Foreign investor appetite for real estate on Jeju Island appears to have waned. The area of land on the southern resort island owned by foreigners shrank by more than 586,000 sq.m last year, the biggest decline in the country.
But foreign land ownership increased markedly in Gangwon Province, which is home to Pyeongchang where the Winter Olympics take place next year.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Sunday, foreigners owned 20 million sq.m of land on Jeju Island as of the end of last year, down 2.8 percent. Land owned by Chinese people dwindled 7.9 percent to 8.42 million sq.m.
Kim Sang-seok at the ministry said, “The area of land that entails immigration benefits for foreigners shrank, and there has been tougher screening of major development projects on top of some negative sentiment toward Chinese capital”.
Chinese investors snapped up land on the island when Jeju decided in 2010 to grant residency permits to foreigners who buy more than W500 million worth of real estate there (US$1=W1,133).
The amount of land owned by Chinese investors rose seven-fold from 1.25 million sq.m in 2011 to 9.14 million sq.m in 2015. But that led to some bad blood among locals and triggered fears of unbridled development threatening the island’s natural beauty. Jeju therefore decided to restrict the land available for foreign investment to only tourist zones in November of 2015.
Across the country foreign land ownership rose 2.3 percent to 233.6 million sq.m, accounting for 0.2 percent of Korea’s total land mass.
In money terms, foreigners own W32.3 trillion worth of Korean land. Gyeonggi Province had the largest area at 16.3 percent. Gangwon Province saw an 11.4-percent increase in land bought by foreigners over the past year to total 24.1 million sq.m.
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