South Korea’s resort island of Jeju is a magnet for tourists. Home to the highest mountain in Korea, it boasts broad beaches, labyrinthine caves and magnificent hikes. However, in recent years, the island has also become a magnet for trouble. Beefs between Chinese tourists and Korean locals are at an all-time high following a series of high-profile incidents.
And now… it seems like things have somehow become even worse.
Late last week a picture surfaced online of what the airport departure hall in Jeju looked like after Chinese tourists were done with it. In the image, the floor is covered with an insane amount of wrapping paper and packaging left over from the travelers’ duty-free purchases.
When tourists purchase duty-free items from outside of the airport, they are dropped off at the departure gate in time for their flight home. Naturally, all the goods are properly packaged and presented to customers. But in order to maximize their own convenience, Chinese tourists stripped the packaging from the goods before boarding their flight back home.
Where did the packaging end up? Well, on the floor of course. Because where else would one put it?
According to the Korea Times, this even comes after airport and duty-free staff asked Chinese tourists to please put their trash in the dumpster, going so far as to give them garbage bags to help them out.
“Even though there is still lots of rubbish left after they depart, fewer of them are dumping it on the floor after we’ve taken action, those who keep throwing waste on the floor might face fines as a penalty in the future,” the airport said in an official statement.
But at the end of the day, manners are taught. So who taught them to leave rubbish behind on the floor without thinking about who is going to clean it up?
This mess comes after the airport was the stage for a minor international incident last month, when more than 100 Chinese tourists spent their Golden Week holiday trapped there after being denied entry into the island for failing to provide the proper paperwork.
Which was a bit strange, because Jeju Island has a well-known 30-day, visa-free policy for Chinese tourists, who make up the vast majority of the island’s visitors. Implemented in 2008, the controversial policy has turned the island into a Chinese tourism gold mine, but it has also led to an increase in crime.
In early September, a group of rowdy Chinese tourists beat up a restaurant owner on the island after she told them not to bring in drinks from outside. One week later, a Chinese tourist stabbed a Korean woman to death as she was praying at a local chapel because she reminded him of his ex-wife.
Following these unfortunate incidents, over 11,000 locals signed a petition calling for an end to visa-free entry for Chinese tourists; however, Governor Won Hee-ryong has dismissed the possibility that the program would be canceled.
By Christopher Shi
[Images via Korea Times]