SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ announcement on October 31 that relations between South Korea and China will be normalized was music to the ears of the real estate industry, which has seen the market for high-end hotel room investors dwindle throughout the Chinese economic boycott.
The geopolitical tensions and relative estrangement began after the installation of U.S. THAAD missile systems on South Korean soil, angering Beijing, which demanded the weaponry be dismantled over concerns it could potentially target the Chinese mainland and track Chinese military movements, allegations denied by the South Korean-U.S. alliance.
With China seemingly acknowledging that the anti-ballistic missile system is here to stay, businesses heavily dependent on the yuan in Chinese hands are hopeful that the détente will eventually lead to the return of previous economic ties.
The sales offices of the Greenland Center Jeju, a subsidiary of China-based business group Greenland Group, and Lotte Tour Development Co have been some of the earliest beneficiaries from the easing of tensions. Last April, 850 hotel rooms located within the Jeju Dream Tower Integrated Resort were put on the market, with hopes of attracting both South Korean investors and Chinese tourists looking to benefit from the large numbers of Chinese tourists to Jeju Island. Such hopes were soon dashed as nation-to-nation relations worsened.
Signs point to better times ahead however. Since the day of the foreign ministry’s announcement, phones have been ringing off the hook, with an average ten customers putting pen to paper on investment contracts per day, according to staff members from both businesses.
A manager who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “It’s true that from the very day when the announcement on the normalization of South Korea and China relations was made, even though our marketing strategy did not change, we began receiving a lot of calls, and the number of contracts signed has gone up.”
A real estate investment firm based in Seoul revealed that it had received considerable interest from Chinese investors in the three days after the announcement. Selling condos in the Songpa District of Seoul, the firm said that it had previously held an info session that was attended by many Chinese tourists, but that the number of visitors dried up last year.
A spokesperson said, “After the information session was held, there were many Chinese customers who expressed interest, but after the South Korean government’s decision to deploy the THAAD system, we barely received any calls.”
The spokesperson added that there has been an uptick in calls recently, but also downplayed the belief that business had returned to where it was two years ago.
In other neighborhoods throughout the city that are favored by Chinese visitors, store signs in Mandarin were seen being hoisted back up. With reports of demand for Mandarin-speaking employees also on the rise, the country is ready to welcome visitors from the Middle Kingdom with open arms.