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(News Focus) S. Korean celebrities flock to settle in Jeju

2016/06/30 15:59

By Chung Joo-won, Go Seong-sik

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea, June 30 (Yonhap) -- Jeju Island, the country's largest island, is commonly known for its subtropical weather and rich natural resources. Now the southern island has another title under its belt: a haven for celebrities.

"Creative inspiration is all about the child-like curiosity, or becoming curious about everything around you," says Choi Sung-won of South Korean folk trio Deulgukhwa. The 62-year-old bass guitarist said Jeju Island is not just a place for living but also a fountain of youth.

"(In Jeju,) I see new things in every step I take -- it's a haven for unlimited imagination," he said. Choi settled on the beautiful island in 2010.

Choi is not alone in living a celebrity's life in Jeju -- among the most widely known celebrities with homes on Jeju are singer Lee Hyo-ri, go player Lee Se-dol, retired footballer Park Ji-sung and YG Entertainment chief Yang Hyun-suk.

This undated file photo shows South Korean signer Lee Hyo-ri and her husband, singer-songwriter Lee Sang-soon, at their wedding. (Yonhap) This undated file photo shows South Korean signer Lee Hyo-ri and her husband, singer-songwriter Lee Sang-soon, at their wedding. (Yonhap)

Lee Hyo-ri, a singer and former member of girl group Fin.K.L, moved from Seoul to Aewol village on Jeju in 2013, shortly after she married singer-songwriter Lee Sang-soon. The couple indulged in the bucolic life of islanders and launched a blog to give their fans a peep at their leisure activities, such as making juice from fresh, organic fruits.

However, fed up with curious tourists ringing the bell on their porch, the couple shut down the blog and moved to another place on the island.

This undated photo shows retired football player Park Ji-sung and his wife. (Yonhap) This undated photo shows retired football player Park Ji-sung and his wife. (Yonhap)

Retired football player Park Ji-sung and his wife have a second house on the island, where they held their closed engagement ceremony.

Hit scenario writer and novelist Kim Soo-hyun also purchased a fancy home on Jeju.

Kim, 73, is most famous for her hit television series "Fireworks," "My Husband's Woman," "A Thousand Days' Promise" and "Thrice Married Woman."

   YG Entertainment chief Yang Hyun-suk, the head of the country's second largest entertainment agency, has a luxurious resort villa in southern Jeju as his second house.

Some celebrities run businesses on Jeju Island.

Junsu of K-pop boy group JYJ has a hotel in Seoguipo City. Built on 2,100 square meters of land, the hotel consists of one five-storied main building and four pool villas.

G-Dragon of idol group BigBang partly runs a cafe in Aewol village, where Lee Hyo-ri used to live.

Star go player Lee Se-dol and his daughter (center) show up at an international school in Jeju Island on March 17, 2016. (Yonhap) Star go player Lee Se-dol and his daughter (center) show up at an international school in Jeju Island on March 17, 2016. (Yonhap)

Movie director Kim Tae-yong and his wife Tang Wei have a studio in the area.

Some celebrity parents have purchased homes on Jeju for their children's education.

Actress Kim Hee-ae bought a second house on Jeju in 2009 to give her two sons a place to stay so they could commute to an international school located there.

In March, go player Lee Se-dol purchased an apartment in Jeju Global Education City in Seoguipo City, western Jeju, for his wife and daughter for similar reasons.

The 33-year-old, who rose to stardom after a historical go match with artificial intelligence program AlphaGo, said he bought the house so that his daughter could go to a local international school on Jeju.

"Jeju has such a beautiful landscape -- the whole island is like a big sightseeing place," he said.

"I've frequented the island for vacation since I was little."

   jwc@yna.co.kr

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