Jeju Loses Luster for Koreans Quitting Rat Race

  • By Oh Jae-yong

    January 08, 2019 12:09

    Jeju Island is losing its luster as a destination for Koreans who quit the rat race for a life closer to nature, a trend that began around five years ago.

    According to Statistics Korea on Monday, the net influx of residents into the southern resort island last year dropped below 10,000 as monthly figures fell from 1,038 in January to 997 in February, and then to 467 in September and an estimated 200 in December.

    At one point the resort island saw a net influx of more than 10,000 people from the mainland and elsewhere each year, with 11,114 in 2014 and reaching a peak of 14,005 in 2017.

    A Jeju provincial government official said, "If the decline continues, more people will move away from the island than come to live here."

    A main reason is that property prices have risen sharply, reducing the appeal of living off the coast. Also the island is or feels full now, with rising traffic congestion, trash and other deteriorating living conditions. An explosive growth in coffee shops and guesthouses has led to intensified competition among early retirees who move and start their own small business there.

    There are 71,884 rooms at various lodging facilities throughout the island, up 74 percent since 2014, and 12,000 of them are in some 3,900 guesthouses. But tourist numbers have grown only around 10 percent over the same period. 

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