JEJU CITY, South Korea – The Consulate General of China in Jeju officially started business on July 14. The Jeju consulate is China’s fourth residential office in Korea, following the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China and consulates general in Busan and Gwangju. This reflects a surge in Chinese tourists and investors to Jeju, while demonstrating the fruits of hard efforts by Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC, http://english.jdcenter.com/index.htm ) and Jeju Special Self-Governing Province to make Jeju an international free city like Hong Kong and Singapore.
During a press meeting, JDC Chairman Byon Jong-il, who is heading JDC’s core projects, including Jeju Global Education City and Jeju Science Park, said, “I hope that the opening of the Consulate General of China in Jeju will be an opportunity for Jeju to come closer to its goal of becoming an international free city.” He also expected that the consulate will help encourage many more Chinese people to visit Jeju for tourism and investment.
“JDC will make all-out efforts to attract more Chinese investors and students to Jeju as part of its Jeju Healthcare Town, Resort-type Residential Complex and Jeju Global Education City projects,” Byon said. “I hope that the Consulate General of China in Jeju will be a great help, in particular, to our publicity and marketing activities in attracting Chinese students to Branksome Hall Asia, which is scheduled to open this October.”
Jang Shin, Consul General of China in Jeju, said, “Jeju is one of the most popular tourist spots for the Chinese. Opening the consulate office in Jeju reflects China’s deep interest in Jeju.” Jang Shin said “I would like to take a lead in introducing Jeju and its unmatched natural beauty to China.”
In fact, the establishment of the consulate office in Jeju is somewhat belated in relation to the recent relationship between Jeju and China. The number of Chinese visitors to Jeju increased tenfold over the past ten years from 57,200 in 2000 to 570,200 in 2011. In the first half of 2012, 396,000 Chinese people came to Jeju, accounting for 59 percent of overseas visitors to Jeju (668,000). It is no exaggeration to say that China is driving the Jeju tourism market. Furthermore, when foreigners change flights bound for Jeju at Incheon International Airport, visas will not be required starting August 1 — a move that is expected to boost the number of Chinese visitors to Jeju. Chinese investment in Jeju is also booming. The Green Card through Investment program allows foreign nationals to receive a green card if they purchase more than US$500,000 worth of resort facilities in Jeju and remain for more than five years. Last year, a Chinese investor was granted a permanent resident card under the program.
Meanwhile, the Consulate General of China in Jeju will deal with matters to protect Chinese people who visit Jeju. With the help of the consulate office, Chinese investors are expected to carry out investment work more easily and safely. In addition, the consulate office will directly address complaints involving Chinese tourists in Jeju, such as denied entry and illegal residency, helping ease tension between Jeju islanders and Chinese tourists.