This paper examines the trajectory, ambitions, and practices involved in the official national and provincial planning for Jeju Island from 1964 to 2017 with consideration to the metaphorical cities of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Like the city of Armilla that Calvino’s Marco Polo describes, Jeju City has been constantly built, left unfinished, demolished, and rebuilt over the past six decades. In reflection of the South Korean state and provincial privileging of short-term targets and a growth-first orientation since, the larger region of Jeju Island, identified as a “special region” form as early as the 1960s for experimentation in tourism-driven urbanization. Whereas industrial development or integration into the national economy were state priorities for other regions, Jeju, by virtue of its historic marginality, offered planners an imaginary clean slate to conceptualize what would become a constant, wrought, and often self-contradictory process of creating South Korea’s prime tourist resort. Although any analysis of a geography as complex as a city – no matter how small or confined its geography – based on terse official planning documents is certainly incomplete, such an approach does offer insights into the larger ambitions that still drive development despite (or perhaps because of?) municipal decentralization.