Yanbo Li began researching in an Asian international school after his son Zhilun was born.
A Chinese businessman working in the IT sector, Li eventually chose a British school on Jeju Island in South Korea over schools in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. Two years ago he bought a house in Jeju and moved to China with his son, who is now a 7th grader at the North London Collegiate School on the island.
Li now manages his business from Beijing far away, visiting his company in the event of an emergency. “The schools here offer higher education as well as foreign jobs,” Li said.
“It simply came to our notice then. Jeju is bigger than Hong Kong and Singapore, has fewer people and fewer cars and is easier to get around. ”
Wealthy South Koreans and Chinese are sending their children to Jeju instead of sending their children to Jeju instead of western schools or other parts of Asia, raising island fees and raising property prices while parents move home and stay close to their children.
Since 2008, four of the world’s top schools, including the NLCS and Branksome Hall Asia have opened in Daejeong, after the government launched a $ 1.5bn project to transform 940 acres of farmland into a global learning center.
Daejeong was once a quiet farming village with a spectacular view of the blue sea of Jeju and Mount Halla, the highest point on the island. The island was well-known for its aging ocean motherland, tangerine fields and its black hogs, and is still a popular destination for happy couples.
But the town, located an hour from Seoul, now has state-of-the-art schools, five-star hotels and resorts as well as private homes with swimming pools and nearby golf courses.
About 4,600 students enrolled in four international schools, while Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) signed preliminary agreements with two other western schools.
“We are building a city a training center in Northeast Asia,“Said Moon Dae-lim, chair of the JDC.
Jeju schools have helped South Korea reduce the amount of money associated with foreign education and family breakdown as Korean mothers often accompany their children abroad, leaving fathers to help them.
He also gives students another way to learn.
Bae Suh-yoon, a 13th grader at NLCS, moved to Jeju with his mother Chung Mi-hyang nine years ago. His father, a doctor, works in Seoul. “Korean education is tedious and focuses on memorization. I wanted my son to learn art but I did not want to send him out too soon,” said Chung.
Daniel Gondorf, a 12-year-old student from Berlin, moved to Jeju this year to study at NLCS. “This is one of the best schools in the world based on their IB [International Baccalaureate] goals, ”he said.
Most students in international schools are from South Korea, about 10 percent from China and 5 percent from Japan, Mongolia, the US, Australia and Europe.
Chinese parents have also been attracted by Jeju’s special visa application system, which provides housing for investors, although the system has been temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The schools are highly enrolled despite the annual fees and fees up to $ 50,000. More than 90 percent of graduates graduate from top 100 universities in the world. Students can also enjoy some outdoor activities such as jumping, surfing and horseback riding.
“Many parents feel they do not need to send their child to the UK or the US or anywhere else – they can get what they want in higher education here,” said Lynne Oldfield, Britain’s chief executive at NLCS.
In 2019, 8,961 South Korean primary, secondary and tertiary students went abroad to study in 2019, a significant decrease from 29,511 in 2006, according to government data.
School officials expect more foreign students to come to Jeju as vaccination prices rise. “We are living in a global political crisis. We have no restrictions on our education, “said Oldfield, distinguishing Jeju’s international schools from their competitors in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Eugine Oh, marketing director at Branksome Hall, said the Canadian girls’ school is receiving more and more questions from Chinese parents over China is increasingly expanding the curriculum of special education.
The popularity of these schools has resulted in an increase in construction in the area. Premium homes available at Won3bn-Won10bn ($ 2.5m- $ 8.4m), much higher than even the most luxurious apartments in the affluent Gangnam district of Seoul.
“Property prices here have been significantly affected by schools around the world. Housing prices have risen 60-70 percent in the last two years, “said a real estate agent in Daejeong.
“Demand for housing and urban housing is on the rise, but it is lacking. We hope that more schools around the world will be established here. ”