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Jejudo emerges as new hub for technology companies

Resort island offers new chances for companies seeking Seoul alternative for better work environment

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Published : 2014-02-11 19:53
Updated : 2014-02-11 19:53

A view of Daum Communications headquarters on Jejudo Island. In 2012, Daum relocated its head office in Seoul to Jeju Science Park in Jeju City. (Daum Communications)

JEJUDO ISLAND ― The scenic island of Jejudo, located near the southwest end of the Korean Peninsula, is building itself a new reputation as a destination for high-tech companies.

As a case in point, several construction projects by tech companies are underway in Jeju Science Park, a high-tech business complex located in Ara-dong, Jeju City.

The state-run Jeju International City Development Center, or JDC, opened the park on 1.1 million square meters of land in 2011 as one of its six mega-development projects, part of efforts to turn Jejudo into a “free international city.”

“As a first-of-its-kind business complex project on Jejudo, this is turning out to be quite a success, as about 100 knowledge-based companies have decided to move into the park,” JDC chairman Kim Han-wook said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.

“Jejudo is appealing to creativity-driven Internet or research companies as it offers employees world-class natural assets. In addition, the island provides companies with a competitive environment for global business thanks to its geopolitical advantages of being close to China, as well as its well-developed aviation infrastructure.’’

Kim Han-wook
Daum Communications, the nation’s second-largest Internet portal, is one such company that decided to relocate its headquarters in Seoul to Jeju Science Park in 2012 to take advantage of the island’s offerings.

“A decade ago, the company dispatched about 30 employees to Jejudo on a pilot basis under the project name “Joyful Test” to experiment with a better work environment. Backed by the results of an employee satisfaction survey, the company finally decided to settle down on the island, relocating its head office in Seoul to Jejudo,” said Han Dong-heon, a community relations manger of Daum Communications.

Currently, about 900 of Daum’s 2,500 employees have relocated to Jejudo and are working in its brand-new architectural office building, Daum Space.1.

“Above all, employees are satisfied with a better quality of life, which we think ultimately is helpful for improving their concentration at work,” Han said.

Bolstered by the success it has seen at Jeju Science Park, the JDC head said the company would develop a second business complex.

The development of a globally competitive business district is all part of JDC’s business vision. It has already seen progress in five other mega-development projects. The other plans include building an English-driven global education city, a theme park based on myths and history, and a health care town.

“In particular, the myths and history theme park project is among the things we hope will put the JDC on the map this year as an innovative developer of such projects,” the JDC head said.

To push for the integrated resort development project, the JDC signed a memorandum of understanding with Hong Kong-based Landing Holding Group and Happy Bay on Friday. Happy Bay is fully financed by Genting Singapore, which operates Resorts World Sentosa.

“Under the deal, a total of $2.13 billion will be invested in the project until 2018,” Kim said.

Another priority for the JDC chief will be to improve the financial health of his organization by trimming debt and coming up with new income sources. Its only income source for now is running the three duty-free shops on Jejudo Island that are open exclusively to Korean citizens.

“JDC will also work closely with the local community and get more involved in raising awareness among the people of the island to share our future vision,” Kim added.

By Seo Jee-yeon (jyseo@heraldcorp.com)

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