Byon Jong-il, CEO of JDC, discusses forthcoming Jeju projects with a reporter. Photo courtesy JDC.
Jeju Free International Development Center (JDC) explored the exciting investment and business opportunities at MIPIM Asia 2009, the world’s property market in Hong Kong, from Nov. 18-20. MIPIM Asia has been designed to encourage western investment and to facilitate deals across Asia Pacific between local investors. Despite being scaled back this year because of the economic recession, the fourth edition of the real estate conference and exhibition event brought together as many as 1,500 profit-hungry investors and developers. The venue of the 3-day event was the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre located at the heart of Hong Kong, one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Overlooking the famed Victoria Harbour, the Centre is conveniently linked by covered walkways to adjacent luxury hotels.
MIPIM Asia 2009 kicked off with an Opening Ceremony on Nov. 18 inaugurated by Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary, John Tsang and CEO of Reed MIDEM, Paul Zilk. The Financial Secretary said, “We are much honored that MIPIM Asia has again chosen Hong Kong as the venue of the marketplace. We believe the presence of MIPIM Asia brings along good opportunities, both to Hong Kong and to the entire region.”
JDC has participated in MIPIM Asia four times in a row since 2006. This year, in particular, it highlighted investment opportunities for Jeju's Global Education City, Science Park, Healthcare Town, and Theme Park. One-on-one meetings with investors as well as the arena in which to become acquainted with new business contacts and government officials were quite different from other real estate events. As MIPIM Asia 2009 entered the 2nd day, JDC continued to unfold major events at the Centre by organizing a press conference and investment presentation on the same day. The press conference attracted a large number of both, international and regional media, including Hong Kong Broadband TV.
In a press conference, Byon Jong-il, chairman and CEO of JDC was keen to emphasize that the image of Jeju’s international city is distinct from that of well-established international cities such as Hong Kong, and Singapore. “Although the aim is for Jeju to become truly an international city which will be able to be on a par with Hong Kong or Singapore, Jeju itself should be the ultimate in realizing its goal, taking the most of Jeju’s beautiful, clean, green nature.” Mr. Byon added, “the construction of theme parks and casinos, which are now under discussion and plan, are merely a way of alluring investors and tourists to the island,” stressing that the true competitiveness of Jeju is on education, high-end technology, and medical tourism, which are also part of JDC’s 6 core projects.
Left: Representatives from the JDC give a seminar to investors about business proposals. Photo courtesy JDC. Right: One of many booths inside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre hopes to win investments for real-estate during an economic recession. Photo by Song Junghee
When asked at a property conference about JDC’s plan to open its studio theme park on the island, Bernard Cho, director of investments at JDC, said “the first phase of the park will require a total investment of up to US$880 million.” Cho added without elaborating that, “several Korean companies will form a consortium to take a controlling stake.” In terms of size and grandeur of theme park, which is emerging as a booming business in Asia, Jeju is far less competitive than Japan and Hong Kong. Much of Hong Kong Disneyland is the same as those in the states, only phenomenally smaller. As for the issue, Mr. Byon added to say “the approach JDC is taking is different. Jeju’s theme park incorporates all the Jeju elements, Jeju’s rich myth, history, and nature.”
Won Kwok Chun, a journalist from Hong Kong Commercial Daily asked JDC how to raise the international profile of Jeju island where its recognition is still low in the world as well as in Asian countries. Mr. Cho, the director of investments, who was also in charge of business presentation at the MIPIM Asia 2009 along with the CEO of JDC, responded “Jeju is striving to gain international recognition employing every way possible,” such as holding more investment seminars and workshops at home and abroad, aggressive PR marketing, and ads. “This is why we are here again at the MIPIM Asia,” added the director.
When asked about Jeju’s strengths which would appeal to investors and developers, Mr. Byon said, “JDC offers a lucrative investment environment through a well organized tax exemption structure and ongoing deregulation processes.” Along with the optimal investment climate, another advantage of Jeju, he also emphasized, is Jeju’s position as Korea’s one of its kind Special Self-governing Province where the central government granted extensive autonomy so that Jeju can pursue its own projects with minimum intervention, but with maximum support from the central government.
After the interactive investment presentation, most of the participants left their name card on the reception table and some enjoyed talks with JDC officials in a relaxed atmosphere.
It was found that 72% of MIPIM Asia attendees reported that they felt more optimistic about the state of real estate. In particular, delegates noted that there are strong signs of economic growth in China and South East. No doubt, MIPIM Asia 2009 served as a rare opportunity to build networking, heighten the profile of Jeju and promote the ambitious, high-potential projects JDC is undertaking with Asia’s key active investors and developers. Yet, it remains to be seen how long it will take to win the heart of profit-hungry potential investors and eventually attract their money to Jeju island.
No matter the outcome of conference, what is needed now, more than ever, is vision. As CEO of Jeju Development Center stressed, the competitiveness of Jeju’s International City lies in its difference and uniqueness. If Jeju’s international city is not just all about development, now is the time to think “how” Jeju should be different and “why.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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