"Getbol, the Korean Tidal Flats" support exceptionally rich biodiversity, and provide a vital stopover for millions of waterbirds on their lengthy migratory journeys.
Recognizing their value, the World Heritage Committee officially added Getbol to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites late Monday at its 44th session in Fuzhou, China.
The Getbol are comprised of four southwestern tidal flats spanning five municipal regions in South Korea the Seocheon Getbol, Gochang Getbol, Sinan Getbol, and Boseong-Suncheon Getbol.
Widely considered the most spectacular intertidal wetlands in the world, experts say it's especially significant to protect these areas as they provide sanctuary for migratory waterbirds in eastern Asia.
"Millions of migratory waterbirds, shared by the 22 countries of our Flyway will benefit, including globally threatened species such as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Far Eastern Curlew, and Hooded Crane."
The listing was a pleasant surprise for South Korea as the advisory body to the World Heritage Committee the International Union for Conservation of Nature deferred Getbol in a preliminary review despite recognizing the tidal flats' contribution to biodiversity.
However, despite the deferment, South Korea did not give up.
"Close cooperation between the Cultural Heritage Administration, Office for Government Policy Coordination, foreign ministry, Oceans and Fisheries ministry and local governments, along a strategy to actively persuade countries on the committee about Getbol's value made this accomplishment possible."
Although Getbol have been successfully inscribed, an expert says more work is required ahead of the World Heritage Committee's 48th session in 2025.
"We need to extend the buffer zone and add further areas for waterbirds, such as the tidal flats in northern Incheon, to make it more complete."
President Moon Jae-in also sent a congratulatory letter promising to make Getbol a valuable world heritage that all humankind can protect and share.
South Korea is now home to 15 World Heritage sites, with Getbol becoming the country's second natural site after Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes were inscribed in 2007.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang News.