A United Nations list of the world's best tourism villages this year includes two in Korea.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Dec. 2 said "Purple Island," comprising the islands of Banwoldo and Bakjido in Sinan-gun County, Jeollanam-do Province, and the villages of Goindol and Ungok Wetlands in Gochang-gun County, Jeollabuk-do Province, were on the list released by the U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The UNWTO launched the list this year to evaluate and certify villages around the world that conduct sustainable development through preserving and promoting cultural heritage and creating tourism using it.

The initiative was conducted as a global contest that targeted villages with a population of under 15,000 and based on farming, forestry, fishing, or livestock. A combined 44 villages were selected for the list from 170 final candidates in 75 countries based on consideration of cultural and natural resources, potential, economic and social sustainability, and cooperation between the public and private sectors. 

Located in the southwestern Korean Peninsula, Banwoldo and Bakjido are collectively known as Purple Island, where around 130 people live in a fishing village. The Sinan-gun office and island residents took a hint from the bellflower that grows naturally on the two islands and painted purple all facilities such as roofs and bridges that connect the islands. And by planting purple trees and flowers all over the islands, they transformed their village into a purple-colored tourist attraction year-round.

Taking about four hours to reach Seoul, the villages of Goindol and Ungok Wetlands in Gochang-gun have a population of 380. The completion of the Ungok reservoir prompted people to move to the village.

Ungok is considered a benchmark for efficiently responding to rural problems such as an aging society and population decline through ecological and cultural tourism by using dolmen sites and Ramsar-registered wetlands.

Collectively known as "Purple Island," the islands of Banwoldo and Bakjido in Sinan-gun County, Jeollanam-do Province, form a tourist hot spot thanks to purple-painted villages and purple trees and flowers.

The villages of Goindol (left) and Ungok Wetlands (right) in Gochang-gun County, Jeollabuk-do Province, use dolmen sites designated UNESCO World Heritage and Ramsar-registered wetlands as sources of ecological and cultural tourism.