Jeju Island is Poised to Evolve into a Free International Tourist City
The Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) is focused on developing flagship industries, attracting foreign investment and carrying out PR work in a bid to catapult Jeju to one of the best global tourist cities. To learn the JDC's major projects and get a glimpse of what Jeju would turn into in the future, Korea IT Times interviewed the JDC.
Jeju Free International City Development Center
With the enactment of the Special Act on Jeju Free International City in 2002, Jeju Island, the best tourist city in Korea, is taking steps to become one of the best tourist and business cities in the world. To realize that vision, the JDC, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Construction and Transportation as a government-sponsored organization, has been tasked with the job of transforming Jeju into a free international city.
A new Jeju the JDC is pushing for is a city where deregulation guarantees the maximum convenience to companies and facilitates free flows of commodities, people and capital.
To that end, the JDC is pressing ahead with six major projects: the Jeju International Education City project, top-notch healthcare facilities, a world-class resort-type residential complex, Myths and History Theme Park, the Jeju science park project and the Seogwipo Tourism Port project.
The JDC has developed key industries such as tourism, medical services, education and eco-friendliness and state-of-the-art technology. By attracting foreign investment, launching PR activities and running duty free shopping centers, the JDC has moved towards the globalization of this island.
As for the Jeju International Education City project, the JDC held a ground-breaking ceremony for NLCS-Jeju, a campus of the UK's leading private school North London Collegiate School (NLCS). The campus is scheduled to open next September. Canada's Branksome Hall also signed a MoA with Jeju to open its campus on Jeju: the construction of its Jeju campus will begin in the first half of next year. On top of that, the US's St. Albans School also inked a MoU with us.
On the other hand, we held the ceremony of completion of the Jeju high-tech Science Park, which is expected to serve as the cradle of Korea's IT and BT, last March and the Jeju Science Park already began operating.
The construction of Myths and History Theme Park's Aerospace Museum is about to begin. The JDC has signed a MoU with the US's Smithsonian Institution so as to seek international assistance. We intend to make it Asia's best aerospace museum. In the case of building a world-class resort-type residential complex, Malaysia's Berjaya Corp. has already invested US $1.8 billion and launched a joint venture company Berjaya-Jeju Resort last year. The construction of a resort-type residential complex will be completed in 2015.
Jeju Science Park
The Jeju Science Park project is making the most progress at a vastly rapid pace relative to the six projects. Last March, we completed laying the groundwork for it and put up support facilities. As of now, we signed contracts with nearly 50 IT-and BT-related, high-tech companies such as ESTsoft, SK Energy and KAIST EMDEC. Many companies have already moved in and started their work.
In addition, CT&T, which is famous for its electric vehicles, it is making preparations for moving in. The Jeju Science Park is well equipped with electricity charging stations and offers the optimum environment for developing electric vehicles (EV). What's more, Daum, one of Korea's leading portals, is building its headquarters there, which will be completed next year. On top of that, we have teamed up with LG Electronics to work on eco-friendly development projects.
Jeju Global Education City project
The groundwork for Jeju Global Education City was laid out last year. In August of this year, British private school North London Collegiate School (NLCS) kicked off the construction of its Jeju campus. And Canada's Branksome Hall has also confirmed its entry into Jeju by signing an MOA with us. Moreover, we struck a MoU with the US's St. Albans School. All the schools that will be housed in the Jeju Global Education City are the most prestigious institutions of each nation.
Among them, the ground-breaking ceremonies for the NLCS-Jehu campus and Korea's first public international school were already held. They will be opened next September. Canada's Branksome Hall will start the construction of its Jeju campus in the first half of next year and St. Albans School also inked a MOA with us. With the opening of the NLCS-Jeju and Korea's first public international schools in September of next year, we aim to attract a total of 12 schools by 2015 to create a global education city where over 9,000 students are educated.
For your reference, the UK'S NLCS was selected as Best School of the Year by the Times in 2006 and by the Financial Times (FT) in 2008. The most import thing is that those schools to be built in Jeju are not localized international schools. Those schools will come to Jeju with their own programs whose quality has already been proven. Their curriculums are also run as a formal academic course, so students attending those schools will be armed with international competitiveness.
If the Jeju Global Education City project is carried out smoothly, the issue of massive capital outflow (worth over KRW 5 trillion) and the social issue of "goose father" (which refer to a father who lives alone in Korea having sent his spouse and children to a foreign country for English language training or advanced studies) will be eased to a great degree. Furthermore, by absorbing the demand for having English language training abroad, we will turn Jeju into an international education hub.
Features and future look of Jeju
Above all, Jeju prides itself on its beautiful scenery and well-preserved natural resources. Jeju was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002 and a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site in 2007. On October 4th, Jeju became the first Global Geoparks Network member in Korea.
As a result, Jeju has become the first in the world to have achieved the Triple Crown in the Natural Science Sector of UNESCO: Biosphere Reserve (2002), World Natural Heritage (2007) and Global Geopark Network member (2010). Therefore, if Jeju's beautiful scenery and clean environment are destroyed, the value of Jeju will evaporate. Thus, environmental protection and preservation come before anything else.
Another strength of Jeju is that it is roughly a two-hour flight from Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. In other words, its proximity to heavily populated global cities makes Jeju a strategic point in East Asia. That's why the Korean government created the JDC in 2002 under the Ministry of Construction and Transportation in order to build an international tourist city. Jeju Free International City development projects under the Korean government's Special Act on Jeju Free International City are not local projects, but a national project that has been implemented as part of the Korean government's endeavor for jacking up the competitiveness of Korea.
The JDC pictures Jeju growing into a free international city that rivals Hong Kong and Singapore and into a city whose natural environment remains intact. In addition, Jeju should be a place where diverse races and cultures coexist and smoothly communicate with one another.