These days it’s business as usual at South Korea’s Jeju International Airport which means that flocks of Chinese travelers are continuing to leave behind mountains upon mountains of trash before departing from the popular resort island. Images have been posted online yet again of the airport departure hall’s floor covered with an insane amount of wrapping paper and packaging left over from departing tourists’ 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 and baggage space Chinese tourists have a habit of stripping the packaging from the goods before boarding their flight back home.
While airport workers have reminded tourists to please properly discard the packaging in trash cans, much of the garbage is instead being left on the floor outside the departure gate or on transfer buses. This phenomenon first ignited anger online last November, but it seems that in the last few months nothing much has changed. South Korean media reports that the airport cleaning staff regularly collect over 100 26-gallon bags of garbage per day.
Looking to finally address the problem, an airport official said that more cleaning staff and litter bins would be introduced soon, along with a consultant who would develop ways of better reminding travelers to properly dispose of their trash.
At the same time, the airport has also been quick to characterize the littering as not something that is unique to Chinese tourists.
“This is not a problem with the Chinese people. This is a problem with group-mentality and also fault of the airport for improper action,” a duty free department worker said, according to Koreaboo.
The Jeju International Airport has turned into a familar stage for minor international incidents. Last October, more than 100 Chinese tourists spent their Golden Week holiday trapped inside the airport 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 dismissed the possibility that the program would be canceled.
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Article & Image: Shanghaiist