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22 May, 2018

PATA signs first peace-building pact with Buddhist temple in Korea

Woljeongsa Temple, Odaesan National Park, Korea — This beautiful Buddhist temple, located in the midst of Korea’s largest natural forest, was the site of the first peace-building agreement signed by the Pacific Asia Travel Association on 19 May 2018. The Memorandum of Understanding commits the signatories to “cooperate for the development of peace through tourism” and to “work together to foster improved inter-Korean relations” especially in the context of travel & tourism.

The agreement was one of the symbolic highlights of the PATA Annual Summit held in Korea, an event that fortuitously assumed enormous added importance against the backdrop of a peace outbreak on the Korean peninsula. The temple itself is located about an hour’s drive from the Lakai Sandpine Resort, venue of the PATA summit.

The agreement was signed by PATA CEO Mario Hardy and Abbot Toi Woo Jeong Nyum, along with selected special guests and speakers at the PATA Summit, Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, former UN Secretaries-General Taleb Rifai and Francesco Frangialli, Ambassador Yong-shim Dho Chairperson of the UNWTO Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) Foundation and Mr Kwon S. K., a former executive director of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism.

Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, the incumbent UNWTO Secretary-General, was invited to the PATA Summit but unable to make it.

Odaesan National Park, in the province of Gangwon-do, was first designated as the 11th national park in February 1975, including an area of 298.5㎢ centered on the highest peak, Birobong Peak (1,563m). Odaesan has the largest natural forest of Korea, home to many wild animals and plants.

Blessed with a sunny spring day, the signing took place just two days before Korea marked the birth anniversary of the Buddha. According to the official Korean tourism website, the birth anniversary is observed on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, with elaborate and solemn rituals being held at many Buddhist temples across the country.

More information about the temple can be found by clicking here.

This editor was the only travel trade journalist invited to cover the historic signing event. Here are some exclusive pictures.

The majestic Buddha image inside the temple.


The scenic natural environment of the Odaesan National Park where the Woljeongsa temple is located.


The interpretation signs giving details of the temple.

VIP guests Mr Rifai, Mr Bartlett and Mr Hardy arriving at the temple.


The guardians of the temple.

The elegant exterior facade.

The elegant exterior facade.

The full text of the agreement.

Mr Rifai signs…

Mr Bartlett signs

Mr Hardy signs.

Ambassador Dho signs

Abbot Toi Woo Jeong Nyum signs