Steeped in 500 years of ginseng-producing history, Yeongju prepares for future
By Lee Yeon-woo
The southeastern city of Yeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, is home to premium ginseng.
Every year, the city hosts a ginseng festival to encourage tourists to visit and experience the medicinal root. This year, the city authorities were determined to go beyond the local festival.
To promote Korean ginseng’s value and boost its global competitiveness, Yeongju City will host the 2022 World Punggi Ginseng Expo from Sept. 30 to Oct. 23, under the theme, Ginseng, Embrace the World and Open the Future. The expo aims to help both locals and foreigners explore not only premium quality ginseng, but also ginseng derivatives, such as skin care products that use ginseng extract as an ingredient and ginseng food.
The expo will offer various information related to ginseng ― from its efficacy to new business opportunities ― at the Punggi Ginseng Cultura Pop-up Park located in Yeongju City, North Gyeongsang Province.
In Yeongju City, there is a ginseng district called Punggi. Ginseng from the region is famous for being offered to kings during the Joseon Dynasty due to its health benefits. In the past, when medicine was scarce and beyond the reach of many people, ginseng was a useful yet expensive alternative to treat ailments due to its reputation for boosting immunity and invigorating health.
The history of ginseng in Yeongju City dates back to 1541, when Ju Se-bung, the mayor of Punggi-eup, started cultivating ginseng in the region. He collected wild ginseng from the mountain and grew it in the field because he thought Punggi’s soil and the weather were appropriate for ginseng cultivation. Since then, Punggi ginseng has been widely recognized for its quality.
To seek new opportunities in business, the expo aims to globalize Punggi ginseng and broaden its scope to the medical, beauty and bakery industries, according to Yeongju City Mayor Park Nam-seo.
“Our first goal is to regain Korea’s status as the birthplace of ginseng by promoting Korean ginseng’s excellence. Our second goal is to seek ways to utilize Punggi ginseng in various industries, not just for food.”
Yeongju has hosted the Punggi Ginseng Festival every year, but the city prepared for five years to scale up this year’s event to promote Punggi ginseng’s globalization and revive the local economy. The expo will be the first international event to be held in the region.
The expo features five exhibition halls: Theme Hall, Life Science Hall, Ginseng Future Hall, Ginseng Promotion Office, and Ginseng Trade Hall. Various information related to ginseng, such as its type, history, and efficacy will be presented using interactive media.
The highlight of the exhibition will be the Ginseng Trade Hall, where 50 companies ― from distribution to the bio-industry ― will showcase their variety of Korean and overseas ginseng products and offer consultations to buyers.
However, the expo will not only take part in boosting the ginseng industry but also serve as a place where visitors and residents of North Gyeongsang Province can have fun and learn more about ginseng.
Famous singers including Insooni, Song Gain, and Jeong dong-won will perform at the opening ceremony, and street festivals will be held twice a day to encourage visitor participation. The expo park will be implemented on the metaverse platform so that the event can be enjoyed online too.
To guarantee safe and comfortable visits, the committee will also dispatch an average of 210 volunteers during the weekend. Around one million people are expected to visit the expo, according to Yeongju City.
“We have prepared various spectacles and enjoyable experiences for visitors. We will try our best to host an expo full of variety and make it the most anticipated event this fall,” Lee Hee-beom, chairperson of the 2022 World Punggi Ginseng Expo organizing committee said.
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