The number of Chinese visitors to Jeju has exploded, bringing wealth and jobs, but also the generation of tension between the local population and some resentment towards tourists. Locals say that occasionally erupt clashes between Korean and Chinese visitors in shops and bars.
An increase in investment in China is also transforming the local economy and juice land prices. Condominiums, hotels and casinos are popping up around the island, a development welcomed by local officials eager to boost the economy of the dream island but opposed by some residents and businesses. A Korean-run hotel has raised a flag to deny rumors that had been bought by China after it was boycotted by some locals.
The lands of the Chinese people and developers in Jeju, known for its white sand beaches, volcanic landscape, clean air, more than double last year. A catalyst is offering South Korea permanent resident status for major foreign investors in Jeju, which are of the same medical benefits, education and employment that South Koreans.
Kim Tae-il, a professor at Jeju National University, likens it to a real estate frenzy in Hawaii in the late 1970s among Japanese investors who bought skyscrapers, apartments and other property as the yen rose against the dollar.
"The Chinese have come to the city and have started buying without having to worry about the price, as did the Japanese in Hawaii," he said.
Reflecting rising incomes and travel restrictions eased, the Chinese were the world's travelers abroad last year larger group, having more than 100 million trips outside the mainland. The research firm CLSA expects that figure to double by 2020, a potential boost economic attractiveness for countries that can attract Chinese travelers.
South Korea has been particularly welcoming for Chinese visitors to Jeju, waive the necessary visas to visit other parts of the country. The popularity of pop music and Korean TV dramas South China and a gradual appreciation of the Chinese currency has also helped attract visitors. So has the geography: Jeju is a one hour flight to Shanghai and 2 hours from Beijing. "The main reason for most people travel to Jeju is that without a visa. And the price of group travel is so cheap," said Willa Wu, Hangzhou, China, businesswoman who has traveled to Jeju several times.
The number of Chinese visitors to Jeju jumped 58% to 2.9 million people last year, almost half of a record 6.1 million Chinese tourists to South Korea in 2014. In another move to revive the local economy The authorities relaxed investment rules in February 2010, leading to permanent residency to foreigners who purchase goods worth at least 500 million won ($ 450,450) in the designated districts and hold them for five years.
"The increase in tourists and investment from China are helping to raise tax revenue and enhance brand of Jeju as a global tourist destination," said Kim Nam-sun, a director in the government of the province of Jeju.
Wealthy Chinese have regarded abroad as the property market in Asia's largest economy cools. Since the introduction of the program, more than 1,000 foreigners have applied for resident status. Chinese citizens account for 98%.
The total area of land in Jeju owned by Chinese investors jumped to 8.34 million square meters last year of 1.42 million square meters in 2011, the government of South Korea.
The wave of Chinese visitors and investment in Jeju also reflects the deepening economic ties between the two countries. China is the largest trading partner of South Korea and is the main source of South Korean tourists, visitors surpassing Japan in 2013. On Wednesday, countries took the first step towards the conclusion of a bilateral free trade and relationship has also been boosted by the warm ties between the presidents of both nations, Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping.
But with economic boost to the economy of Jeju China there has been controversy about the social impact. Tickets for Chinese funds have worried some residents of Jeju, because much of the money is being channeled into the development of new casinos, hotels and theme parks. Some complain that the casinos and hotels are coming up near schools and residential areas, as well as increased traffic congestion.
A spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in Jeju could not be reached for comment.
Tens of thousands of trees must be felled to make way for the sites of hotels and theme parks, says Kim Jung-do, responsible for the policy of the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement and other activists principal.
On February 12, a consortium of Genting Singapore PLC and Landing International Development Ltd. held a ceremony to Resorts World Jeju, a huge complex, casino and other leisure facilities. But only the largest foreign investment of $ 1,800,000,000 plan Jeju increasingly faces objections from residents and civic groups.
Lee Gil-hoon, a native of Jeju, says the integrated tourism project has boosted real estate prices in your neighborhood near the construction site, where her parents have been growing garlic for decades.
"My parents have dreamed of buying more fields for growing garlic. But land prices have risen so high that they can not afford it," Lee said.
Regarding more aggressive increase Chinese investment, the government of the island has submitted a proposal to the Seoul government to double the threshold for foreign permanent visas 1 billion won and set limits on the type of land available for potential foreign investors .
The street where the shop of Mrs. Kim was once full of pubs and karaoke bars, is now full of shops selling goods that Chinese tourists look like cosmetics, clothing and ginseng. Ms. Kim says he is considering opening a new store in another shopping district, after working in several part-time jobs, including a carwash.
"Visitors Chinese are big spenders. I want to see them keep coming. But I do not want to lose my job again because of them," he said.