Visitors from China to Jeju Island in Korea up 66% compared to last year

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Being separated from the mainland and with a certain degree of autonomy, Jeju Island in Korea has for a few years now been the only place in Korea that PRC citizens can visit without a visa. It's also an extremely convenient place to do anything since the airport is just a few minutes from the centre of town. When going to Seoul in comparison it takes about 70 minutes to get from the airport in Incheon to the centre of Seoul where all the action is. An article here has some information on tourism in Jeju.

According to the article the number of people from Jeju that passed the 2010 Tourism Interpretation Guide Test was 5 for English, 12 for Japanese, and 27 for Chinese. As I've written before the low numbers English always ends up with in these tests is simply due to the large number of people that can already get by in the language, so when English is needed for a position a candidate may simply be trusted to be able to do the job if they have some overseas experience or a good TOEIC/TOEFL score, or a company may simply conduct part of the interview in English to test their ability. With Japanese and Chinese though there is much more of a need to rely on a test such as this one.

The number of Chinese citizens visiting Jeju was 367,649 as of October, a 66.3% increase from last year, and the number is expected to surpass 400,000 by the end of the year. In contrast to this, there are only 30 qualified interpreters according to the article. Jeju needs a lot more of them.

As the mildest part of the country, it's often called the "Hawaii of Korea" though that's a bit of a stretch. It's more like the Oregon of Korea. Checking the weather in Seoul it was quite cold today and now at night it's -5. Down in Jeju it's...3 degrees. And tomorrow in the afternoon it'll be up to 3 degrees here in Seoul, +12 in Jeju. So it's always noticeably warmer down there, but certainly no Hawaii. Nevertheless because the temperature doesn't drop a great deal at night you do get to see some pretty exotic-looking trees down there that you never see here.

And just to give an idea of how convenient the airport is there compared to here in Seoul, here are two maps to scale. First a map showing Incheon International Airport on the far left and Seoul on the right. This is the distance you have to travel to get to where anything happens. I live on the far right just under the river where it bends a bit to the north and then turns to the southeast again.

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Now Jeju Airport and the city (also called Jeju, or Jeju-shi) to scale.

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The distance you cover just from the airport to Seoul is almost like going from one end of the island to the other, and we can't even see the airport at this scale. Let's zoom in:

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Okay, now we can kind of see it. There's the city with the airport symbol right next to it. The mountain in the middle is the volcano in the centre of the island. Let's do one more zoom in:

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Add to that the small and local feel of the airport, and anyone living in Jeju is already some 90 minutes closer to the rest of the world than anyone in Seoul, in spite of not having as many direct places to fly to. Since sleeping on an airplane is horrible though, I think being able to sleep in an extra hour at least in your own home before leaving for the plane makes it well worth it. That along with the nicer winter weather is what makes the idea of living in Jeju quite tempting sometimes. The downside would be...the crazy rain. Seoul has a rainy season, Jeju has a rain falling at a 45 degree angle season. There's a reason it's so lush there.

Want to walk around the top of the mountain? Here you are.

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