There’s more to Jeju than beautiful tourist destination. Welcome to its overfilling sewage system, depleted groundwater, and bulldozed gotjawal forests.
2011 was a busy year for the civil servants of Jeju Island. South Korea’s most famous island — bar Dokdo — had made the shortlist for the so-called “new seven wonders of nature.” With no restrictions on the number of telephone votes cast by each individual, Jeju’s public officials were punching their phone keys like Las Vegas slot machine addicts, all day, every day. In the end, they clocked up a reported $20.3 million in international phone bills.
It worked. When voting closed, Jeju was named one of the new seven wonders of nature. The island had another shiny green label to join its UNESCO World Heritage inscription, its Global Geopark status, its Ramsar-listed wetlands and its UNESCO biosphere.