It’s consistently alarming to get ashore in a queue, but never added so than back there’s a semi-tropical island appropriate alfresco the door.
Jeju is South Korea’s anniversary paradise, a agitable isle 100 afar (160km) off the south-western tip of the peninsula. It is abnormally accustomed with Chinese tourists, over 300,000 of whom accept visited so far this year. And it acquainted like every one of them was advanced of me in band at the DVLA.
Chinese tourists adulation Jeju’s beaches, arcade and bank – and now its active licences too. Abounding body an absolute anniversary about a cruise to the Driver’s Licence Examination Centre, area they absorb canicule bushing in forms, queueing and demography tests. And if they’re advantageous abundant to canyon at their aboriginal try, there’s still time to hit the beach.
Holidays congenital about a applied purpose are not new. Nowadays bodies commonly cantankerous the apple for corrective surgery, abundance treatments, able training or aloof to watch a football match. Some cities accept congenital reputations about their specialities: Los Algodones, Mexico, is Molar City to the US citizens who fly in for dental work, while Hoi An, Vietnam, is acclaimed for bespoke tailoring.
Driving licence tourism on Jeju Island is a contempo phenomenon, but it is growing fast. According to the bounded Driver’s Licence Examination Centre, as of the end of August this year, 2,172 Chinese civic had been certified. That’s an boilerplate of 62 a week. In 2010, the annual absolute was 68.
Quality and cost-effectiveness are huge motivators in this affectionate of applied tourism. For ambitious Chinese drivers, South Korean licences pay off on both counts. Not alone is a cruise to Jeju commensurable to the amount of China’s big-city active schools, but it’s additionally faster and added convenient.
Chinese bout companies action five-day holidays to get a licence in “South Korea’s Hawaii”. Bales alpha at about 8,800 yuan ($1,280) and attend audience through the action with a bit of sightseeing befuddled in. The hotel, active instruction, on-the-ground carriage and testing fees are covered in the price; commons and flights are not. It sounds expensive, but VIP active advance bales in Beijing can run over 15,000 yuan ($2,188) and booty months to complete.
China, like abounding countries, allows accurate licences from added nations to be exchanged for a bounded permit. So already they’ve passed, Chinese association can catechumen their South Korean licence by artlessly casual a accounting test.
And there’s addition acumen Chinese tourists feel the Korean licencing action is a bigger bet. Mingqui Liu, a Chinese apprentice allowance his acquaintance agenda a alley test, summed it up succinctly. “The Chinese active analysis is actual strict. The Korean analysis is easy.”
The action in both nations includes medical checks, accounting exams, a closed-course active analysis and a alley test. The Korean adaptation is not necessarily easy—at least, not anymore. In December 2016, the tests were revamped afterwards years of criticism for actuality too lenient. According to Arirang News, the closed-course analysis canyon amount fell 60% in the actual after-effects of the changes
But the Chinese adaptation is still conspicuously harder in some respects. The accounting test, for example, consists of 100 questions adjoin South Korea’s 40. The scoring is tougher too: China requires a 90% mark to pass, while South Korea allows a added affectionate 60%. (The UK requires 70%.)
There’s additionally scheduling to consider. Due to bound slots and aerial appeal in China, anniversary footfall of the analysis can booty weeks to complete. And those who abort any allotment of the assay added than already charge alpha afresh from the beginning. On Jeju, meanwhile, it is generally accessible to complete assorted genitalia of the assay in a distinct afternoon.
Yingqin Cui, buyer of package-tour aggregation Jeju Island HD Active School, liaises with a bounded active academy to accommodate the 13 hours of apprenticeship allowable for new drivers in South Korea. This includes four hours on a practise advance and six of alley driving. She says few bodies abort to get their licences afterwards this accelerated session. “Out of 100 people, maybe one.”
China requires a 90% mark to pass, while South Korea allows a added affectionate 60%
An agent of the Jeju Driver’s Licence Examination Centre agreed that success ante amid Chinese visitors were aerial and the clip blistering. He estimated the boilerplate time from appliance to acceptance as a anniversary and sometimes as little as two days.
South Korean licenses aren’t aloof accessible; they’re additionally versatile. In the 1940s-1960s a alternation of United Nations conventions created the International Active Admittance (IDP), which allows bodies to drive and hire cars in adopted countries. As China did not participate in these conventions, Chinese licences aren’t accordant with the IDP. South Korean ones are, authoritative them admired to travellers.
“Most of my audience are Chinese nationals active abroad,” says Cui, citation the UK and Italy as accustomed countries. With an IDP, they can drive in their host country, additional added than 150 others.
Language is additionally factor, Cui credibility out. In the UK, for example, active tests can alone be administered in English or Welsh. In Jeju, the appliance and accounting analysis are accessible in Chinese, and abounding Examination Centre advisers apperceive accordant Chinese vocabulary.
This is not abnormal in South Korea—the accounting analysis is additionally accessible in English, while the appliance forms appear in a countless of languages. But Jeju charcoal the prime destination for licence tourism for one acute reason: clashing the mainland, Jeju has no acceptance claim for Chinese tourists.
So the curve are still continued at the Driver’s Licence Examination Centre. Admittedly, it’s adamantine to attempt adjoin the island’s perks. Not alone do tourists leave with a valid, internationally accustomed active permit, but there’s bank time and Korean barbecue cat-and-mouse for those who beat the queue.
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