|▲ Chairman Kim Han-wook says he is set on ensuring JDC passes on its success to the Jeju people. Photo courtesy JDC
This advertorial for Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) first appeared in a JDC special edition for the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity.
Kim Han-wook took up the reins as chair of Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) in 2013 and quickly produced results.
Pledging to establish a system of “new value creation for survival,” JDC soon topped the Korean Business Ethics Index and the Public Service Customer Satisfaction Index in 2013, also scoring highly on the integrity assessment and anti-corruption initiatives of the Anti-corruption and Civil Rights Commission
Last year continued in the same vein, with JDC receiving the 2014 Korea Sustainability Manage-ment Award at the 8th Korea Sustainability Management Conference in Seoul in September 2014.
JDC then scored the highest for a public enterprise on the Public Institution Management Performance Assessment from the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and Kim reiterated his desire to champion creative enterprises across the province to “return the benefits to locals.”
“The ultimate goal of the JDC is happiness for people locally and nationwide, enhancing local industries and contributing to the regional and domestic tourism industry,” said Kim.
Other local initiatives include utilizing upwards local companies for at least of 50 contracts and sourcing of construction materials in JDC projects, providing education scholarships to Jeju youth and providing a 30 billion won fund for local primary industries and business leaders.
A major success story since Kim took the helm has been the JDC duty free shops. Criticized by the public prior to his arrival, they soon recorded 3.6 billion won in sales in 2014, representing a 6.3 percent increase on the previous year. There was also a 9.3 percent increase in profits to over 1 billion won.
To explain the success, Kim points to a “field-centered sales marketing strategy” to understand market flow and analyze customer needs. Purchasing limits were also raised from 400 to 600 US dollars and the age limit for purchasing was abolished.
The profits are then ploughed back into Jeju’s core projects, a total of 7.8 billion won between 2002 and 2014.
The core projects remain the flagships of the JDC mission and Kim is keen to point out the success of Jeju Global Education City in Daejeong-eup.
Rather than financial gain, the chairman cites the 52 NLCS graduates who received offers from the world’s top universities. Of these, 47 have offers from the world’s top 40 institutions according to The Times, including Yale, Stanford and Oxford.
For the future he targets more international students as well as commercial and residential units.
Progress has also been steady elsewhere.
Groundbreaking on Resorts World Jeju of the Jeju Myths and History Theme Park, the largest integrated resort in northeast Asia, was held in February 2015. In addition, Greenland Group from China has strengthened its support for Healthcare Town with an agreement to construct a two-step medical facility.
With sales of more than 1 billion US dollars, Jeju Science Park also now boasts 126 resident companies, and Jeju Science Park II will soon be developed to create a high-tech industrial complex.
Central government agreement is also expected soon at Ocean Marina City and although not as high profile as other developments, there has been significant progress on E-land Park’s Global Culture Complex to be operated by Jeju Daedong under an agricultural theme.
The fast pace of change
The pace of Jeju development — particularly foreign funded — has naturally left some locals uneasy. In response Kim asks for perspective and states that as of late February 2015, foreign real estate ownership was 0.9 percent of Jeju Island, with Chinese ownership at 0.5 percent.
“Although Chinese acquisition rates have increased compared to earlier periods, it is still negligible when we see it as a part of the entire land mass,” said Kim, who nevertheless stressed his consciousness of public concern over unruly investment..
“I suppose it is time for wisdom in connecting investment to national wealth creation, and not to be emotional about Chinese investment in Korean real estate at a time of increasing investment and human resource exchange,” he said.
To assuage these fears, JDC is making efforts to minimize environmental destruction and embrace Jeju’s regional, historical and cultural characteristics. This marks a departure from the Singapore and Hong Kong model of development to one which builds on Jeju’s values and characteristics.
“We will create an eco-friendly city embedded in Jeju’s unique natural environment,” he said.
A sign of such a shift is the 52 billion won establishment of Jeju Gotjawal Park, which will be handed over to Jeju Special Self-Governing Province upon completion.
Corporate social responsibility has also been placed at the heart of the JDC’s work, says Kim, and this year saw the creation of the Globalization Support Department within the Business Management Headquarters to help local businesses adapt and increase resilience in a global market.
Smart education programs will also be introduced, strengthening internship programs and English education camps at an increased number of communities island-wide.
Although many hurdles remain, it is evident that Kim’s endeavor for JDC to “return benefits to locals” is bearing fruit.
Kim Han-wook took up the reins as chair of Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) in 2013. Photo courtesy JDC