One Example of Growing Sustainable Tourism and Development in a Small City

Mayor of Hadong Youn Sangki

Hadong, known as the land of slowness, is a pastoral town surrounded by mountains, rivers and a sea. 

(For instance, it is adjacent to Mt Jiri to the north, the Seomjin River to the west and 

the Namhae [South Sea] to the South.) 

And its beautiful but isolated geography made it difficult to form a large city and create economic growth. 

Even while Korea was achieving unprecedented economic growth, 

this village was far away from development just like the distance between Seoul and Hadong. 

But now Hadong is, slowly but surely, changing.


The change that Hadong is making isn’t the opposite of the concept of slowness. 

This change neither denies nor destroys slowness. 

It is a new change, taking advantage of the legacy of slowness accumulated in Hadong’s rich history. 

In the midst of this change, is one visionary, Mayor of Hadong, Youn Sangki, 

who is trying to create a vision for sustainable tourism and development.

edit Kim Jeongwon

photo 하동군청 제공

It was 2014 when Mr. Youn took office.

 From his first year, Mr. Yountried his best to turn Hadong into a more sustainable, 

active, and livelier place, and the numbers are quite impressive. 

According to statistics, each year from 2014 to 2017 the number of tourists

visiting Hadong exceeded 6 million, heading for 7 million. 

The number of 6 million tourists is 120 times bigger than the number of residents in Hadong. 

More specifically, there are 25 annual festivals that have already been held or planned in 2019. 

Among them, the Hadong Wild Tea Culture Festival and the Hadong Bukcheon Cosmos and 

Buckwheat Flower Festival have gained attention at the national level. 

In particular, the latter has attracted 1 million tourists. 

Mr. Youn says, “We are trying to create satisfying memories for everyone who visits Hadong.”

In addition to that, Mr. Youn succeeded in globalizing 

the Hadong green tea which has a history of over 1,000 years. 

Following the registration of Hadong Green Tea as a National Agricultural Heritage commodity, 

he put the green tea industry on the list of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage 

Systems maintained by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. 

Also, he developed a 100-ton export contract with the U.S. head office of Starbucks. 

Now Hadong Green Tea can be enjoyed by people all around the world, not just by Koreans. 

Hadong, once remote and almost forgotten, 

is truly evolving into an “actively slow” city with future visions.

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