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Moving to Jeju part two: What brings people to Jeju Island?Why do people move to Jeju and what do they do when they arrive?
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승인 2017.08.23  13:20:38
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In recent years, the migrant population of Jeju Island has been increasing continuously. Most of these migrants are relatively young; in fact, since 2012, more migrants arrived who are in their thirties than any other age group. This was followed by those in their forties and then those in their twenties. The number of people arriving in their forties increased a lot during this time. As well as this, a larger number of males moved to Jeju than females.

These recent trends are in sharp contrast to the trends of the 1970s and 1980s when most of the new people coming to Jeju were in their 60s or older and had chosen to move to Jeju in order to retire and enjoy a relaxing and peaceful life.

<See part one for more stories>
Moving to Jeju part one: A history of migration to Jeju

The reasons why people choose to settle on Jeju are diverse.

“At 8 am in the morning, the subway which runs between Shindorim and Gangnam in Seoul is just like hell. People are stuck in the crowd and sway as the train moves. One time when taking this train, something suddenly hit my head. I thought, why am I continuing to live here like this?”

This is what one migrant says in a book titled ‘Jeju Bohemians.” This book features the stories of 13 new settlers to Jeju who range from artists and authors to farmers and chefs. The people in this book have found a new perspective or a new philosophy of life which turns their eyes to Jeju. The island’s nature heals them and gives them peace.

Another common theme is that people decide to settle on Jeju after spending time traveling. These migrants all seem to have one thing in common; they are bohemian style settlers who are skeptical about the reality of overly fierce competition in a capitalist society, and they seek a new way of life.

Contrasting this are the many migrants who decide to start their second life on Jeju for work and new business opportunities. Some want to move to Jeju to give their children a better education in a natural environment. Others have health problems and feel that Jeju is the best choice to be cured both physically and psychologically.

What do people do for a living on Jeju?

Settling on Jeju is not a fantasy and people who come here face usual problems such as supporting a family, securing a job, or buying a house. However, occasionally some migrants cannot get out of the tourist mindset and they suffer a lot because of the discrepancies between reality and their fantasy.

Even just a few years ago, if you sold your apartment in Seoul, it would be fairly easy to find a bigger and better place on Jeju. However, the land price on the island has doubled, tripled, or in some cases even quadrupled over the last five years making this much harder than before.

Because of this, there appears to be a new phenomenon where migrants return to the place they lived in previously as they fail to support themselves financially due to the increases in the cost of living on Jeju.

Here are the figures about what people do before and after their move to Jeju. In general, the number of people working for a monthly wage decreased after settlement and the number of people who were self-employed increased.

After settlement

-Self-employed 32.8%

- Office work, management, specialized work, etc. 11.0%

-Primary industry employees 12.2%

- Producer, technicians, simple labor 5.6%

- Seller, service related jobs 13.6%

- Housewife 6.8% - Student 2.2%

-Public serevant 2.2%

- Others 13.6%

Before settlement

- Self-employed 18.0% - Office work, management, specialized work, etc. 35.8%

- Public servant 3.6% -Primary industry employees 3.6%

- Producer, technicians, simple labor 5.8% - Seller, service related jobs 11.0%

- Housewife 9.0% - Student 6.6% - Others 6.6%

Data LEE HWA JIN (Jeju Female Family Research Institute) [Research on the Realities of Jeju Migrants and Support Proposals] 2017

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