Sadly, I’ve closed down The Moodie Davitt Report Interim Jeju Bureau (pictured above and below), though I vow to reopen it in the not too distant future. What a beautiful island Jeju is, full of natural wonder, history (some of it dark and poignant) and culture. It is known as a healing place, somewhere to take stock of life’s pressures and priorities. Its serenity achieves exactly that.
Nature’s bounty provides a wonderful array of sea food, much of it gathered by the haenyeo, a community of women, most of them over 50, some in their 80s, who dive to at least 10 metres to gather shellfish without the aid of oxygen masks. In the 1960s, some 23,000 haenyeo worked the seas surrounding Jeju for up to seven hours a day. Today, an estimated 4,300 remain as young people migrate to the cities and pollution wreaks havoc with the local marine ecosystem. UNESCO awarded the divers a Cultural Heritage of Humanity designation in 2016.
One of the marvels of The Moodie Davitt Report’s business model is that I can still sustain editorial coverage while on the road (sometimes, thanks to the wonders of WiFi, even while in the sky) and/or on holiday. Dermot Davitt and I generate a great deal of our coverage when on vacation (sorry Michelle Davitt), testament to the power, potential and flexibility of the digital age.
Underlining that concept, I’m writing this final Blog before my return to London from an old haunt, the Grand Hyatt Incheon. It’s an outstanding hotel, now part of the responsibilities of Hyun-Ah (Heather) Cho, long-time driving force behind Korean Air’s superb inflight retail programme. It was my great pleasure to catch up with Heather in Seoul last week for lunch and to see her in such good form.
Before I left Jeju today, I had a chance to view the impressive JDC Duty Free stores in the domestic terminal at Jeju International Airport. Duty free in a domestic terminal? Yes, offshore duty free is alive and kicking here, just as in Okinawa, Japan, and Hainan, China. And while Jeju has suffered terribly from the slump in Chinese tourism over the past year, the Korean duty free business has continued to thrive. Today, on a non-peak week day, the store was humming.
They call the Republic of Korea the Land of the Morning Calm. Politically speaking and duty free industry-wise, it’s nothing of the sort. But it’s a beautiful, compelling country with a vitality and energy that’s highly infectious. Whatever you call it, I’ve caught it and Jeju has simply added to the condition. London HQ is going to seem a little mundane by comparison.