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Guesthouse in Jeju Island

Posted February. 15, 2018 07:42,   

Updated February. 15, 2018 07:42


Jeju Island is waving its hands toward us, saying, “Enjoy, rest and take time.” People from urban areas, who are tired of the speed of city life, take comfort from their hectic lives with the whispers of the ocean. The oreum and the ocean, nature, villages with unfamiliar names and haenyeo (female divers) show the traits of Jeju Island. It is easy to encounter people who travel by themselves in Jeju. The heat of traveling alone created countless guesthouses in Jeju, where only hotels and pensions had been seen, and ultimately gave birth to a new traveling culture.

There are more than 5 million single-person households in Korea. With the spread of “Yolo Life” (i.e., lets focus on the happiness one has at this moment), Jeju Island emerged as a sacred place for those who travel alone as people are able to appreciate the lush nature, enjoy various activities such as climbing and scuba diving, and heal themselves. The beer party held every night in guest houses provides unforgettable and unpredictable memories to youths who visit Jeju. According to Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, 76.6 percent of the 11.3 million domestic tourists who visited Jeju Island last year turned out to visit the island alone or in small numbers.

The Korean society is shocked to discover a woman in her 20s, who travelled to Jeju alone, suffocated to death. This case drew national interest as it brought up the case where a woman in her 40s was murdered in the first course of Jeju Olle trail in July 2012. Han Jeong-min (age 31), the suspect to this murder case who committed suicide in a motel in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, had been under trial without arrest for allegations of raping another female guest last year.

As of the end of last year, the number of homestays such as guesthouses in Jeju amounts up to 3,497. This is 2.4 times more than 1,449 in 2013. Indeed, the surge in the number of people who moved to Jeju Island with the dream of “Life in Jeju” also influenced this increase. However, as guesthouses are not designated as a separate type of business in the current Korean law, it is difficult to identify the status quo of guesthouses, not to mention managing them. These guesthouses are doing business differently as countryside homestay, vacation homestay, or tourist accommodation business. Even the competent authorities cannot confirm‎ information on managers or staffs of these guesthouses. The egregious crime targeting people who travel alone will pose as a fatal damage to the image of Jeju. There is a need to come up with a solution to keep the dream of traveling in Jeju Island intact.

Jin-Kyun Kil leon@donga.com