Stories from the island of stones, beaches and everything in between.
One of Asia’s most stunning paradise that lies beneath the crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and lush green hills. The Hawaii of Korea, Jeju Island, has a triple crown in the UNESCO’s natural science areas and has never failed to amaze us in bringing out the best travel and marathon experience. Through the humble invitation of Jeju Special Self-Government Province and Jeju Special Self-Government Provincial Tourism Association, we flew to Jeju Island last May for a 4-day event and adventure trip. Flip through these pages as we give you more of Jeju. Welcome aboard!
JEJU’S OLD TIMES
Jeju or Jeju-do is the basalt-and-lava island formed entirely from volcanic eruptions about two million years ago, with minor volcanic activity until the most recent eruption around 8,000 B.C.E. Hallasan, a dormant volcano and the highest mountain in Korea which rises 1,950m above sea level, lies in its center. This astonishing mountain has 360 satellite volcanoes called “Orum” around it and is one of the main features of Jeju Island. According to island mythology, a goddess named Seolmundae created the island, as well as Hallasan Mountain itself.
With a surface area of 1,846 sqkm, Jeju is the largest island 130km off the coast of Korean Peninsula. Located in the south of mainland Korea, this subtropical climate island is warmer than the rest of Korea, with an annual mean temperature of about 16°C, and four distinct seasons. Half of the summer is rainy, and the winter is fairly dry.
The ancient name of Jeju is Tamna meaning “island country”. Since Tamna Dynasty was founded in around A.D. with its own language, ideas, and culture, Jeju has been an independent marine kingdom. It continued to trade with neighbouring areas until it was disbanded in early 12th century. Tamna dynasty traded with Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla respectively in the Three-Kingdom period. For about 200 years starting from 1629, a ban on leaving the island was placed, which led residents to live an isolated life on the island just like a floating jail.
JEJU ISLAND FORTRESS GUARDIANS
Standing tall as a watchful yet compassionate presence, these expressive stone statues served as timeless guardians for the people of Jeju. Dol hareubangs, also called as tol harubangs, hareubangs, or harubangs, are large rock statues with round and bulging eyes, a firmly closed mouth and a soldier’s hat on its head. It stands in a stooped posture with shoulders raised high and hands gathered at its stomach.
With its unique appearance sculpted out of hole-ridden basalt, the Dol hareubang literally stands as the most famous symbol and face of Jeju Island. They are considered to be gods offering both protection and fertility and were placed outside of gates for protection against demons travelling between realities. According to legend, these three demi-gods emerged from Samsung which was said to have been on the northern slopes of Mt. Halla and became the progenitors of the Jeju people who founded the Kingdom of Tamna.
As a main symbol of Jeju, Dol Hareubang can be seen anywhere on this amazing island. From the little statues as souvenirs, pencil vase, figurines, keychains down to tasty fried cakes, all inspired by the famous Dol Hareubangs. To the residents of Jeju Island, south of the Korean mainland, stones are not just objects. Stones were the silent witness to the story behind the island’s creation.