Geoje Island is a large island in one of the southern most areas of South Korea, yet it appears that many Koreans don’t even know it exists. This is particularly strange as it is often referred to as one of “the wealthiest parts of Korea” and contains several industries that are vital to the economic well-being of the country. This is due in part to the massive shipyards which operate here. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd, also known as DSME, as well as Samsung call Geoje Island home. Along with Exxon, these companies provide enormous economic support for the entire nation, and they are the reason for a huge diverse foreign population on the island.
Germans, Lebanese, Brazilian, Swedish, Indian, American, Canadian, Scottish, Filipinos, South African, and New Zealanders are some of the nationalities you pass on a daily basis in the streets of Gohyeon and Okpo, which are two of the islands best known cities.
Foreigners are constantly arriving and departing Korea from Geoje. Some people stay for three months and others for a year or more. The island is always changing to accommodate its western guests. Starbucks is a favorite gathering place. A McDonald’s was recently introduced in Okpo. You can make copies at Office Depot, eat breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and grab a sweet treat at Baskin Robins.
Eating out can be quite expensive on Geoje. Italian and Indian eateries use fine ingredients to create masterful meals, but you will pay for the quality you are receiving. Café Piatto located near GS Mart in Okpo has a gorgonzola pizza that should be considered a world wonder, but it will set you back around 17,000 Won without a drink or accompanying dish. It is easy for a couple to spend $60 (U.S.) here as every single thing on the menu is delicious and well made.
If you choose to eat at Korean restaurants you can save a lot of money. Depending on which ones you frequent, you could eat a good, healthy vegetable filled meal for approximately $4, however a delicious beef bulgogi meal could cost you $60 or more in some local restaurants.
If you would like full immersion into the Korean culture, this is certainly not the place to do it. You could live here comfortably for years, never learn a word of Korean and do just fine. You can also travel 45 minutes to mainland Korea via a newly constructed bridge. There you will be able to search Costco for familiar comforts, or visit traditional and popular tourist destinations for relaxation, personal enrichment or adventure.