Though the Jeju Global Education City (JGEC) has held the groundbreaking ceremony for its second school, many of the island’s residents still have questions about this massive project. The Jeju Weekly has compiled some of those questions and concerns from the public and presented them to the Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC). Here are their responses.
How will an English “island” in the middle of nowhere on Jeju really help to make Jeju more international?
The JGEC will attract students from not only the mainland to Jeju but from throughout East Asia including China. Because it is a global city, its communal language will be English, and every sign in the city will be in Korean and English. As well, all commercial facilities — retail, dining and entertainment facilities — will have to hire some bilingual employees.
Will there be something out there that will be worth seeing for tourists?
The JGEC will in essence be an open community for learning. It will not cater only to its resident schools and students, but also to the outside community and even visitors seeking to experience the city. The schools will have excellent facilities (i.e. Branksome Hall’s ice hockey arena) and common areas such as the performing arts center, which will be perfect for leisure time for tourists.
During the second phase of construction, after 2015, we will build the Education-Culture-Art Zone. It will be a complex with lots of entertainment facilities like a music hall, for plays and concerts. Over 2,000 programs a year will be offered.
In reference to commercial facilities, we will invite some outside investors. The main commercial facilities will be in the city center at a size of 42,256 m2. There might be a movie theatre, and there will be a PC room and other establishments of that nature.
What successful model is the JDC following considering the historical attempts and failures in Korea?
The JGEC is the first experiment of its kind in Korea. Approximately 20,000 young Korean students study abroad, which causes lots of problems. By opening this education city we are giving those families the option to stay close together on home soil and for the students to learn within their own culture. The concept is quite different from the English villages on the mainland which are theme parks with English language experiences. They are only short-term English education centers, but this is an English school. There are foreign schools in Korea, but only 30 percent of their total enrollment can be Korean, 70 percent have to be foreigners. But for all the schools in this city, there is no restriction, allowing 100 percent of its enrollment to be domestic students.
In a June 30 article by Jejusori.net, the writer expressed his “unpleasant feelings towards the JDC over the procedures followed for Branksome Hall Asia’s groundbreaking.” Could the JDC please clarify what happened and also comment on the current relationship between the Provincial Office of Education (POE) and the JDC?
The groundbreaking ceremony took place on June 30 in consideration of Branksome Hall’s academic calendar. It does not mean that actual construction has begun. What occured was just a ceremony, but we still need to get a permit from the construction department of Seogwipo City before building can commence. The POE wanted the ceremony to occur after the permit was granted. The permit will be granted shortly.
How will Jeju make money from this?
Foremost by creating jobs and attracting tourists from Korea and abroad. Also, Jeju will earn money through parents who visit their children who attend the JGEC. When completed the city will be home to 20,000 people who will engage in commerce. It is important to remember that making money is the second purpose of the JGEC. It’s main objective is to bring students who study abroad back to Korea.
Is the JDC paying for the construction of the buildings?
Yes, at the initial stages, however we are currently seeking private sector investment. The JDC will pay for the construction of the first two, possibly three schools, but after that, all schools will have to fund the construction of their own buildings. The money for these schools comes from profits garnered by our Duty-Free Shops.
Has construction already begun for the attractions/ businesses and what is the estimated finish date for the majority of it?
The construction of attractions and businesses will follow in the second phase (following 2015) when the resident schools have firmly established themselves within the community. In 2011 when NLCS and KIS will open, 108 residential compounds as well as 2,000 m2 of retail space will be prepared.
Are there going to be buses to and from the JGEC for tourists?
We are looking at creating a diversion for the airport limousine bus that heads towards Jungmun and having it stop near the project site. We are talking to Seogwipo City to have the bus stop at the entrance of the road that goes into the JGEC and then having a local bus that would travel into the complex.
Are there going to be events?
Certainly, we are expecting a series of cultural and arts activities to take place in the Jeju Global Education City, but nothing has been scheduled yet, and there won’t be any until all schools have been opened in 2015.
How are they going to entice people to make the long trip there to go to the restaurants inside the JGEC?
While the JGEC may not be focused on food as its specialty, certainly we’re expecting a basic selection to be available. We have to develop entertainment, food and retail shops inside the city with an atmosphere similar to that of a theme park. The landscape is very important to this project and we developed city so it will be beside Gotjawal forest. We focused the theme of the city on Gotjawal forest, which tourists, students, and teachers will be able to enjoy.
What kind of restaurants are they going to have?
The project site will accommodate an array of restaurants based on the unique backgrounds of its residents. Nothing is concrete at the moment, but there will be Korean, Western, and European establishments since the schools’ staff and students will be from these areas. This year there will be 65 English teachers so we will need British restaurants and pubs for the teachers. Every KIS teachers will befrom north America, so we need American restaurants too.
How will it be possible for an all-English policy within the commerce zone when the bilingual, fluent workers may not be available?
The all-English policy is a guideline from which to start with. The students will speak English as the medium of their education and as a communal language since many within the community may not speak Korean. It is NOT a mandatory rule but something which will be encouraged and followed with self-motivation. The people are free to speak Korean, we will only encourage them to use English in the city.
Why would someone who can speak English and Korean work retail?
Because salaries for bilingual people are rather high. It is very important that every person who lives and works within the JGEC speak English. The government will offer retailers incentives not only to open their stores in the JGEC but to support them, through a law that is in the process of being written, either financially or with tax benefits to ensure the hiring of bilingual staff.
Briefly define what the JGEC’s working relationship with the JDC is?
The JDC is a investor and supervisory organization overlooking operations. It is a public company established by the Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime affairs in 2002.
What is Haewul and what is its relationship to the JGEC?
Haewul is a service provider to resident schools to facilitate a smooth settlement within Korea and the JGEC. In the long run, Haewul will be responsible for the operations and marketing of the community. The JDC is a developer of land and infrastructure. While the schools will be responsible for the education aspects of the city, Haewul is responsible for the city’s finances and administration. They will collect money, pay salaries, and maintain the buildings. This is only the case for the first two schools. All other schools will be operated by outside investors.
How can foreigners open a business within the zone?
Foreigners will be allowed to either buy or lease the retail facilities within the premises however within boundaries of the related legislation. Last month 60 people applied to purchase plots of land and 9 applications were accepted. If foreigners want to operate a business they have to purchase the land from the JDC. Next year we will find a large retailer, to build like a mall. Foreigners will then be able to make a deal with that retailer for space within the complex.
Who is the JGEC ultimately responsible to, its shareholders/investors or the people of Jeju?
JGEC will hold its moral obligations to its students in the community while legally reporting to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs. All profits generated by the schools cannot by law leave the island and has to be invested back into the schools. Jeju will profit from the city through the selling of land within the JGEC to retailers and school investors, and through everyday commerce.
How will the JGEC and the area outside the city interact?
Basically the area will be open-border to maximize interaction between the city and Jeju, however measures will be taken in consideration of the residents’ safety. People are free to come and go into the city at any time, but every school will have security guards and will be surrounded by a wall for the students protection. The Jeju government will also build a police station for every one's protection within the city.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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