1m+ foreign tourists this year
Milestone reached four months earlier than last year
The number of foreign tourists to the island this year surpassed one million on Wednesday.
The provincial tourist information center says more than 997,000 had landed in Jeju as of Tuesday, and then 8,000-plus foreign visitors arrived via the airport or sea ports for Liberation Day.
The one-million milestone was reached about four months earlier than last year when the corresponding date was December 16th.
Provincial officials say that if the current trend continues, the government's goal of hosting one-point-five million foreign tourists this year will be met earlier than initial projections.
They credit the increase on better accessibility: there are now more international chartered flights to the island as well as cruise ships that list Jeju as a port of call.
Marketing campaign for traditional markets
Public/private push to encourage cruise passengers to visit markets
In related news, local representatives will wage a more aggressive marketing campaign to encourage the increasing number of foreign tourists arriving on cruise ships to visit traditional markets on the island.
The government and the Merchants Association for the Revitalization of Jeju City Districts drew up the plans after taking into consideration the four-to-seven-hour stays that passengers on large ships have in Jeju.
They have decided to increase advertisements on the vessels, establish a free shuttle bus service to the markets, and offer performances based on traditional island culture.
They will also establish temporary markets near the ports where the ships dock and work with cruise companies and travel agencies to develop tour packages that include stops at the markets.
Unlicensed guides, unregistered agencies
Provincial Tourism Assn. says they hurt reputation of island industry
In somewhat related news, analysts say that there are still unlicensed tour guides and unregistered travel agencies in Jeju, and that they are hurting the reputation of the island's tourism industry.
The Jeju Provincial Tourism Association says it has uncovered six unlicensed guides and two unregistered agencies in the first half of the year. They were reportedly actively seeking clients at Jeju International Airport and tourist destinations.
The association says those guides are not paid, but solicit clients and try and force them to buy products at certain places.
Meanwhile, the group says the problem with the unregistered travel agencies is that they offer low-quality packages that lead visitors to complain about their trips to the island.
Turning to Arirang now, in his Liberation Day speech, President Lee Myung-bak said the Japanese government still hasn't taken necessary actions regarding the Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War Two. And despite the torrential rain Wednesday, the former so-called "comfort women" carried on with their weekly protest against the Japanese government, demanding a sincere apology. Arirang's (김연지) Kim Yeon-ji reports.
[Former sexual slaves demand apology]
87-year old Kim Bok-dong, one of the few remaining victims of sexual slavery at the hands of the Japanese military during World War Two, stood once again outside of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul Wednesday... demanding Japan's sincere apology for its wartime crimes.
Weak and fragile, Kim took labored steps to the site, despite the pouring rain in Seoul.
[Interview] Kim Bok-dong / Victim
"My heart aches. If Japan were to sincerely apologize for its wartime crimes and give compensation to the victims, we wouldn't have to do this any longer. And what's the Korean government doing? The government should speak up for us. It's getting increasingly difficult for us to come out to the weekly protest."
A presidential hopeful from the main opposition Democratic United Party, Moon Jae-in, made a surprise visit to the protest site... and promised to be a leader committed to resolving the issue.
[Interview] Moon Jae-in / Presidential candidate, Democratic United Party
"This protest has been going on for the past 22 years. But Japan continues to deny its wartime crimes and Japanese war criminals go unpunished. Japan even defamed the victims, saying that they voluntarily served as sexual slaves. It's shameful how the Korean government hasn't done anything to resolve the issue."
Wednesday's rally.. held on the 67th anniversary of Korea's independence from Japanese colonial rule... was exceptionally large... with people from home and abroad coming together in solidarity.
Representative Yoon Mi-hyang of the civic group for Korean women forced into sexual slavery under Japanese rule... urged international civic groups to join in the fight... for the true emancipation for all female victims of war.
[Interview] Yoon Mi-hyang / Member of victims' council
"In solidarity with the world citizens for peace, we will build peace monuments and memorials in honor of the victims in all parts of the world where their rights were abused."
[Camera] Yi Ki-wook
People representing all age groups, including young students, and various nationalities who support the movement... were out in force with umbrellas and raincoats.
[Interview] Kim Ga-bin, Park Su-min / Goyang Baekyang High School
"When the victims were just our age, they were forcibly taken to different countries to serve as wartime sexual slaves. It really hurts me to know that."
"I want the grandmothers to know that we are with them on this."
[Arirang Reporter] Kim Yeon-ji
Everyone made wishes for the true liberation for these victims, and made a pledge to never forget the sad history.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News.
Staying with Arirang for one more story, despite signs of an economic slowdown in Korea, duty free shops are weathering the storm just fine, thanks in part to a recent boom in the number of Chinese tourists shopping at them. Arirang's (허승하) Heo Seung-ha tells us more.
While department stores and large discount stores are posting negative growth in sales, duty free shops are performing exceptionally well.
Lotte Duty Free Shop's main store sold 30 percent more in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, while sales at Shilla Duty Free Shop jumped 130 percent.
The biggest reason for the boost in sales: a boost in Chinese tourists.
Almost 30 percent of sales at the main store of Lotte Duty Free this year were made by Chinese tourists.
And in Shilla Duty Free, sales by Chinese customers account for more than half of overall sales.
Chinese tourists are also at the top when it comes to per capita spending, at 1-point-1 million won, or roughly 970 U.S. dollars, more than double the amount by Japanese shoppers.
[Interview] Ham Seok-min / Manager, Lotte Duty Free Shop
"Sales by Chinese tourists have increased 100 percent this year, due to the popularity of Korean celebrities in China and the short distance between the two countries."
(Stand-up) Heo Seung-ha
"The most crowded place in this duty free shop is this section... featuring domestic cosmestic brands. One of the shop's PR representatives explains that Korean cosmestics are popular with Chinese tourists because the products are reasonably priced and of high quality."
[Interview] Zhao Qin / Tourist from Hangzhou
"Products in Korean duty free shops are cheaper than in China, and Korean cosmetics suit Asian people's skin well."
To cope with the surge in Chinese tourists, interpreters are now dispatched on every floor, and an information desk was recently set up to specifically cater to the needs of Chinese customers.
[Interview] Kim Dong-hoon / PR & Communication, Lotte Duty Free Shop
"We are promoting ourselves in China through the country's Social Network Services, such as Weibo and RenRen Wang."
[Camera] Yi Kyeong-ho
A recent decision by the Korean government to ease requirements for Chinese people applying for tourist visas, is expected to keep the boom going.
Heo Seung-ha, Arirang News.
Off Jeju's coast, coast guard agencies from six North Pacific countries have carried out a joint search and rescue training drill. The exercises helped the nations establish a better communications network, which will make for more efficient and effective actions in the event of a real emergency. Jack Quin has more.
Over a boundless expanse of water a red flare signals a distress call, a coast guard helicopter scrambles to the scene.
Rescue workers descend on cables and quickly rescue victims.
The fire on board the vessel is put out with water canons.
This is the scene of a joint training exercise conducted by the marine police agencies of six North Pacific countries.
Distress scenarios were developed for the exercise and the six agencies shared their search and rescue know-how.
Marine police agency officials from the United States, Canada, Russia, China, Japan and Korea participated. It was the first joint training exercise held in Korea by the six.
[ Interview : Song Na-taek ]
Participating countries' have high expectations for the training exercise.
[ Interview : Gregory ]
This type of training helps improve cooperation among participants such as that between the Korea Coast Guard and the US Coast Guard. Thanks to the exercise and the hard work of participants the North Pacific's search and rescue capabilities are strengthened.
Jack Quin KCTV.
172 ecological/cultural guides on-hand
Will work during eco festival, World Conservation Congress
The provincial government has dispatched 172 guides who are trained in the ecology and culture of Jeju to 11 locations related to an eco festival that started Thursday.
They are charged with explaining local ecology and culture, as well as promoting the island in general, while they work at the festival venues and on tours for participants in the upcoming World Conservation Congress.
More than 30 of them are trained to offer their explanations in English, so officials say they will lead the way in passing on precise and correct information about the island to environmental leaders from around the world.
Autonomy comes at a cost
New responsibilities reportedly cost Jeju 14 billion annually
The Jeju Special Law shifted some authority and the responsibility of carrying out some work from the national to the provincial government, but it has come at a relatively steep financial cost.
Provincial representatives say Seoul transferred the control of more than 2,100 tasks to the province through four rounds of legal revisions. Just 425 of them cost the island 14 billion won annually.
Labor costs account for 7.2 billion won, while there's 3.9 billion won in overhead costs and 2.9 billion won in payments for various projects.
The province has also spent another 12.5 billion won on the relocation of seven special administrative agencies to the island, including the Jeju Regional Construction and Management Administration.
The national government had said that in return for Jeju assuming these financial responsibilities, it could offer value added tax refunds to inbound tourists. Seoul has yet to take follow-up measures to revise the specific law needed to make that happen, though, with the result being that Jeju is simply saddled with more financial burdens with nothing in return.
2nd survey of outdoor mandarins begins Mon.
330+ researchers from Jeju Agricultural Research and Extension Services
Next Monday, authorities will launch their second survey of this year's crop of outdoor-grown mandarins.
More than 330 researchers from Jeju Agricultural Research and Extension Services will be fanning out to record data from over 450 local groves.
They are trying to determine the harvest size and the quality of the fruit this year. Results will be released early next month.
Based on those results, the agency will also release guidelines for growers. Those suggestions on mandarin care will include ideas on how they should thin out their crop and maintain high fruit quality.
▶ The 10th annual Soesokkak Festival will be held at the coastal area this weekend.
Title - Soesokkak Festival
Details - Beach activities
Date - August 18 - 19
Location - Soesokkak, Seogwipo
▶ A local art group is displaying its members' works through Friday at Lee Jungseop Changjak Studio.
Title - 'Sannamhoe'
Details - 10 artists
Date - Through August 17
Location - Lee Jungseop Changjak Studio
▶ The (김영갑) Kim Yeong-gab Gallery (두모악) Doomoahk is hosting a special exhibition through the end of the year in commemoration of its tenth anniversary.
Title - Exhibit: 'Winds'
Details - 10-year anniversary
Date - Through December 31
Location - Kim Yeong-gab Gallery
▶ Beophwa Temple is hosting a lotus flower festival on Sunday.
Title - Lotus Flower Festival
Details - Assorted activities
Date - August 19
Location - Beophwa Temple, Seogwipo
▶ The Jeju Weekly is accepting applications for students hoping to join its program as 'junior journalists' through August 17th.
Title - 'Junior Journalist Program'
Details - MS student only
Application - www.jejuweekly.com
Inquiry - 702-8885