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Korea vows full support for its resort island's bid for 'New7Wonders of Nature'

   JEJU ISLAND (Yonhap) -- South Korea promised Friday its full support to help its southern resort island win global recognition as an awe-inspiring natural site.

   Jeju Island has been vying against 27 other natural sites to become one of the "New7Wonders of Nature," a project initiated by the New7Wonders Foundation, a Switzerland-based nonprofit organization, in 2007.

   The finalists include the Grand Canyon of the United States, the Black Forest of Germany, Halong Bay of Vietnam and Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

   Public voting to select the seven new natural wonders is under way around the world online and by telephone, and will continue until Nov. 10 this year. Winners will be declared the following day.

   The title represents global recognition as one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world, a prospect that could have long-term economic benefits by attracting tourists.

   "I hope every one of you will participate in the voting for the Wonders of Nature to help Jeju draw many tourists from across the world," said former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan.

   Chung, who now heads a committee aimed at promoting the island, said the countries with sites selected as New7Wonders of the World have been enjoying a notable increase in foreign visitors. He did not give any details.

   The Swiss organization designated the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu of Peru among the New7Wonders of the World in 2007.

   In a symbolic show of Seoul's commitment, President Lee Myung-bak voted for Jeju and the parliament has adopted a resolution on Jeju's bid, said Culture Minister Choung Byoung-gug.

   "The government has put Jeju's bid on the top of the national agenda and is leading the promotion campaigns," said Choung.

   The volcanic island was named a World Natural Heritage site by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2007. UNESCO also designated Jeju a Biosphere Reserve in 2002 and a Global Geopark in 2010.

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