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South Koreans blame Chinese tourists for airport garbage

By
Elizabeth Shim
The South Korean resort island of Jeju has been receiving a record number of Chinese tourists who can travel to the region without a visa. Photo by Yonhap News Agency/UPI
The South Korean resort island of Jeju has been receiving a record number of Chinese tourists who can travel to the region without a visa. Photo by Yonhap News Agency/UPI

Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A photograph of a garbage-strewn South Korean airport terminal has gone viral a few months after similar images indicated Chinese tourists visiting the resort island of Jeju have been disposing of their trash in public places.

The image uploaded to Twitter on Sunday shows a departure hall littered with trash that includes plastic bags, cardboard packaging and other wrapping material, Yonhap reported Wednesday.

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The garbage was left behind by Chinese tourists who travel to Jeju visa-free, and often spend their hours prior to departure shopping at duty-free boutiques at the airport, according to the report.

Waste also overflows at the airport's restrooms, shuttles and other areas despite the availability of trash bins at the terminals.

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According to Jeju airport authorities, building maintenance regularly disposes more than 100 26-gallon bags a day, a relatively large volume of trash for a small airport.

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In online comments, South Koreans asked whether "Chinese tourists are contributing to the happiness of the people of Jeju," and why airport police aren't doing more to impose fines and penalties on people polluting the environment.

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Complaints of Chinese tourists sexually harassing South Korean women, damaging tourist attractions and creating public disturbances have also been reported, according to Yonhap.

But some officials, including Kim Hyung-keun, a police officer at Jeju Airport, say the problem of littering can't be blamed entirely on the tourists.

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The duty-free goods are picked up at a delivery area prior to flight departure, and the system creates congestion when 300-500 people descend into one area to claim their purchases.

The trash bins at the site are also too small to accommodate all the litter from the purchases, according to the report.

More than 3.8 million Chinese tourist entries to South Korea were made from August to November 2016, according to The Financial Times.

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