Published On: Sun, Jul 7th, 2024
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Beautiful village brings in drastic 5pm curfew to stop noisy tourists | World | News

A beautiful village popular with tourists has taken drastic action against noisy visitors waking up locals.

Tourists in one part of the Jongno District in Seoul, South Korea, will need to stick to a strict 5pm curfew. The iconic city is struggling to cope with over-tourism following noise complaints from its residents, with fines for those who break the regulations.

Bukchon Hanok Village will be closed to visitors from 5pm to 10am everyday from March next year in an attempt to stem the high numbers of tourists, the district office has announced. Those who break the regulation will be charged a fine of 100,000 won – or about £57.

Bukchon Hanok is home to many traditional Korean houses, known as hanok. This has made it an incredibly popular tourist destination, with an estimated 6.44 million visitors annually.

As such, tourists greatly outnumber the village’s residents, which stands at around 6,100 according to 2023 district data. This has resulted in friction with the residents who live there.

Jongno District Office listed the village’s 279 acres of land, including parts of the Samcheong-dong and Gahoe-dong neighbourhoods, as a “specially controlled area” under Korea’s Tourism Promotion Act on Monday. This motion enables the district office to control the area’s tourists, which it plans to do through three colour-coded zones.

The red zone, around Bukchon-ro 11-gil – where most hanok are located – draws the highest number of tourists. It is in this area that the 5pm to 10am closure, and the fine, will apply.

Bukchon-ro 5ga-gil and a part of Gyedong-gil, where restaurants, cafes and several other residential hanok are located, have been designated as orange zones, which do not have a curfew — but staff will be present to monitor activity.

Bukchon-ro 10-gil has been named a yellow zone, and district officials will be observing the area’s tourist flow and upgrade its zone status as required. A trial run is set to commence in October, according to Korea JoonAng Daily.

The District Office is also working to restrict public buses inside the village and plans to cut out bus stops along a 0.9-mile stretch of Bukchon-ro, beginning from Anguk Station to the entrance of Samcheong Park by January 2026. A trial run is expected to happen in July next year.

The Office said that it received 202 resident complaints last year regarding poor tourist behaviour, including noise, illegal parking and leaving rubbish in the streets.

Following the success of numerous South Korean dramas – or K-dramas such as Squid Game (2021) – on sites including Netflix and Disney+, several filming locations around the world have struggled with a sudden onslaught of visitors. This includes Shilla Millenium Park and Gyeongbokgung Palace have been made famous by dramas including Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (2016) and The Moon Embracing the Sun (2012) respectively.

Similarly, the Swiss village Iseltwald, which featured in the 2019 hit “Crash Landing on You”. According to the local tourism office manager Titia Weildand in 2023, the village saw 1,000 visitors for every local person – around 400 – since the previous year, reported Euronews.

While recognising the benefit of tourism, Weildand added: “But it’s been quite overwhelming to have that many tourists coming so suddenly, and also coming for a very short visit.”

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