4 de febrero de 2016

The Wonderful Jeju Island

An amazing view of the Korean Island


The beautiful and romantic Jeju Island, formerly known as Tamna 탐라, 耽羅, and in the West as Quelpart Island, holds the titles of Natural Heritage, Global Geopark, and Biosphere Reserve, granted by Unesco.

The Jeju Province 제주특별자치도 (officially the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province) is one of the nine provinces of South Korea. The island lies in the Korea Strait, southwest of South Jeolla Province, of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946. Its capital is the city of Jeju. Jeju is in the process of becoming an International Free City, maintaining its ecological treasures.

 Douglas Macdonald

Jeju is a volcanic island, dominated by Hallasan: a inactive volcano, the highest mountain in South Korea. Jeju Island, is also known as the "Island of the Gods". Is a popular vacation spot for Koreans and foreigners, and the largest island in the coast of Korea. Is a mixture of volcanic rocks, frequent rains, and temperate climate. In addition, in 2011 Jeju was chosen as one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. The island offers to travellers many interesting activities: hiking on Hallasan (South Korea's highest peak), catching sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, majestic waterfalls and awesome beaches, riding horses, exploring locations from famous television K-dramas.


In Jeju are located: the Geomunoreum, regarded as a system of lava caves, with its multicolored carbonate roofs, walls and floors of dark lava; Seongsan Ilchulbong, the impressive crater shaped fortress where the sun rises, and Hallasan, the highest mountain, with waterfalls, multiform rock formations and small lakes.

Jeju Island is located 64 kilometers to the South of the Korean Peninsula, just an hour on flight from Seoul. Jeju is a magical place of extraordinary beauty. Is a meeting point for international business and tourism, with its breathtaking views, climate and a unique traditional culture. Jeju is the only province in South Korea with not industrialization. In the 70s, it became the favorite destination for Korean newlyweds.

On the island of Jeju there are cultural characteristics that make them differents from the rest of Korea. Thus, there are thousands of local legends. The Dol hareubang, 돌 하르방 (Grandfather statues) are sculptures in lava blocks, reaching up to 3 meters in height, that can be found all over the island. They are considered Gods that offer protection and fertility.

Another distinctive aspect of the province of Jeju is their semi-matriarchal society, the role of seafood gathering has been dominated by women. Around Jeju's coastline there are "Haenyo" a figure that has become iconic. The Haenyo, 해녀 (Women of the Sea) make their living by diving to catch abalones, conch, octopus, oysters, shellfish or molluscs, seaweeds, etc. They do not use an underwater diving equipment. Haenyeo, are literally The Last Mermaids.

Located in the center of the volcanic island of Jeju is Hallasan (a inactive volcano, 1,950 meters high), which has more than 1,800 species of vegetation, and a surprising ecosystem. Jeju offers panoramic landscapes from coast to coast, from waterfalls at Hae-anjidae until naturally carved cliffs at Jusang Jeolli.

The island was formed hundreds of millions of years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions, its composed of basalt and lava. The weather is subtropical, warmer than the rest of the country, four seasons are distinguished; the summer is rainy and the winter is dry.

Douglas Macdonald

Stations give a fascinating view to Jeju, from frozen in winter to the spectacular blossoming of the cherry trees in the spring woods. Tourists can enjoy Jeju with special colors of nature: yellow flowers in spring, which are spread throughout the island; sea and golden beaches in summer, brown eulalias in autumn and beautiful white snowflakes at Hallasan in winter.

In Jeju tourists can practice sports activities such as hiking, biking, paragliding, diving, windsurfing, horseback riding, swimming and boat trips.

Major tourist attractions in Jeju

Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak: erupted from the sea in a hydrovolcanic eruption hundred thousand years ago, it is promoted before sunrise, to watch the sunrise from a huge covered crater grass and bordered by the ninety nine pointy rocks that make it a gigantic crown. There is a huge crater at the top of Seongsan. Seongsan means "a mountain shaped like a castle"

 Douglas Macdonald

Sanbangsan Mountain (산방산): is the result of violent volcanic activity 700,000 or 800.000 years ago, it is indeed a large body of solidified lava. The Sanbangsa Temple and also the Bomunsa Temple are located there, keeping relics of Buddha. This mountain contains a cave, which is located about 150m above sea level and has a spectacular view out over the ocean. "Sanbang" literally mean "a cave inside a mountain".


Sanbanggulsa Cave: the cave is located in Andeokmyeon Sagyeri, Namjeju-gun, Seogwipo-si, Jeju. It is a renowned Buddhist temple. This is where monk Hye-Il (964~1053) had lived during the Goryeo Dynasty (918~1392) Inside the cave, we can see Marado Island and the Dragon Head Coast.

Yongmeori Coast: a place where the Sanbangsan mountain dives into the ocean, and it looks as if a dragon's head is going underwater, creating a majestic scenery by the sea.

 Costa de Yongmeori. Foto de Douglas Macdonald

Seongeup Folk Village: in this traditional village are old houses, natal houses of historical figures. Located at the foot of Mt. Hallasan on Jeju Island, Seongeup Folk Village is a small town that holds a vast amount of culture.

Marado Island: the island is in the southern part of Korea. It's a good place to fish when the tide rises on the east and when the tide goes out on the west. There are more marine products found here than in any other area around Jeju Island. The cliff is 39m high and gives an aura of mystery to the island thanks to the cactus and silver grass that grow on it.

Seobjikoji: Seobjikoji means cape in the Jeju dialect, an extension of land that juts out into the sea. Seobjikoji draws thousands of visitors every year because of its affiliation with the drama “All In"

Beomseom Island 범섬: Beomseom has stunning basalt columns in front of the picturesque south coast of Yongmeori..

 Fotografía de Eric Hevesy
Manjanggul Cave: is one of the most sensitive tunnels of lava in the world, so it was designated as a World Heritage Site.


Udo Maritime Park (Udo Island) (우도해양도립공원): in Udo Marine Park we can enjoy beach landscapes and islands. The site lies at the eastern end of Jeju Island. The island is full of tourism attractions: fishing, bike trails, submarine tours and cruises, including a trip under the sea by submarine.

Beautiful yellow landscape

Hyeopjae Beach: a beach of clear waters, green meadows. It is located on the west side of Hallim-eup, and is an integral part of Hallim Park. The wonderfull white color of the sand comes from the large amounts of crushed seashells that have been mixed in with the sand.

Sangumburi Crater: a crater more than 2km perimeter, and was designated a Natural Monument. It is located on the southeast side of the Jeju city.

Jeongbang Waterfalls: are the only waterfalls in Asian than discharges water directly into the sea. The Jeongbang Falls are on a high cliff overlooking the sea, and an old pine tree is tilted as if to fall into the ocean at any time. East about 300 meters there is another waterfall called Sojeongbang..

Jungmun Recreation Center: it is situated on the coast of the Jungmun area. Is the largest resort in Korea. In the Resort, there are many interesting sites to visit. Also there are great hotels such as Shilla Hotel, Lotte Hotel, and the Hyatt Hotel that are well known because celebrities often visit from abroad. This is the biggest Tourist complex in Korea.

Cheonjeyeon Falls: also called "The Pond of God". They are located in Saekdal-dong. It is an excellent site with sources of mineral waters, and bridges that allow tourists pose for pictures. On the surface of Cheonjeru Tower, there is a painting that tells Cheonjeyeon’s legend of the nymph and mountain god. In May of every even-numbered year, the Chilseonyeo Festival is held here.

Yongduam Rock (Dragon Head Rock): is a volcanic rock that formed as a result of an eruption produced about two million years ago. It looks like the head of a dragon, nd is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Jeju.

Teddy Bear Museum: this museum contains the largest worldwide collection of teddy bears made over the past 100 years. The Jeju Teddy Bear Museum opened especially for the European collectors and has a special "Teddy Bear" entertainment.

Teddy Bears Museum

Festivals and regular performances of Jeju

Festival of the First Full Moon: the Festival of Fire Deulbul Jeju (제주 들불 축제) is a festival which is celebrated on the first full moon of the year, which is called Jeongwol Daeboreum (The Great Full Moon). The Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival originates from the traditional harvesting of the grasses found in the local domestic farm animal pastures, which were annually set in fire each winter by the villagers as a way to exterminate harmful insects. It has been held annually since 1997.


Canola Flowers Festival: Jeju Island is the first area of Korea where spring arrives, therefore, since late February flowers start blooming becoming Jeju in a beatiful yellow land. The floral festival is celebrated in April.

Yeongdeunggut Chilmeoridang Rituals: in a certain date of the year are held some rituals throughout Jeju Island to implore Yeongdeung (the goddess of the wind) a calm sea and abundant fishing. The ritual known as Yeongdeunggut Chilmeoridang, joint beliefs of Haenyeo and folks about Yeongdeung. Its the only ritual performed exclusively for Haenyeo.

Woman at Yeongdeunggut Chilmeoridang Ritual

Jeju food
Meals of Jeju Island are generally prepared with saltwater fish, vegetables and seaweed. As a condiment is commonly used soybean paste. The saltwater fish are used to make soups and porridge, and pork and chicken are used to make "pyeonyuk" (sliced ​​boiled meat). Few dishes are placed on the table. Condiments are not usually used and a small amount of ingredients needed to make meals of Jeju..

To get to Jeju domestic aircraft or boats are used. There are buses running around the island but do not work very often and are not very accessible. Renting a car or hire a taxi to move around the island its recommend.

Typical flower: Rhododendron (Rhododendron weyrichiii).
Typical tree: Camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora Siebold, the Lauraceae family).
Typical bird: Woodpecker (White-backed woodpecker quelpartensis, the Picidae family).

Budda Statues by Douglas Macdonald

Budda Statues by Douglas Macdonald

Pictures of this post are protected under Copyright law. 
Photographers: Douglas Macdonald and Eric Hevesy.

Eric Hevesy is a photographer who lives with his wife and little daughter, on Jeju Island, South Korea. He is wedding photographer for pre-weddings, weddings, family portraits and other events.

Douglas Macdonald is a Canadian-born freelance photographer. He has spent 12 years documenting life and landscapes in South Korea and is a regular contributor to The Jeju Weekly.
His images have appeared in other publications, including The Herald Tribune International (New York Times Global Edition), National Geographic, Conde Nast, The Times (India), 10 Magazine, Jeju Weekly China, Jeju Weekly Japan, Groove Magazine, Utne Reader, TriMag Asia, Seoul Style, and Dragonair's Silkroad Magazine.
He has won "Fine Arts" prizes for 5 consecutive years in the Jeju UN World Heritage International photo contest and his work has been displayed in International airports across Korea. On October, 2012, his photo "On Golden Hills" was featured on the front page of National Geography.
An exhibition of his work, "The Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival", is currently being featured on The Big Screen at Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. His work is also on permanent display at the Jeju UN Heritage Center on Jeju Island, South Korea.

To read the Spanish version of this article click HERE

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