Jeju Island, South Korea – The new 7 wonders of nature and the land of opportunities for agro and tourism startup


Recently my visit to Jeju Island has inspired me to analyze the start-up and business opportunities in this little paradise island. Jeju (“Cheju” – Hangul) island is one of the most picturesque place in South Korea with just ~500,000 population. In the year 2012 South Korea had ~12 million tourist and among them 8-9 million tourist did visited Jeju Island. Roughly 75% of tourists in South Korea do visit Jeju Island. It has been voted the new 7 wonders of nature and many sites in Jeju island has recieved UNESCO natural heritage. Its most sought after honeymoon location for korean couples.

The land area of Jeju Island is 1846 sq. km so roughly 3 times the size of Singapore and 1/10th population of Singapore. It has currently one university and expected to have many by 2019 as per Jeju Golbal Educatin City plan. So as per talentwise various start-ups and industry should not be facing much problem in high tech manpower.
The health, beauty, bio and tourism industry has seen considerable growth from 2008 to 2009. The revenue growth in toursim industry has seen over 40% profit from 2008 to 2009. While there was a decline in digital and media industry from 2008 to 2009 due to global slump as no. of companies reduced from 274 to 254. The Jeju venture Maru is try to promote venture to the island and successful in getting 341 billion Won(~341 million USD) during 2001-1010. The sales revenue from health, beauty and digital media industry was ~1 billion USD in the year 2009.

Jeju province which is an independent governing province in South Korea have setup Jeju Techno Park for startups and industry to invest and prosper in Jeju Island. The following detail lay-out plan for next five year:

Restructuring the foundation for the health, beauty and bio industries at Jeju Technopark:
– Quality management of substances and finished products of the cosmetics industry and establishing certification system
– Establishment of necessary equipments and facilities for a comprehensive corporate support system.
– Major projects include the expansion of Jeju Bio Resource Screening Center

Establishment of support center for the lava seawater industry at Jeju Technopark:
– Realizing the potential of the lava seawater industry through R&D, Jeju will support the water, bio and tourism industries by building the center.
– Lava seawater will be utilized in the primary and tertiary industries such as the production of water, beverage, food, cosmetics, agricultural and fishery products and water therapy, emerging as Jeju’s next-generation project.

Establishment of convergence center for the mobile, communication and broadcasting industries at Jeju Technopark:
– Infrastructures for various types of convergence technology of communication and broadcasting by helping SMEs advance into the overseas market
– Serving as a test bed for the global mobile, communication and broadcasting industries by establishing a test-bed platform for communication and broadcasting on a continent, nation and medium basis and searching for various business models

Cultivation of regional industries – Creating new growth engine from Jeju’s Sasa Borealis @Jeju National University

Cultivation of Jeju’s seaweeds industry @Jeju National University

Enhancing brand value of Jeju’s subtropical herbs @Jeju Technopark

Cultivation of Jeju’s high value-added horse riding industry based on environmentally friendly resources @Jeju National University
– Generating new profits by diversifying horse riding programs
– Developing an integrated brand for horse riding and promoting the brand
– Developing and supporting agro industry of Jeju island

Establishment of Jeju Bio Diversity Research Institute @Jeju Technopark
(Data Source: invest korea)

The growth possibilities of startup originated from Jeju to thrive in Jeju and expand thereafter is immense. I am looking forward for another global brand originating from Jeju like Black Yak. Black Yak is an outdoor gear brand founded by a Jeju native CEO Kang Taesun.

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