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[K-Wellness] 'We will nurture Jeju into a sanctuary for wellness and workcations'

From healing and tourism to business in Jeju

By Korea Herald

Published : Dec. 19, 2022 - 10:12

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Oh Young-hun, governor of Jeju Island Oh Young-hun, governor of Jeju Island

Oh Young-hun, Governor of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, emphasized the concept of “workcation” as a way that Jeju Island can appeal to new travelers.

It is a new type of working system that emerged as COVID-19 sped up the spread of remote work as well as the digital foundation enabling people to work from home. Working in a vacation spot allows you to serve two ends of working and taking a rest.

Gov. Oh emphasized the need for the workation to drive young adults to pursue their dreams and hopes for the future without leaving Jeju. It is also an ideal policy for attracting businesses.

Gov. Oh said he would create a business-friendly environment and cultivate new growth engines for the future to increase the quality jobs for young adults. For tourists, he expresses his commitment to creating a sanctuary of recreational workation by offering converged and long-term stay programs.

Four months have passed since your inauguration. How has it been so far?

I am deeply grateful to all the inhabitants of Jeju for showing their unwavering support since the launch of the Jeju Provincial Government after the 8th local election. For four months, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders as the governor and traveled through the province while communicating with residents to stabilize the public economy, ensure recovery of the local economy, and find future growth engines. We have laid a solid groundwork by mounting a series of challenges in the field and confirmed that Jeju is ready to reach new heights. We will continue to gather the wisdom and courageous capabilities of the inhabitants of Jeju and navigate step by step toward a bright future. I believe that the process of getting ready for challenges and transformations is a new starting point for Jeju and its residents. I am confident that 2023 will bring forth a better Jeju than now. We will gather our wisdom and capabilities to ensure that the next year marks a quantum leap for Jeju.

Recently, the importance of safety has been highlighted again due to the Itaewon disaster.

First, I would like to pray for the souls of the departed. We will make our best efforts to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again. Jeju has reinforced its manual at the provincial level to prevent similar accidents from recurring. We will make sure a safety management plan is formulated for events attracting 500-1,000 people. For events held by the private sector where many people are expected to gather, we will provide support for the relevant area to develop safety management plans before the events. We are building a dedicated management system through a total inspection of all scheduled events by the end of the year. For events without any organizers, we have developed a reporting system to identify events in advance by neighborhood and report them to the provincial government. We have measures in place to designate a safety management department and ensure that the administrative district having jurisdiction over the area to control the situation. The CCTV control center will be used to intensively manage crowded areas, and safety blind spots will be identified to install additional CCTVs. The Disaster and Safety Control Center, police, and fire defense headquarters have established an emergency contact and reporting system to share and respond to the on-site emergency in the event of an accident. Once the Ministry of the Interior and Safety formulates detailed guidelines, related details will be reflected to modify our manual as a whole.

The government decided for the first time to pay compensation to 300 victims of the Jeju uprising. What meaning would you infer from this change?

This marks a landmark victory for the people of Jeju who have battled to find the truth and clear their names. It began a new proud history of Korea that was achieved with the people's aspiration to prevent such a terrible tragedy from happening ever again. The first payment of state compensation in 74 years means a lot as the values of reconciliation, mutual prosperity, peace, and human rights were realized in Jeju, and it presented great principles and directions for addressing past issues that took place throughout the country before and after the Korean War. Recently, bereaved families have continuously offered to donate the compensation to the bereaved family association of the Jeju uprising. The bereaved family association has revealed that they would launch a private foundation and use the sum for the fund to nurture talents and help our neighbors. Although it was unfair and painful, the hearts of the bereaved families and victims who look to the future are creating a new model for addressing past issues. The provincial government, along with the bereaved family association, will continue to make every effort to remember and honor the names of all those who went through the Jeju uprising. On November 2nd, I went to visit Lee Man-chun (who had her toes amputated while wandering in the mountains after suffering a gunshot wound during the uprising) with a notice of the decision to pay compensation for the victims of the incident. As she shed tears, saying, “My mind has never been at rest my entire life, but now, my deep sorrow is finally mended,” I felt regrets and sorry for not being able to come any sooner. We will concentrate our administrative abilities to make sure that all surviving victims receive compensation as soon as possible.

Please tell us what kinds of efforts are being made to give hope to young adults.

We have launched a ladder of hope called “Jeju-style Youth Guarantee System” to drive young adults to pursue their dreams and hopes for the future without leaving their hometown. The Youth Guarantee System has been adopted to guarantee the challenges, opportunities, self-reliance, and participation of young youths in Jeju. Our plan is to subdivide the life cycle into: adult entry period, job search period, employment period, and settlement period to develop a policy for young adults to provide support for the entire lifespan of young adults. We will create the Jeju Youth Sovereignty Conference, where young adults have the right to compile their own budget and operate a youth autonomous budget on a trial basis. We are also making efforts to create a business-friendly environment. We will nurture key industries as new growth engines for the future and increase quality jobs for young adults. We will also build a global green hydrogen hub and create a new hydrogen ecosystem. Our plan is to successfully commercialize urban air transportation for the first time in Korea to drive mobility innovation and foster the private aerospace industry ecosystem. The provincial government will work with universities and other related organizations to help young adults shape a bright future in Jeju by restructuring departments associated with new industries as future growth engines, including regionally specialized industries, and nurturing Jeju-style future talents.

Jeju is one of the world’s top wellness tourist destinations. How would you describe the future of Jeju?

The goal is to make sure Jeju remains a true “island of peace” to allow people around the world to relax and get themselves recharged, and cities throughout the world to benchmark Jeju’s wellness tourism. In the near future, I believe that a global top TV show depicting Jeju as an “island of fantasy and relaxation” will be released. Jeju is a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site and one of only two volcanic islands in the world. Jeju boasts excellent and unique natural resources and cultures, such as Gotjawal Forest, haenyeo (women divers), Yongcheonsu, and Oreum. The provincial government is building a business model designed to foster leading Jeju-style wellness tourist destinations through these resources. For 11 places certified as wellness tourist destinations in the province, we provide support for the operation of specialized forest relaxation, a combined program that offers visitors to experience local customs, accommodations, restaurants, and other activities all at once, and a long-term stay program. We will create a reliable wellness tourism environment by acquiring the world-renowned Safe Travel Stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council and the certification of the Sustainable City Tourism Destination Standard from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Do you have any message for domestic and foreign tourists who love Jeju?

Jeju will always remain as you remember and love it even after 10 or 20 years. We will welcome you as a sanctuary for recreational workation in harmony with the natural environment by creating a green city where the urban landscape blends in with the forest and achieving carbon neutrality. Jeju-style urban air mobility will be used for sky tours, and you will be able to enjoy Jeju with self-driving cars that run on wind and hydrogen. Jeju will always remain a special place in your heart and as the future of Korea. Thank you for your continued interest and support.

By Yang Jung-won (7toy@heraldcorp.com)