Murder in Chapel Prompts South Korea to Rethink Chinese Tourism

Murder in Chapel Prompts South Korea to Rethink Chinese Tourism
What you need to know

Chinese tourism has been a boon for the South Korean economy, but a rise in violent crime has some worried.

A South Korean woman has died after being stabbed by a Chinese tourist at a local chapel at Jeju, a popular tourist destination.

The 61 year-old woman, who had been praying in a chapel, was stabbed four times by a 50 year-old Chinese man on Sept. 17, the Korea Times reported.

The woman called an ambulance while she was still conscious and underwent surgery but died the following day.

The suspect was arrested on the day of the attack. He told police he was at the chapel for confession when he saw the woman. He claimed she reminded him of his two unfaithful ex-wives.

South Korean police believe the case was an act of misogyny and plan to charge the suspect with murder, according to reports. The charge could result in life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Crimes committed by foreigners have increased in Jeju in recent years and the attack was reported to have followed an assault on a Jeju restaurant owner by a group of Chinese tourists last week.

In a move to boost tourism in 2008, the South Korean government started allowing Chinese tourists to enter Jeju Island without a visa. Locals have been concerned, however, as the increased tourism has brought with it a surge in crime.

According to HK01, the number of crimes committed by foreigners rose from 121 in 2011 to 393 in 2015, with more than half committed by Chinese. From January to July this year, there were reportedly 347 crimes committed by foreigners, with Chinese accounting for about 70 percent of the suspects.

Many have urged the government to review and revise the visa-free program for Jeju, CNA reports.

Chinese tourists are a major contributor to South Korea’s economy. In 2015 Chinese tourists spent an average of US$2,200 shopping in South Korea, double that of other overseas tourists, and contributed US$22 billion to the country's service sector, accounting for 1.6 percent of South Korea’s GDP.

In 2015, South Korea was the top overseas destination for Chinese tourists, ahead of Taiwan and Japan.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole