Ambassador Petar Andonov of the Republic of Bulgaria and 24 other ambassadors, senior diplomats, madams and international journalists from 15 other countries visited the Sancheong County of Gyeongsangnam-do at the invitation of Mayor Heo Ki-do of the County, and attended the 14th Sancheong Medicinal Herb Festival on Oct. 3, 2014.
The participating countries promoting affinity with the Republic of Korea through the tour, besides Uruguay, were Bulgaria, China, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, the European Union, Germany, Jordan, Lebanon, Russia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and Ukraine.
Mayor Heo and the leaders of the County, including Chairman Min Young-Hyun of the Hamyang County Council, greeted each ambassador and madam as they alighted from the bus beginning with Mayor Heo presenting a bouquet of live flowers to Ambassador Andonov who was senior and performed the role of the dean of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps.
At the welcome ceremony at the Main Conference Hall of the Sancheong County Government, Mayor Heo said, “More than 1,000 different species of medicinal herbs grow in the natural environment in Sancheong situated at the foot of the Jiri Mountains and therefore the County is very active in the production and processing of medicinal herbs together with the annual hosting of the Medicinal Herb Festival which has been designated by the Central Government of the Republic of Korea as an Excellent Festival.” (See excerpts from the speech towards at the end of this Article.)
In response to the welcome speech, Ambassador Andonov made congratulatory remarks on the Festival and expressed his gratitude to Mayor Heo for the kind invitation extended to him and his fellow ambassadors and diplomats.
Ambassador Andonov then presented a Plaque of Appreciation to Mayor Heo citing the importance of the tour of the ambassadors in the promotion of understanding, friendship and cooperation between Korea and the countries represented at the Festival.
The visiting ambassadors, diplomats and international journalists then visited the Village of Dongeui Bogang (Eastern Medical Handbook compiled by famed Joseon Dynasty Herb Doctor Heo Jun) and the Medicinal Herb Festival Site. There the visiting ambassadors and diplomats personally experienced taking of Gi (Energy) from the Heaven and the Earth.
Then they visited the Heo Jun Pilgrimage Route.
Korea’s famed novelist Lee Hyo-suk in his bestseller novel, When the Buckwheat Blossoms Bloom, wrote “The buckwheat field is all white covered with buckwheat blossoms as if someone had strewn white salt all over the field.”
If Hyo-suk were alive and were in Sancheong with the ambassadors, he would have again exclaimed, “Wow, Sancheong is all white with Gujeolcho!”
Thus, Sancheong was noted for all kinds of medicinal plants, especially Gujeolcho (Siberian Chrysanthemum) which literally covered the entire slope of the Gi (Energy) Park on the Heo Jun Pilgrimage Route. Gujeolcho, like Ginseng, was a cure-all.
The visiting diplomats then were invited to walk on a Foot Health Path which were made with various sizes of pebbles and logs that were designed to stimulate the soles of the feet by walking on them barefoot.
Then they ‘received’ Gi (energy) from the Heaven and Earth by touching the Gi Rock with their forehead.
This was followed by a visit to a Medicinal Herbs Field where they had a hands-on experience in medicinal flower-picking (Gujeolcho, yellow Siberian Chrysanthemum) and in making herb wine with the flowers picked from the farm. They also sampled medicinal herb pancake-making, medicinal herb tea and snacks (small rice cakes named Songpyeon that is normally taken during the Chuseok Full Moon Festival on the 15th Day of the 8th Month of the lunar calendar.
Excerpts from the welcome speech by Mayor Heo Ki-do of Sancheong County:
Welcome distinguished guests to the Sancheong County!
First of all I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Excellencies of Bulgaria and Slovakia and other distinguished Diplomats from Uruguay, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Timor Leste, Turkey, Venezuela and Vietnam and also the Chairman and staff of The Korea Post who have kindly arranged the tour for the members of the Diplomatic Corps. Together with the good wishes of the entire citizens of my County, I would like to extend our warmest welcome to all the distinguished guests here.
The Sancheong County is noted for the most beautiful natural environment in Korea as it is located in the area of the Jiri Mountains, the National Park Number 1 of the Republic of Korea.
More than 1,000 different species of medicinal herbs grow in the natural environment in Sancheong situated at the foot of the Jiri Mountains and therefore the County is very active in the production and processing of medicinal herbs together with the annual hosting of the Medicinal Herb Festival which has been designated by the Central Government of the Republic of Korea as an Excellent Festival.
The medicinal herbs naturally growing in the mountains and the fields are noted for their outstanding medicinal efficacy and quality and therefore it was the home of the noted Korean Eastern Medicine Doctor, Heo Jun of the Joseon Dynasty, who is the author of the famous medical book, Dongui Bogang, of the Joseon Period.
Dongeui Bogam, properly the ‘Principles and Practices of Eastern Medicine,’ was registered as Written Records of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. In celebration of this, Korea’s first Traditional Medicine Expo was held in Sancheong in 2013, which introduced Sancheong as the home of medicinal herbs.
I am sure that the visit of Your Excellencies and other senior members of the Diplomatic Corps today would provide an opportunity for the Sancheong Medicinal Herb Festival to evolve into a health-promoting festival of mankind.
The Oriental medicinal herb festival may not be a very familiar event to the Excellencies and other senior diplomats here, but I would be very grateful if all the distinguished guests here would have a wide variety of experiences here and an interesting time and remember the Festival for a long time.
I wish that the distinguished guests could stay longer in Sancheong but short of that I hope that your stay here would be a memorable one so that you would wish to come back to Sancheong again when you have time in the future.
I am sure that Your Excellencies and other distinguished diplomats have a very tight schedule and I am all the more grateful that you took such kind interest in our Festival and took time out of your busy schedule to grace our Festival with your presence. I hope that you will all have a good time while in Sancheong. Thank you.