The Mirror of Jeju

“The rush of money has been an economic bonanza for many, like the duty-free shops jam-packed with Chinese tourists looking for luxury items that are more costly at home and those hoping new hotels and condo developments will boost Jeju’s reputation. But the growing Chinese presence has also raised fears of big-power exploitation that is never far from the surface in a country that has been invaded numerous times by its stronger neighbors. . . .

“Feelings about China — one of the countries that invaded Korea in past centuries — are especially complicated. While many South Koreans are unequivocal in their continuing anger at Japan for its colonial and wartime history from last century, there is more of a sense that China is too powerful to shun. . . .

“Lisa Xue, 60, a Chinese tourist on a recent visit, said she and others were attracted to the island by its proximity — just a two-hour flight from Beijing — while wealthy Chinese saw it as a good place to buy property.

“But in the last year or so, local news media and critics began accusing Chinese real estate investors of ‘encroaching upon’ Korean land. They also complained that most of the Chinese tourists were brought to Jeju by Chinese tourist agencies and not only violated some social mores, but often stayed, ate and shopped in Chinese-controlled hotels, restaurants and shopping centers.”

Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times


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