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Cheju Island`s Condition to be an International Gateway City

Cheju Island`s Condition to be an International Gateway City

Posted May. 14, 2001 09:43,   


The master-plan which Korean government and the Democratic Party prepared for Cheju Island to become an international gateway city, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, contains possibly a controversial provisions such as adopting English as a second official language and allowing for Koreans, who are not travelling internationally, to purchase items from duty-free shops. To be sure, the proposal, which is based on the analysis of a well-known American consulting firm, is still in the preliminary stage and it is a bit early to tell whether this proposal will be accepted as-is.

If English is adopted as a second official language, it will be used alongside Korean as an official language for government documents. Although the issue of adopting English as an official language can be sensitive issue for the entire nation, an open-minded attitude is called for especially given the fact that the proposed change will be limited to Cheju Island.

The reason that Hong Kong or Singapore were able become international gateway cities were due to the fact that their language environment for English was not a significant barrier for communication. It is hard for non English speaking cities to be prosperous in international business and travel industry. But it seems to be a hasty decision, because the issue of adopting English as an official language in Cheju`s public schools is a matter that will directly affect the nation`s education system.

The development of Cheju as an international gateway city is not just a domestic issue but, a matter that has to be pursued by the government as a national strategy. Recently in Asia, along with Hong Kong and Singapore, Fudong distirict in Shanghai, Rabuan Islands in Malaysia, and Dubai in U.A.E., are being developed as a upcoming new international gateway cities aimed at attracting international business investors and travelers.

Cheju Island has an advantage for potential growth to be a visa-free, tax-free international gateway city because of its size (which is three time bigger than Singapore), its natural environment, and its location away from the mainland. To compete with other international gateway cities, it is very important for a city to be equipped with a capacity that guarantees the free circulation of human resource, capital, product, and information. It would be unfortunate to witness a hindrance in the development of Cheju Island by inaccurately equating Cheju with other cities in Korea, because constructing an internationally open city is a matter of national survival strategy.

Although Cheju Island would like to open casinos for Koreans, this has to be approached with caution, because a tension is likely to be produced with Tae-Baek city in Kangwon Province, where the government had recently allowed to open casino for Koreans, and it is also not a favorable issue from the viewpoint of the public. Some side-effects are expected if they do not limit the amount of money and number of transactions for Korean duty-free shoppers.

In the process of developing Cheju Island as an international gateway city, the first priority is to foster an environment-friendly development that prevents environmental pollution and preserves its naturally clean environment. A development that destroys the environment is to give up Cheju Island`s own advantage.