The first “Island Day” was observed in a ceremony held on Samhak-do island, Mokpo on August 8 with thousands of islanders and dignitaries participating. More than anything else, about 3,000 people from 103 islands across the country attended the ceremony.
The commemorative ceremony began with a boat floated as part of the performance of "Eeodosana" by the Daepyong fishing village haenyeo on Jeju Island, which is sung to cheer up when haeyeo are going out to sea on a boat.
The first Island Day’s official celebration was held under the theme of an
"Island where meetings take place and an Island that opens up the Future."
It means that the island is a place where dreams for the world begin by meeting people and secure peace by connecting the land. The island is a place where people enjoy happiness and prepare for the future. Of note, eight values of the islands were presented: people, meetings, peace, connection, dreams, nature, happiness, and the future
The commemorative ceremony also featured performances by children. The Mokpo Municipal Boys and Girls' Choir, which represents land children, and the Sinan County Angel Orchestra which represents the islands, sang together the song "island village.” Pak Gyu-mi, a child of Jindo island, who overcame Down's syndrome, performed dance in tune with a children’s song.
Forty-two local governments across the country participated in the ceremony. In addition, residents of 103 islands, including Jeju Island, Ulleung Island, Baengnyeong Island, Jebu Island, Marado Island, Bijin Island and Sunyudo Island, gathered on Samhak-do Island for the first time to promote mutual exchange, harmony and communication.
Organizations that have contributed to islands development were given rewards during the commemorative ceremony. South Jeolla Province, which has successfully promoted an island development project and the establishment of an islands development support center, won presidential accolades for his efforts to enhance the welfare of islanders and improve their living conditions.
The Island Research Institute of Mokpo National University, Tongyeong City, Ongjin County and Jeju Tourism Organization were awarded the prime minister's citation in recognition of their efforts to advance the development of islands. In addition, Kwak Yu-seok, vice president of the Korea Global Island Foundation, won a prestigious reward for his work on the island's disappearing history and cultural records by focusing on the island's maritime and cultural studies, and Sugunjin's historical research. Park Eun-jeong, the head of a leading women's association in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, was awarded the prime minister's citation.
Addressing the commemorative ceremony, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon observed that “our country has many 3,300 islands ranging from the easternmost island of Dokdo to Gageo, a southernmost isle, but we lacked full understanding of real island values and thus paid scant attention to their development. I do hope that today’s Island Day events will give a momentum for rethinking the island values and future.”
Prime Minister Lee went on to say: "An island is a place for people to live, a forward base for territorial protection, a repository for traditional culture and ecological resources, and a hub for marine and fisheries industries. Let's change the island into a place of life where we want to live by recognizing its value, preserve its ecology and culture, and develop it into a hub for marine, agriculture and fishing industries."
He said the central government also plans to establish a comprehensive research institute to research on issues related to the islands and provide the results to people.
In addition to Prime Minister Lee, a number of political and government officials participated in the ceremony. They include South Jeolla Province Gov. Kim Yung-rok, Minister of the Interior and Safety Chin Young, National Assemblymen Park Jie-won, Seo Sam-seok, Yoon So-ha and Yoon Young-il, and mayors, county heads and provincial councilors across the country who manage the islands.