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Green card of Jeju Island is way too cheap

Posted February. 27, 2015 07:20,   


By next month, there will be an ocean of yellow rape blossoms on Jeju Island. An exotic scene in harmony with indigo blue sea, basalt, and citrus trees, Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak and lava caves listed on UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage… Jeju is a “gemlike” island. However, more buildings are built on the beach and mountain areas are being developed, which is eating away the scenes of the beautiful island.

The Wall Street Journal covered a story of the advantages and disadvantages of soaring investments by Chinese with the title “Chinese Wealth Transforms South Korea’s Jeju Island” on Thursday. While Chinese investments in real estate contribute to the economy of Jeju Island, they also increase conflicts with locals due to haphazard developments, environmental destructions, and soaring property prices. When Chinese funds started construction of an integrated resort including a casino in the Jeju Myths and History Theme Park on Feb. 12, a strong backlash came from civic groups and they filed a lawsuit against the project.

The WSJ said Jeju is becoming like Hawaii, which was dominated by the Japanese in the late 1970s, but it is actually more than that. Jeju has a 1/15th area of Hawaii and is more like the size of a small island of the Hawaiian islands. The Japanese population is 120 million but the Chinese population is 10 times the size. Moreover, aggressive Chinese investors are making the world as well as Jeju Island nervous. Australia plans to impose taxes on foreign investment capital from next month and even Hong Kong and Singapore have increased taxes on foreign investments.

The Jeju provincial government introduced a real estate investment immigration program in 2010. It gives a resident (F2) visa to an investor who invests at least 500,000 U.S. dollars and a permanent residency five years later. Until now, 1,007 people received an F2 visa and 98.4 percent of them are Chinese. As a two- or three-room condominium costs over one billion won (913,000 dollars) in China, it is understandable that Chinese flock to Jeju thinking that a condo in Korea is cheap. The provincial government asked the central government to raise the bar to at least one million dollars for investment immigration but the central government wants to think about it after the sunset provision expires in 2018. It is good to attract investments but it does not need to be too cheap.