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Problems of Jeju

Jeju is an island with limited resources and space. This has been a known fact for people living in Jeju who saw the negative changes happening to their homes. I personally have been impacted by the negative things as well. This has been worsening since Coronavirus hit and politicians took no actions against foreigners without visas entering the island. Not only was the island used for a place of escape from the lock down but this did not help the tourism industry either. Social distancing and mask wearing was actively done from the residence of Jeju while the tourists did not follow the rules. At some time, there were no cases of coronavirus in Jeju for weeks but when Koreans couldn’t leave the country during the summer vacations, many changed their vacation spots to Jeju. According to the Jeju tourism association, the number of Korean tourists in Jeju increased by 90% compared to the number of tourists last year around the same time. Many thought this would be good for Jeju since it will help the tourism industries but instead, tourists packed food from home and made small contributions to tourism by going to free outdoors places such as beaches and mountains. Also, this tourism caused many people to litter after eating takeout or packed food. The streets are packed with cars and the roads are filled with trash especially in touristy areas of Jeju. Many residences are constantly bothered by tourists stepping into private lands and ruining their gardens. This happened at my house frequently even though we had fences around the house and around the horses. We often encountered tourists having a picnic on our porch or entering fences with horses, putting their lives in danger and breaking our plants for pretty flowers or branches to take pictures. As tourists, people visit, and go to many different spots in the island causing half of the island businesses to shut down if a visitor is found to have coronavirus. This has happened multiple times now and none of these cases were caused by the residents of Jeju. This only contributed to shutting down of local businesses which only made the situation worse for local restaurants and businesses in Jeju that are already struggling. I would like to ask the governor of Jeju, “Is the opening of tourism in Jeju worth all this?” The only thing this situation increased was the number of Corona cases, trash, traffic and the anxiety of the residences. 

Jeju has always been known as the clean and safe island but we have depleted all the freshwater, cut down trees to make golf courses and hiking trails. Jeju has known of the problems of water pollution and contamination caused by new constructions but no actions were done to fix that. These are some of the unknown problems outside of what people can actually see in tourist areas such as beaches and mountains. The problems that are seen to the eyes are pretty horrible as well. Jeju rains a lot and has strong winds which has not been a big problem because of the forests and woods that stayed in place but with the cutting down of forests and building of skyscrapers, can Jeju handle the natural disasters in the future is a big question. These are all problems that should be thought of before making decisions to ruin the land and this has been ignored for economic purposes.

To make matters worse, there are more tourist spots being built all around Jeju today to attract the already overflowing tourists. Some of these constructions are happening in golf courses, and skyscrapers and while the governor argues that this is providing jobs for the residents of Jeju, we have to make sure this is good for the environment as well. The money that is spent on building new roads would be better spent on saving the nature such as placing more trash cans. Even though the fine on people littering or speeding has been a good source of money, the money is going back to ruining the nature and the people who litter can easily escape the fine as well. The money is not used for the residents but for the tourists. The important thing is to keep the balance between tourism and residence. 

The focus right now should be on preserving rather than developing. Jeju is already overly developed for the size of the island and there are too many tourists. It is funny to see the politicians say that the environment matters when they make no actions for the environment. There needs to be an action done to either stop or limit tourists or action done to ensure environmental and health benefits. There have been some modifications to the law in Jeju that states, “tourist areas have to be sanitized at least once a day with social distancing. Also, if someone shows symptoms of Coronavirus and goes to the nearby hospital to get it checked, they will be funded by the government but if they hide it, they would have to be prepared to be sued. These are good in theory but this is basically saying that the government will take care of the problem after the problem already happens which doesn’t do much for the local businesses that have to shut down or the people who might have contracted Coronavirus. Also, there is no way of checking if people are practicing social distance if they are not checked. Governor of Jeju should really see if this is done out of greed or if this is good for the residents and the environment.