As of November 2017, there were 1.27 million vacant homes across South Korea, according to the National Statistical Office.
Jeju Island alone, 31 percent of homes are vacant, totaling 28,629 properties. Dazayo has four locations on Jeju Island.
Dazayo's team began their mission by asking, "How can we solve the problem of vacant houses?
Recognizing the negative impact of traditional development methods on the environment and local character, the team decided to recycle vacant houses that had been unused for more than a year.
Initially, Dazayo renovated vacant houses for free and received ten years of housing fees from the renovated homes.
However, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs deemed the business model illegal under the Rural Development Act, which requires the homeowner to live in the vacant property.
As a result, Dazayo ceased operations in July 2019.
In September, the government introduced an exception to the regulation, allowing vacant houses of less than 30 square meters to be converted into lodgings.
However, the total number of sites is limited to 50, the operating period is limited to 300 days, and local citizens must agree to the process.
Dazayo now operates four renovated shelters and exhibition spaces for local small businesses. Approximately 130 vacant house owners have requested renovations and expressed interest in working with Dazayo's business model.
Encouragingly, 94% of travelers who have stayed in these renovated rural accommodations have reported positive experiences.
As a growing trend in travel focuses on immersing oneself in local culture, Dazayo's innovative approach to solving South Korea's vacant house crisis offers a unique and sustainable solution.
By repurposing unused properties into accommodations, Dazayo addresses the socio-economic issue and provides travelers with an authentic local experience.