중앙데일리

Island barring smoking, cars, lights

Dec 28,2009
Tourists ride bicycles on Jeung Island. An experiment to transform the remote island in South Jeolla as a smoke-free, car-free and night lights-free village is underway. By Oh Jong-chan

Jeung Island, South Jeolla - A rare experiment to create an island free of cigarette smoking, cars and night lights has begun in Korea’s southern region.

Aiming to provide its people with a nostalgic rest while protecting its natural environment, Jeung Island of Sinan County, South Jeolla province, is challenging itself to become the “Slow City” where there is no pollution.

The island was designated in December 2007 by the International Slow Food Movement as a slow city.

The 28.16 square-kilometer (10.87 square-mile) island with 857 households is already a popular tourist destination. This year alone, 250,000 tourists visited the island, which has the largest salt pan in the nation.

In order to transform itself further to meet the definition of a slow city, the island has been campaigning to prohibit smoking.

Aware of the growing demand for more environment-friendly policies, Jeung Island has also banned chemical detergents.

There were only about 150 smokers on the island. However, 35 of them had already quit with the help from the public health care staff who have been running clinics in 11 villages.

Determined to drop its smoking rate from the 8.6 percent measured last July to zero by next spring, the county government also plans to request tourists to douse their cigarettes.

To do so, the county already removed three stores selling cigarettes and is currently trying to persuade the other four to leave.

The county’s local legislative council recently passed a bill restricting cigarette sales and designating the island as the “clean air zone.”

In response, Ahn Chan-deuk, 70, who quit smoking 5 months ago after 50 years of the habit said, “If the tourists are banned from smoking, we the villagers will have to make an example first.”

In another crusade, drivers will be forced to leave their cars at a parking lot located at the entrance of the island even after a bridge is completed in April to connect the island with the mainland.

The county government is arranging to build a parking lot which can hold approximately 2,300 cars.

According to the government, 650 cars owned by villagers of the island will be driven only during certain time slots. Tourists will have to use bicycles, electronic cars and oxcarts to travel.

Another ambitious effort is creating a “dark sky” over the island next year.

The island officially joined the International Dark-Sky Association last April. “We hope to make the night sky dark and stars easily visible and remove environment disruption created by the artificial lighting,” explains Park Kwan-ho, representing the Culture and Tourism department of Sinan County.

The first step will be to create shields for 385 streetlights to lower their intensity.

Additionally, light from houses will be blocked with blinds.

“It may feel uncomfortable, but Jeung Island will still be a popular vacation destination because we can provide true rest and calm,” said Park Woo-ryang, Sinan County head. “We will also regulate the number of tourists entering the island because we don’t want a crowded island. We want to create an .?.?. attractive island.”


By Lee Hae-seok [enational@joongang.co.kr]




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