2013 to shed light on the academic value of global traditional medicine."
The committee is also creating the Donguibogam Village and Oriental Medicine Cluster on a space of 1.6 million square meters in Sancheong by making the best use of existing infrastructure reducing the cost.
Among the buildings to be constructed is the second-floor theme hall, a symbol of the 2013 Sancheong EXPO. Other structures include the herbal medicine ecology resource hall, the world's traditional medicine hall, the bio energy hall, the healing experience hall and the Oriental medicine city green luxury hall.
"Presently, we are able to accommodate about 20,000 guests at 216 pensions, temples, training centers and other places in Sancheong. A total of 150,000 visitors, however, may use the lodging facilities in neighboring area within a 30-minute drive from Sancheong," he explained.
Effects on regional development
"The successful hosting of the 2013 Sancheong EXPO is expected to bring about a dramatic rise in sales of traditional tea, medicinal herbs, natural dyeing products and activation of Oriental medicine tourism," said Gov. Kim.
According to the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), the EXPO is likely to effect on KRW 295.5 billion-worth production inducement and KRW 132.5 billion-worth added value, creating a total 4,137 new job positions. In keeping with the rapid expansion of the world's traditional medicine market, Gyeongsangnam-do is actively fostering Oriental medicine as a new growth engine in the future.
In 2005, Gyeongsangnam-do designated a region in Sancheong-gun as the special zone for the Oriental medicine industry and spent nearly KRW 150 billion for construction of the Sancheong medicinal herb research center and the Oriental medicine museum, cementing the foundation for the future new growth engine industry.
"The Sancheong medicinal herb research center will develop valuable research technology through medicinal herb quality control and experimentation of the herbal medicine industry to produce top-tier oriental medicines, greatly contributing to the development of the nation's Oriental medicine industry," he said. "Along with this, we plan to link the modernization of Oriental medicine and other international events as a way to actively foster the future of the Oriental medicine industry,” Gov. Kim noted.
Plans for globalizing Oriental medicine
When questioned about plans to accelerate the globalization of Oriental medicine, Gov. Kim said, "The world has already been moving to preventive medicine from past therapeutic medicine. Developing countries as well as advanced countries are increasingly using traditional medicines these days. Because of an increase in the aging population and infectious diseases, the study on herb medicine and alternative medicine has progressed."
The volume of the world's traditional medicine market is expected to snowball from USD 200 billion in 2008 to USD 5 trillion in 2050. As the traditional medicine has emerged as a new “Blue Ocean”, a competition between countries has been fiercer ever since.
The market share of Korea's traditional medicine, however, reaches a mere 3 percent, falling short of 17 percent in China and 5 percent in Japan.
"Under such circumstances, the 2013 Sancheong EXPO can be a good turning point. In fact, we have had little chance to introduce the excellence of Oriental medicine to the world up to now. In accordance with that, if we introduce high-quality oriental medicine to foreign participants and let them have on-the-scene experience of the medicine's excellent effect at the EXPO, oriental medicine can stir up a new wave like 'hallyu (Korean wave),'" he explained.
Largely affected by a shift of modern medical science to preventive medicine from the past therapeutic medicine, a growing number of people are having keen interest in the well-being industry related to medicinal herbs to extend human's life span.
There are 8,000 different kinds of plants in Korea. Among them, 2,100 kinds are medicinal herbs. In particular, 1,066 kinds of medicinal herbs spread out in Jiri Mountain, the treasure house of native medicinal resources.
"If Sancheong becomes the center of the Oriental herbs, it will greatly contribute to enhancing scientific development of Oriental medicines," Gov. Kim stressed.
Ripple effects of Korea's medical tourism industry EXPO
One of the key reasons that Sancheong was named as the site of the 2013 traditional medicine EXPO was its favorable geographical and environmental conditions. Sancheong became the host of the event, as it has long been considered an optimal place to grow medicinal herbs, and the hometown of influential doctors of the past like Ryu Eui-tae and Heo Jun.
Based on such history, Sancheong is fostering local industries for medicinal herbs and Korean medicinal tourism. Its strength lies in its existing infrastructure, overall feasibility of the event plan, as well as the experience of successful organization of the only government-appointed traditional medicine festival, the Sancheong Korean Medicinal Herbs Festival.
“As a result, the infrastructure in Sancheong should be maintained even if the EXPO ends so that it plays an important role for development of the nation's medical tourism industry," said Gov. Kim.Commenting that the world's medical tourism has been on a steady rise, Gov. Kim said, "It serves as a green light for the globalization of Oriental medicine. Medical tourism, for instance, posted an increase of two or three times than before during the 2004-2010 period in Thailand, Singapore and India."
He also said, "Korea should escape from the cosmetic & beauty-oriented medical service patterns and pursue esteemed medical service strategies that link Oriental medicine-centered medical products and Oriental wellness."If we build up the foundation for globalization of Oriental medicine systematically with cultural pride, the Donguibogam Village in Sancheong will become the Mecca of new medical tourism in the near future," he added.
In the mean time, diverse traditional medicine from many countries 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 traditional medicinal tourism.
This EXPO will shed a new light on the value of traditional medicine by introducing different practices from more than 30 different countries, providing a wide range of health supplements, forest therapies, yoga, meditation, and aroma therapy experiences.
Getting to Sancheong
Sancheong is 289 km from Seoul which is approximately 3-hour driving distance by automobile. 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.
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 - Donguibogam Village. Though there are many exciting attractions, you cannot miss the hometown of Ryu Eui-tae, the doctor who taught the Donguibogam 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 Donguibogam Village where you can visit the Korean traditional medicine museum and the Oriental theme park and also enjoy the energy-treatment experience. Later, you can enjoy the Ryu Eui-tae mineral spring and Sancheong-Hamyang memorial park, and explore other beautiful sights this trip must offer.
Korea IT Times and Kyung-Hee University (the College of Oriental Medicine Department) run a Year Series of articles on “Traditional Korean Medicine Sparks Global Interest.”
July 2011 — Opening article in 12 parts- The World Loves Oriental Medicine. Introduction of Traditional Korean Medicine by Interviewing Kim Namil, Dean of College of Oriental Medicine, Kyung-Hee University (Published)
— World Traditional Medicine EXPO to be held in Sancheong in 2013. (Published)
April 2012 — Outstanding Specialist, Dr. Park Sang-dong, Board President of Dongseo Oriental Hospital
May 2012 — Donguibogam 400th anniversary project in 2013/ International Traditional Medicine Expo 2013 (co-hosted by Gyeongsangnam-do & Sancheong-gun from September 10 to October 19, 2013)
June 2012 — Outstanding Specialist – Dr. Yu Bong-ha, President of Oriental Hospital Kyung-Hee University and Presidential Practitioner of Oriental Medicine.
July 2012 — An Interview with the president of Association of Korean Oriental Medicine.