The World Rowing Championships (WRC) will begin today,Sunday, in Chungju, a quiet town in Korea’s central region which hopes the event will help raise its international profile as a tourist destination. Chungju is famous for Martial Arts Festival which is held every October.
The competition, which will continue through Sept. 1, will feature more than 2,000 athletes from 82 countries, making it the largest world championship ever.
The North Chungcheong Province town is only the second Asian city to host the rowing tournament, which took place in Kaizu, Japan, in 2005. The rowing course built on Tangeum Lake will also be used as the competition venue in next year’s Incheon Asian Games.
Pre-sale tickets have sold out. The opening ceremony scheduled for Saturday is expected to be attended by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a native of Chungju.
The municipal government spent around 67.2 billion won (about $60 million) to build state-of-the-art facilities at Tangeum Lake, including a 2.25-kilometer rowing course and a spectator stand capable of seating 1,100 people.
A floating, 1.4-kilometer concrete bridge was installed on the rowing course. The bridge is capable of holding broadcasting vans and other television equipment.
It remains to be seen whether the world championships will spark local interest in the sport, which barely registers with public consciousness.
Strong rowing nations include Britain, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and the Korean presence has been close to anonymous.
Korean athletes in recent months have shown flashes of improvement.
The best thing about Chungju is its serene beauty, it's mountains, lake and rice peddys.
I loved to go to Chungju and witness the new hub of sports events in Korea, since I'm very keen in martial arts and Chungju is the World's Martial Arts mecca so what can you ask for more. Attractions that are worth a visit include Martial Arts Museum (MAM), Apple Museum and a couple of monastries. MAM show cast the history of all sorts of martial arts in Korea and beyond starting from Taekyyeon to Taekwondo and to Hapkido.
Chungju is famous for its apricots and apples. I will strongly recommend people to add Chongju in their itinerary while in Korea.