Paddy fields tourism yields profits for Heilongjiang’s ethnic Koreans

 Monday, September 18, 2023 


Rolling paddy fields are not just a source of food, they are also tourist attractions where urban dwellers can enjoy the beauty of the countryside.

Villages in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, one of the country’s major granary regions, have taken the opportunity to develop local tourism through rice fields.

Zhongxing village is one of them. The village is located about 10 kilometers from Mudanjiang, and the majority of its population belongs to the Korean ethnic group.

Walking to the end of the residential part of the village and seeing the idyllic rice fields in the hills, visitors are often awed and stop to take photos.

On the trails running through the fields, villagers dressed in traditional Korean costumes often perform dances for tourists, clearly visible as the bright colors of their clothing stand out against the green backdrop.

Many visitors rent costumes and have photos taken in the traditional styles of the Korean ethnic group.

Though it would be difficult to imagine today, Zhongxing was once locally referred to as a hollow village, as 90 percent of its residents would leave to work in cities or abroad, mostly in companies with South Korean investment or in South Korea itself, said Ge Ruifa, Party chief of Zhongxing.

Ge said the village has improved its environment and upgraded its facilities to attract tourists, and developed a tourism industry through village-company cooperation, collective management and market-based operations.

Zhongxing is now a popular destination for short stays and hosts an average of 1.5 million visitors a year.

To accommodate the rising number of tourists, the village has encouraged people to build spare houses into homestays or restaurants. Many have white walls and blue roofs in a traditional Korean style.

The locals now prefer to remain in the village as they can earn money by renting out rooms, starting their own businesses or seeking local employment, and they also receive dividends from the village’s businesses. The per capita annual net income has reached 35,000 yuan, Ge said.

Sui Yinglan moved to Zhongxing from Mudanjiang two years ago.

Shangguandi village, which is also administered by Mudanjiang, is a major producer of a high-quality rice variety that requires the specific geological conditions found in the area.

Shangguandi has also turned its farming area into a large park, where tourists can enjoy the views, celebrate agricultural festivals and learn farming skills.

The whole industry also benefits the surrounding villages and provides about 5,000 jobs.

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