If you’ve ever watched a Korean romance movie, you may notice that the onscreen lovers will spend time to travel to Jeju Island. There, they will visit a theme park, or simply stroll along the beach hand in hand, slowly falling for each other.
That is the magic of Jeju Island, a volcanic landmass south of South Korea whose warm, subtropical climate, white sandy beaches, and multiple attractions have made it a favorite honeymoon vacation spot for newlyweds. Indeed, for a land that only has agriculture as the only other major industry, the residents of Jeju have gone out of their way to welcome not just young couples but tourists of all kinds, both local and foreign alike. Jeju is sufficiently distant from the rest of Korea to develop a culture distinct from the mainland. It boasts heritage sites, national parks, Buddhist temples, theme parks, museums, beach resort, and lots more so that visitors will come back again and again and still find something new.
Jeju Island itself centers around the 1,950-meter Mount Hallasan, a dormant volcano that is the tallest peak in South Korea. Hallasan is part of the volcanic nature of the island which has created many other fascinating natural wonders. The Cliffs of Jusangeolli, for example, is the place where lava flows hit the ocean, creating some amazing formations and a great view of the sea. These 20-meter high basalt structures stretch 2 kilometers along the coast, creating an imposing faÃ§ade of hexagonal and cubic-shaped pillars and columns. Another attraction is Cheonjeyeon Falls, which translates to “The Pond of God”, a 3-tier waterfall composed of a 22-meter and a succeeding 30-meter drop. According to legend, nymphs descend from the heavens to bathe in the pond located in the middle level of the falls.
Craving for cuteness? Then drop by the Jeju Teddy Bear Museum in Seogwipo, a 5-minute walk from Jungmun resort complex. The museum features teddy bears from all over the world and is divided into 3 parts: a History Hall, and Art Hall, and a Project Exhibit. You can learn all about the history of these cuddly stuffed toys, as well as enjoy some trendy designer creations from all over the world.
For those who wish to learn about Korean culture, there are the Jeju and Seongeup folk villages. Here, the government subsidizes local residents to maintain their traditional way of life as part of keeping their unique heritage alive. Their houses are made of volcanic rock held together by mud and straw, and there are plenty of pig stys and vegetable gardens around the community. Other heritage sites include the Samseonghyeol Shrine, a garden with three large holes which is said to be the origin of Jeju Island’s inhabitants. A long time ago, three demi-gods emerged from these holes and founded the three clans of the island. Every year, on the 10th day of the 4th and 10th lunar months, members of these clans gat the shrine perform the jesa, an ancestral honoring ceremony, and the Samseonghyeol-je, a public ceremony to celebrate the founding of Jeju.
Don’t forget to catch glimpses of dol-harubangs (stone grandfathers), enormous carvings of volcanic rock that are shaped into squatting human forms. Thousands are strewn all over the region, sculpted by the native throughout the centuries for protection from misfortune as well as harbingers of fertility.
If you find yourself quite famished from all the traveling, why don’t we suggest you tryi Jeonbokjuk (abalone porridge), a Jeju specialty made from abalone and white rice. This highly nutritious meal is especially served to hospital patients and post-labor women to aid in recovery, and would make a great dish for famished visitors. You may also enjoy the bounty of fresh seafood in the area, including Okdom-gui, a flavorful pink-colored fish that is prepared with salt, roasted over charcoal, and served with several dishes.
Jeju Island has agreeable weather all-year round so you may visit it any month you wish. Springtime is worth considering as a vacation date due to the lovely canopy of blossoms which envelop the island during this season. You may specifically schedule your trip around the first full moon of the lunar month, when the residents celebrate the Fire Festival, a celebration full of massive fireworks and huge bonfires. This ritual cleansing is based on the purifying effects of fire and had originated from the old practice of razing old grass from graze land to allow new vegetation to flourish as well as eliminate pests from the area at the same time.
You may take a plane from Incheon International Airport or a ship from Busan to get to Jeju Island. Planes tickets are especially hard to obtain during the peak seasons between mid-March to the end of June, so you must book your round-trip holiday at least three months in advance. Travel by ship may take longer, but its definitely more scenic and relaxing, a perfect appetizer for a lengthy stay on the island. To get around Jeju, you may rent a car or a taxi, or simply take the buses which reach the major terminals.