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JDC's vision of Jeju as a Free International CityAn update on the six core projects
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승인 2011.06.10  11:13:36
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Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) has been charged with the task of turning Jeju Island into a free international city.

Toward this end, JDC is developing six core projects, several of which have been reported on by The Jeju Weekly in various stages of development.

Upon request, JDC provided an update on each project.

Jeju Global Education City (JGEC)

▲ Photo courtesy Jeju Free International City Development Center

North London Collegiate School – Jeju, the first school of JGEC, is scheduled to open in September.

The construction, begun last August, is expected to be completed by August of this year. As of March, the building framework was finished, and the interior and exterior design are in progress.

Recruitment of both teachers and schools is on schedule.

In April, the first screening of domestic students was held; out of 845 applicants, 390 students passed the entrance exam. Eighteen foreign students have also been admitted, bringing the total to 408. Peter Daly, the principle of NLCS-Jeju, met with parents of incoming students on May 16.

This figure, “beyond expectation,” is double that of accepted applicants to other international schools in Korea. NLCS has a total capacity of 652 and held a second recruitment domestically on May 22; a second overseas recruitment will take place later this month.

Branksome Hall – Asia, a Canadian school, has signed an MOU with JDC and will open in the fall of 2012. MOUs are now being prepared with two American preparatory schools, St. Albans and Noble & Greenough.

For clarification purposes, Korea International School in collaboration with Jeju Education Division is opening a public international school in the JGEC region, but it is not actually part of the JGEC project and not affiliated with JDC.

Jeju Science Park

The science park has already opened, and JDC moved its headquarters into the building last October. Considered “the cradle of Korean IT and BT [Biotechnology] industries,” the project has sold 70 percent of its industrial lots and leased 50 percent of its corporate offices. As of this date, 47 companies have contracted to relocate there, a number that is rapidly increasing.

Healthcare Town

Following complex negotiations with multiple owners, the industrial site for this ‘medical tourism’ initiative has now been fully purchased, and JDC is currently planning the infrastructure in preparation for construction.

The project will be developed in three phases, the first of which – for ‘wellness therapies’ – is scheduled to open in 2012.

The site has now been designated as an ‘investment promotion area’ which improves investment incentive, considered a bonus for the project’s success. It will be a ‘special medical zone’ connected to the Seogwipo tourism complex.

As this project must be centered around a top-quality hospital complex, the initial investment costs are quite high. In addition to the facility, cutting-edge equipment and technology, a top medical team and R&D investment are necessary.

Currently, Korean law prohibits the privatization, or operating on a for-profit basis, of domestic medical facilities. Foreign investors require strong domestic partners, representing a complicating factor for this project.

Further, as Korean law regarding foreign investors requires a minimum of US$5 million and 50 percent of the share, this makes domestic conglomerates more practical.

The privatization issue will be discussed in the National Assembly this month, and JDC is expecting favorable results.

Mythology & History Theme Park

▲ Photo courtesy Jeju Free International City Development Center

This project includes multiple facilities on three sites, and construction began on the Aerospace Museum last October. It is scheduled to open in 2013, and JDC has now signed an MOU with the Smithsonian Foundation (USA) to provide a world-class facility.

The theme park will be built at the same site as the museum. Projects on the other two sites include Image Theme Park and World Food & Beverage Experience, both in the planning stages. This set of projects is currently attracting many companies.

Seogwipo Port Projects

The first stage of the port project was completed in 2009 with the building of the Seyeongyeo bridge from Seseom islet to the mainland. It is receiving 1.2 million visitors annually.

The second stage, that of building a port for cruise ships, is being redesigned for better development and will remain in the planning phase through 2012.

The project has been somewhat controversial due to “many cultural assets” and “complicated relationships of understanding” with local citizens, thus necessitating the redesign.

Resort-type Residential Complex

▲ Photo courtesy Jeju Free International City Development Center

This project has engendered more than 80 billion won in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the largest amount of FDI in the history of the Korean tourism industry as of March. Construction is scheduled to begin in the second half of this year and continue into 2016.

Financial support for the six core projects is a critical factor. JDC’s duty-free shopping facilities are bringing in large sums of money, but foreign and domestic investors are also crucial to its success.

Thus, an additional project is being considered at this time.

Tentatively called Ice Symphony World, it would be a winter sports theme park to contribute to tourism in what is now the island’s low period. The profit of this venture would be used for contributing additional business to the community.

Addressing the question of how these ventures will improve the lives of Jeju residents, JDC representatives stressed that their projects overall will establish a tourism infrastructure that does not currently exist, raise the demand for tourism generally, and contribute to the local economy.

It was further reported that these projects will provide jobs, increase both residential and transient populations, provide a consumption of and demand for local services and products, and increase Jeju’s brand power and competitive edge both domestically and internationally.

In addition to the six core projects, JDC has two civic programs which contribute directly to the local community and involve all JDC staff members.

The JDC Academy has been in operation for six years. The ‘global academy’ (for adults) and ‘adolescent academy’ have been joined this year by a program for university students which provides transferable credits.

The purpose of this program is to increase human resources by contributing to global awareness, including a business internship program for university students, English camps for elementary and secondary students, and an essay contest for the latter.

The second such project is the JDC Dream Volunteering Corps. Led by the JDC chairman, all departments share roles and all workers participate. The program has four goals: (1) the globalization of Jeju people; (2) the support of neglected people; (3) the development of a ‘green’ Jeju; and, (4) the support of local arts and culture.

Indicating their awareness of some local controversy, JDC provided this official statement: “By developing Jeju as a free international city, this gives Jeju people the largest and most direct benefit. Please remember this point. We ask [for] your encouragement.”

Dr. Hilty is a cultural health psychologist.

ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (
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