|▲ Chairman and CEO of the Jeju Development Centre, Byon Jong-il reveals his ambitious plans for the future of Jeju. Photo courtesy JDC
Those of us who have lived on Jeju for some time will have noticed the changes going on around us; the super-development, the high-profile international events being held here, the plans for industry and education being put into action. Byon Jung-il, chairman of the Jeju Free International City Development Centre (more commonly referred to as the JDC), is the spearhead at the forefront of Jeju’s ambitious new direction.
Before becoming JDC chairman, Byon practiced as a lawyer and occupied positions as a judge and congressman. Through this he learned a deep sense of responsibility, which he believes contributes to his ability to lead effectively and manage others with diplomacy.
He explains that as a judge he was required to be open-minded, to listen carefully to all points of view and be attentive to what was taking place around him. In politics it was necessary for him to have a strong voice but also to respect others and have a good sense of balance which he feels is intrinsic to supporting the public good.
His motto is “Challenge, Passion, Creativity,” which is also the slogan for the JDC. He feels that the projects the JDC is implementing would never be possible without these three things. They are necessary to overcome any limitations and are part of his core philosophy.
Currently the JDC is working towards a number of core projects which Byon is instrumental in implementing. These projects include a state-of-the-art Science Park which will form the central hub of scientific research in the peninsula; a Myths and History theme park which will provide education and entertainment and will also feature a section run by MGM Universal Studios; resort complexes and a Healthcare Town where tourists can take advantage of cutting-edge medical technology at a much lower price than is available in the West.
Global Education City
Perhaps the most well-known and significant project is Jeju’s plan for a Global Education City. This project, planned for completion in 2011, will consist of twelve schools, including elementary, middle and high-schools. Each school will replicate the exact curriculum of a Western school and this curriculum will be taught exclusively in English; the exceptions to this are classes outside the Western curriculum, such as Korean language, history and social studies which will be taught in Korean.
A Memorandum of Understanding has already been signed between the JDC and the North London Collegiate School in England. This means that formal talks about the feasibility of replicating their curriculum will now begin. Of the NLCS Byon said: “It is very meaningful that the world-renowned school is coming to Jeju for the first time. The school will play a critical role in attracting students in Korea and other Asian countries and develop Jeju as a hub for English education.”
Other schools that the JDC hope will also sign MOUs in the near future are Branksome Hall in Toronto, Canada and two American schools; St Alban’s School in Washington DC; and St George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island.
The Global Education City will be the only international school in Korea to replicate the curriculums of prestigious Western schools. Another significant factor setting it apart from similar ventures is that it is a government project rather than a privatised one; this lends much more weight to the argument that an ambitious plan like this is realistically viable.
Foreign teachers will play an integral part of Jeju’s future success, Byon believes; adding that the Western schools will have complete autonomy; not only when implementing their programs but also when recruiting; and so will be free to recruit the very best candidates. Foreign teachers currently living on Jeju could be offered the opportunity to become part of the Global Education City, if they are suitably experienced and qualified, although preliminary ideas concerning this are still under discussion.
Byon has a bright vision for Jeju. He hopes to see different cultures co-existing on the island, with free-flowing ideas and harmony. Education and healthcare are a central part of this vision, and his goal is to create a high-standard for all. These things will be achieved alongside protecting the environment and creating a friendly city, with a strong community. Byon hopes that these things will transform Jeju into a truly international city.
For further information about the JDC’S projects, including the Global Education City, please visit: http://english.jdcenter.com/index.jsp