Chinese tourists are flocking to the South Korean island of Jeju by the thousands, not only due to its gorgeous beaches, shopping spots, and other attractions, but also for its driving licenses.
So far this year, over 300,000 Chinese tourists have visited the volcanic island paradise, and a significant portion of them make time for a trip to the local licensing agency.
At the Jeju Driver’s Licence Examination Centre, the tourists spend their days doing paperwork, taking tests, evaluations, and other necessary requirements needed to be granted a license.
Driving license tourism on Jeju Island has been going on for years, but the trend has reportedly become more popular recently.
This year, 2,172 Chinese nationals have been certified so far, which translates to an average of 62 a week based on the Driver’s Licence Examination Centre figures. Back In 2010, the annual total was only 68.
According to the BBC, the reason aspiring Chinese drivers prefer to get their licenses in South Korea is due to “quality and cost-effectiveness.”
A trip to Jeju does not only cost significantly less than what China’s elite driving schools in bigger cities charge, but it is also “faster and more convenient” to complete.
Getting a license in Jeju usually involves a five-day holiday, which Chinese tour companies offer at around 8,800 yuan ($1,280) to start.
The tour package already includes hotel accommodation, driving instruction, on-the-ground transport, testing fees, and some sightseeing before or after securing the license. In comparison, VIP driving course packages in Beijing can reportedly cost around 15,000 yuan ($2,188) and may take months to complete.
After getting the license, Chinese residents need only pass a written exam to convert their South Korean license to a local Chinese permit.
Some also claim that the Korean license is relatively “easier” to pass than the Chinese version, For one, China’s written test consists of 100 questions, while South Korea only has 40. China’s test also requires a steeper 90% mark to pass compared to South Korea’s 60% passing requirement.
The fact that Jeju, unlike the mainland, has no visa requirement for Chinese tourists has made it an ideal destination for license tourism. It also helps that the application and written test are available in Chinese, and many Examination Centre employees are well-versed in Chinese vocabulary.