What comes to mind when you think about flying to Korea? Most of you probably thought of Incheon Airport, right? Incheon Airport, which has established as a global airport beyond just Korea, is a great source of pride for many Koreans.
Did you know that Incheon Airport could have been named Sejong Airport?
Since we’re all used to Incheon Airport’s name, Sejong Airport may sound a bit strange. However, it’s not rare for airports to be named after historical or famous figures. For example, in the US, there are airports named after former US Presidents: John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
Now, if you’re curious about how Incheon Airport got its name, it sure wasn’t as easy as simply naming it after the city of Incheon. Read on to find out the story behind Incheon Airport’s name!
A public vote to name the new airport… Sejong Airport ranked 1st
It all dates back to 1992 when construction for Incheon Airport began. At that time, New Airport Construction Headquarters held a public contest to name the new airport. As a result, 586 names were gathered from 1,644 applicants. The name that ranked 1st was “Sejong Airport” with 101 votes.
Now, curious as what rank “Incheon Airport” was? To many people’s surprise, “Yeongjong Airport” and “Incheon Airport,” which represent Incheon’s locality, ranked 6th and 8th, respectively.
However, the name “Sejong Airport” wasn’t adopted just because it ranked 1st in votes. The New Millennium Preparation Committee, an advisory group directly under the Office of the President, opposed and proposed “Incheon Millennium International Airport,” which delayed the naming process.
In May 1993, the Ministry of Land and Maritime Affairs announced three shortlisted names after gathering opinions from Cheong Wa Dae, Incheon City Council, Ministry of Culture, and newspaper editors: (1) Sejong Airport, (2) Seoul–Yeongjong Airport, and (3) Incheon Airport.
While there were differing opinions, there was a critical moment that led to the decision of adopting the name “Incheon Airport.” In 1996, the Incheon International Airport Naming Committee, which comprised Incheon citizens, submitted 600,000 signatures from its local residents. With these efforts and international practices which name airports after their regions, the new airport was finally decided to be named Incheon International Airport.
Story behind the name of Yeongjongdo, Incheon Airport’s island air base
There is another interesting story about the name of the region near Incheon Airport. Yeongjongdo where Incheon Airport was built was called Jayeondo in the old days. It means an island of purple swallows. FYI, Yeongjongdo means an island with a long history of lineage.
Taking a linguistic approach to naming an airport is interesting to say the least. “Swallows flying from an island with a long history of lineage” sounds like an airport where airplanes land and take off day in, day out. Furthermore, Eungdo north of Yeongjongdo was called an island of hawks, and Yongyudo connected to Yeongjongdo also means an island where dragons roam. It makes us think it was not a coincidence that Incheon Airport is located here. In fact, even those who were opposed to the location of Incheon Airport at that time were later amazed by this historical coincidence.
Today, Incheon Airport is growing with its region and contributing to promoting the geographical significance of Incheon around the world. Keep your eye out on Incheon Airport’s efforts to enhance the brand value of Korea beyond just Incheon!