[WSK] The World Natural Treasure, the Mother Nature of Jeju Island ‘Oreum’

Jeju Island gifted with nature sceneries and 1,700 species of plants, is a marvelous place where you can experience unique geographical features nowhere else can offer. In the center there is the proudly splendid Halla Mountain and neighboring oreums – low mountains of Jeju – reveals the original beauty of the geography of the volcanic island.  

Oreum is a Jeju dialect for a low mountain. There are a good number of oreums as there is even a saying that people of Jeju are born from and returns to oreum after death. Near 380 oforeums are distributed in the island, which way exceeds 250 i.e. the number of those in Mt Etna of Italy.

Oreum consisted of grassland,  natural and artificial forest, and wetland, is distributed intensively in the bottom area of Mt Halla and hilly and mountainous areas. As the altitude of the areas differs the ecological variety is well preserved with high potential value. To be recognized as oreum the mountain should be qualified to have all required component i.e. a crater, shape, and contents; a crater formed by volcanic eruption; shapes of volcanic ashes and scoriae, and sedimentary layer; and pyroclastic materials. Also it is called as ‘ak’ or ‘bong’; Seongsan Ilchulbong, Dusanbong, Songaksan are some examples.

Oreums with different shapes and heights placed along by the ridges of Mt Halla and the coastline of the island invites you to the breathtaking beauty of the Mother Nature Jeju.



The ace view, Nokkome oreum

Nokkomeoreum, where 112 families and 469 species of plants reside> (image: Official Blog of Jeju, New 7 Wonders)

Nokkomeoreum 833.8m above the sea levelcovering an area of 923,692㎡ with the height of234m, girth of 4,390m, and a smaller Nokkomeoreum is also known as ‘brother oreum’ as a pair sitting next by each other. The two mountains stand in high spirits and its exploded crater area is enough to thrill your eyes. Some people are surprised as they think ‘Nokkome’ is Japanese but in fact it derives from a Korean expression! ‘Nopgome’ meaning ‘it is high.’

In the Nokkomeoreum area there are animal species that are protected species (class 2) by the Ministry of Environment including roe, weasel of Jeju, badger and so on. Endangered animals including birds such as goshawk, brown-eared bulbul, kestrel, bush warbler and Red-tongue pit-viper, takydromus wolteri and others are residing as well. Also there are 112 families and 469 species of plants e.g. nutmeg tree, hornbeam, and Galeola septentrionalis Reichb. For sureNokkomeoreum area is some repository of various species of animals and plants. 

If you follow the ridges of the hills a scenic panorama with different faces of Mt Halla andoreums is revealed. At the northern mountain top the view of Jeju city and the sea can be seen at a look. An average of 4~500 people on weekdays and 2~3,000 people on weekends visit the area to see this extraordinary scene. Why not check out Nokkomeoreum yourself and experience the grandeur gift of the nature?


The Queen of OreumDarangswioreum

<Darangswi oreum where ‘Wollangbong Sunrise Festival’ will be held next year> (image: Kyunghyang Shinmun)


Darangswi oreum representing Gujwa town is 382.4m above the sea level, covering an area of800,463㎡ with the height of 227m, and girth of 3,391m. It was named as so because of the crater of the mountain looks round as a moon (Darang sounds similar to ‘dal’ that is moon in Korean). Darangswi oreum is the pride of the villagers as it presents a uniquely beautiful scene for viewing the moon when the full moon rises behind the round crater of the oreum.

While most oreums have asymmetric slops, Darangswi oreum is a vertically balanced oval shape; this outstanding beauty of proportion surely gives a good reason for its title i.e. the ‘Queen oforeum.’

On top of the mountain, there is a funnel shape of huge circular crater. The circumference of the outside of crater is reaching 1,500m, and its depth is 115m just as deep as baekrokdam of Mt. Halla. The area is dense with weeds and cedars on its foot. The area is a huge grassland and if the weather is good, you can see the Seongsan Sunrise HillUdo and a wind power plant complex.

There is a saying that you didn’t see the real Jeju until climbing up Oreum., after the wood stairs to Darangswi oreum were built in 2005, the number of visitors increased. Why don’t you experience the ‘real’ Jeju at Darangswi oreum which is famous for paragliding and the annualWallang hill Sunrise festivals?


Geomun Oreum listed on UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage

<Geomun Oreum, which has Manjang Cave, Gotjawal, etc.>(Image : Korea Tourism Organizaion)

Geomun Oreum, which has the most beautiful scenery among all Oreums in Jeju, is 456.6 meters above sea level, 112 meters high, 4,553 meters in circumference, and 809,860㎡ in extent, which of name, Goemun, was originated from a bunch of trees in that Oreum makes black color. (i.e. Goemun means black in Korean.) Only 300 visitors a day are allowed to go in, and the advanced reservation two days before is a must. It has the longest lava canyon throughout Jeju and the treasure of nature, ‘Gotjawal’, which has a high value in terms of geology as well as ecology.

The crater seen from the top of Goemun oreum spewed out lava to the ocean and created over 20 lava caves around, such as Bengdui cave, Manjang cave, Kimnyeongsa cave, etc. As designated as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage by UNESCO, oreum has the representative lava caves of Jeju. Among these caves, only Manjang cave is open to public. The course is flat and the passage is also wide that even the old and weak can look around without a big difficulty.

Al oreum is a paeasitic volcano that rose on the center of the crater of Geomun oreum. You can see 9 hills forming the Geomun oreum from the observatory which is 1km apart from the tour starting spot. In addition, the crater of Geomun oreum is 4 times larger than that of Mt Hall. You will be overwhelmed at the marvelous scenery of nature.

Before visiting Geomun oreum, the commentator for Natural Heritage gives several notices. You should wear the hiking boots, but not with the hiking stick. You can only bring a bottle of water.

Source: http://blog.daum.net/korea_brand/1128 (World Students In Korea Newspaper No. 39, May 1, 2011)

[WSK] Secret Garden, the TV Drama is not to end

Secret Garden, a Korean TV drama that won favorable attention from the audience for the actors’ excellent performance and its famous lines, has just come to end. As the TV drama of the moment generating a lot of talks, not only its storyline but also the fashion, props and even NG takes became a great interest among the fans.


In particular, the location sites of the TV drama where the main characters’ scenes have been taken were what aroused the audiences’ curiosity the most. Let us have a closer look to the places Secret Garden invited their fans; the workshop location where Joo Won (Male leading charater) and Lime (female leading character) looked through the eyes of love of each other, Jeju hotel site where the two souls were switched and Petite France where the couple has first met.




Petite France, Joo Won first meets Lime


Do you remember the place where Joo Won first meets Lime, mistaking her as Park Chae Rin who Oscar asked to find for him? The romantic and fairytale village that often appears on TV or movie screen is from Petite France, a French village located in Gapyeong-gun Cheongpyeong-myeon, Korea.


The place combined with Goseong Youth Training Center, has sixteen French-style architectures and provides various activities to experience French culture during the stay. The site has a gift shop themed on Little Prince, a representative novel of a renowned French writer Antoine Marie Roger de Saint-Exupéry and a gallery where an exhibition on the theme cock – the symbol of France is on show. Every month they have various events offered, so it would be worth to check out the website at www.pfcamp.com for more information before your visit.


<Petite France where tourists can experience French culture>


The Seaes hotel in Jeju, the two souls switch their bodies


At the beautiful blue seashore, Joo Won and Lime confronts their destiny that inevitably ties their relationship; their souls switch bodies of each other. This happened right at the Seaes hotel in Jeju, a place of traditional and sophisticated aesthetic where Joo Won frequently visited for his stay. Later the switched souls returned back to their bodies with a kiss, and the bench on which they sat on at that moment as well can be found at this hotel site. The hotel located by Jungmun seashore, Seogwipo-si is a special resort hotel which embraces the beautiful scenery and taste of traditions of Jeju.



The Seaes hotel is unique for keeping the regional features of the traditional housing culture of Jeju i.e. Doldam (traditional gates built with stones) and traditional straw-roofed houses. The guest rooms have private terraces where sunrises and sunsets can be seen and facilities such as open gardens and outdoor pools are offered for the guests. Even Traditional Han Room, a private villa house is offered as a guest house for those who want more privacy during the stay while two types, Ko-dang and Cho-dang is available.


In addition, eight Jeju Olle courses that pass by the hotel is another benefit. This well shows how much the hotel harmonizes with the natural environment. For the excellent scenery, besides Secret Garden, it has a number of TV dramas that took location at the site; Boys Before Flowers, The Snow Queen, and Sorry I Love You. It surely is one of top attractions of Jeju.



Visit the Shelter of nature



Lime and her action training academy, for a workshop, visit the villa the top 1% rich man, Kim Joo Won owns. During the stay, Joo Won stares at Lime with love while she is sleeping; this moment was appreciated as one of the best scenes that excited many fans of the couple.


The scene where the two had a walk with beautiful fallen leaves the following day and the starry nights they spend together was shot at the newly opened Resom Forest at Jecheon city, Chung-buk. As Joo Won has explained to the investors inside the TV drama, the resort aims a resort of nature itself. The site shall cure the exhausted minds and bodies of the tired city people being full of dozens of trees and wild flowers, including a 150 year-old pine tree.


<Resom Forest>


Resom Forest has a number of beautifully named paths; Sosori Baram-gil, Poreureu Solrae-gil, Gajaegineun Goljjack-gil, and Sanbaragi Neungseon-gil and so on. Especially the path the two main characters had a walk together is now entitled as ‘Secret Road,’ sending best wishes to all loving couples who walk the path together. There are also health programs through a walk in the forest such as ‘walking meditation’ and ‘walking the Resom Dule-gil path’ inviting everyone, men and women of all ages to the forest.



Secret Garden made the romantic comedy TV genre, after a six-year period, to win back the top TV audience rating, but would not the real location sites be even more romantic than the TV drama? The healthy, beautiful places with interesting narratives located in every corners of Korea are in fact the secret locations for us. Secret Garden, the TV drama is over but why not visit one of the celebrated sites and enjoy or own secret gardens instead?




Source: http://blog.naver.com/korea_brand/10102280726 (World Students In Korea Newspaper No. 34, February 8, 2011)

[WSK] Growing Coffee on Jeju Island

Love for coffee is getting pandemic these days. You can find a coffee shop in every block of a sizable office district. Some people go so far as buying espresso machines and other coffee gadgets to furnish in their own homes. (Well, being one of those crazy coffee lovers myself, I am just being envious.)

Coffee is a highly sensitive plant, requiring specific growing conditions. It grows in subtropical regions where the temperature stays above 10 degrees Celsius even during winter. That’s why farming coffee has been mostly considered out of the question in Korea.

Well, Ms. Roh Jin-Yi doesn’t accept that.

<Most of the world’s coffee is grown in a band around the equator from 25 degrees

north to 25 degrees south of the equator>
Korea’s First Coffee Farmer

The first coffee farmer in Korea, Ms. Roh has invested all her money and energy in farming coffee in a 400-pyeong (1 pyeong equals 3.3 square meters) green house in Jeju City since early 2008.

Despite the unfavorable conditions, even Jeju being too cold, Ms. Roh has been persistent in realizing her dream of cultivating coffee. And she has succeeded to reap enough coffee for about 10% of Jeju citizens to sample taste.

And last October, Ms. Roh even held the first Jeju Coffee Festival in her own coffee plantation. At the festival, there was coffee tasting, coffee drinking competitions, hands-on experience of roasting coffee beans and hand-dripping.

<The first coffee farmer in Korea, Ms. Roh Jin-Yi>
Hard Work, But I Love It

Ms. Roh is currently growing some 25,000 coffee trees in a 5,600 square meters plantation. And it is no easy job looking after those highly sensitive plants. They have to be watered twice a day (at the break of dawn and around sunset) for 3, 4 hours. A storm hits, and the fragile plants get all knocked out of their pots, and Ms. Roh has to spend many sleepless days harnessing them back in. They also need to get nutrition shots at regular, designated times.

Roh says she does not expect coffee farming to become a profitable business.

“It’s costly to keep the green house warm and it takes 3 to 5 years from germination to harvest. But I’m doing this not because I want to make money, but because I like it,” says the coffee farmer. And adds, “If I make money later, I would like to build a coffee museum,” expressing her ultimate ambition.

Many cheers and well wishes to her dream!


Source: http://blog.daum.net/korea_brand/926 (World Students In Korea Newspaper No. 32, January 1, 2011)

[WSK] Foreign Journalists Visit Jeju Olle Road

Twenty Seoul-based foreign journalists on last November 19 and 20 visited the Jeju Olle Road as part of their Jeju Press Tour program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Traditional Jeju Culture and Haenyeo (sea women)

The twenty foreign journalists, though still somewhat fatigued from the intense reporting they had for the G20 Seoul Summit, participated in the Jeju tour with great zeal and curiosity, especially for the much talked about Olle Road and Jeju haenyeo.

On the first day of their tour, Jeju greeted the journalists with an unusually clear, azure sky and a picture-perfect coast line.

At the center of attention in the tour was, of course, the haenyeo – Jeju’s sea women. A journalist for Tokyo Newspaper expressed his special interest for Jeju haenyeo, saying although Japan also has something like sea women he had never seen the Jeju haenyeo. As four, five haenyeo dove into the sea and began their “sea-picking” routine, the group of visitors all flocked to the water in excitement to take photos.

<The group of foreign journalists all flocked to the water in excitement to take photos.>

Haenyeo dive into 20m deep into the ocean and collect sea products, holding their breath for as long as two minutes. Holding breath is hard enough; but doing that in the middle of cold sea water, swimming AND collecting things? What an amazing feat!

As one of the haenyeo, a 76-year-old sea veteran, pulled out of the water and showed a “domchi” which is a very rare catch, a big applause erupted among the journalists. The elderly haenyeo has been sea-picking since the age of 15.

But sadly, what used to amount to 15,000 Jeju haenyeo has now plummeted to a mere 5,600. And most of them are in their sixties and seventies. Those in their thirties are just a handful now, less than a dozen.

<As one of the haenyeo, a 76-year-old sea veteran, pulled out of the water and showed a ‘domchi’>

Perfect Harmony of the Sea and the Cliffs

The foreign journalists were once again amazed and awed by the beauty of Seongsan Ilchulbong, a peak that rose from under the sea in a volcanic eruption over 100,000 years ago.

Seongsan Ilchulbong is located on the eastern end of Jeju Island and there is a huge crater at its top. With the 99 sharp rocks surrounding the crater, it looks like a gigantic crown. While the southeast and north sides are cliffs, the northwest side is a grassy hill, forming a truly distinctive ambience.

The journalists concluded their first day with a visit to Chyeonjiyeon Waterfall, and their second day was finally the much anticipated Olle Road.

The Olle walking path opened its first route in 2007 and is now furnished with 22 routes of 357km. In the local Jeju dialect, “Olle” was originally used to refer to the narrow path between the street and one’s doorstep. The hiking trail was founded by Myung-Sook Suh who was inspired upon hearing from a certain English tourist that he had healed his hurt soul walking the Jeju roads.

The route the journalists trod that day was Route 10 which is a course a little more taxing than a leisurely walk. You will be able to enjoy a scenic view of cliffs and the ocean. This particular route was declared as “Jeju Olle-Switzerland Friendship Road” last April upon establishing an MOU with the Swiss tourism administration. After the good amount of exercise followed, of course, a sumptuous meal composed of just-caught Jeju sea food and makgeolli.

At the end of the delightful tour, the journalists expressed their wish for having more nature-oriented tourist spots like the Jeju Olle Road. Although they may be somewhat less convenient than those equipped with first-rate technology and amenities, sometimes what we want these days are places that are preserved as they originally were – somewhere we can rest and heal our jaded souls.

Source: http://blog.naver.com/korea_brand/10099192681 (World Students In Korea Newspaper No. 31, December 15, 2010)

[WSK] Korea’s Women of the Sea (Haenyeo)

The no. 1 search word related to Jeju Island of Korea is hands down the “Ollegil (Olle Road).” Just thinking about taking a walk on Ollegil, especially in the autumn with all this beautiful foliage, lifts one’s mood.

Some while ago, though, before Ollegil came to be such a hot tourist spot, the first thing that came to one’s head thinking about Jeju used to be the “haenyeo,” the sea women; they are female divers in the Korean province of Jeju.

The women born in Jeju had to earn a living either by farming crops or picking sea products. The haenyeo often represents a harsh and strenuous life.

What used to amount to as many as 15,000 haenyeo in 1970 has now plummeted down to a mere third of that number; and most of them are over seventy years of age at that, meaning that haenyeo are fast disappearing.

In light of this sad reality, The LA Times published a feature article on Korean haenyeo, their traditions and current situations.


<An article on haenyeo published in The LA Times>


Haenyeo, Epitome of Toughness

The haenyeo is assumed to have first appeared in the primeval! era when people started turning to the sea for food. It goes similar for the haenyeo of Jeju as well, based upon the age of the shrines on the island built for the safety of fishermen and haenyeo. There are several ancient proverbs and old sayings as well that describe Jeju haenyeo’s physical strength and their tough lifestyle.


<A Jeju haenyeo holding seaweed she caught (Photo courtesy of naver.com)>


There is one saying to the effect that Jeju haenyeo don’t stay in bed for more than three days after giving birth to a child, stressing their toughness. Another saying goes “Born as a Jeju woman, she should be able to support her household, no problem.”

The LA Times introduced the life of Jeju haenyeo in its front page, including in-person interviews that actually took place on the island.


The LA Times Illustrates Korea’s Old Tradition

The article of The LA Times, one of the five major newspapers of the U.S, featured the youngest Jeju haenyeo in Korea under the title “Korean island women carry on diving tradition.” The well-researched numbers and figures in the article point to the fact that the number of haenyeo is decreasing rapidly today in Korea.

The daughters who are handed down the know-how of sea-diving from their mothers (e.g. how to avoid sharks and how to hold breath and stay underwater for a long time) are turning elsewhere for other possibilities of living. Although it is true that not many women are obligated to choose the harsh life of haenyeo nowadays, there still are mothers who take pride in that particular calling, and with that calling, having brought up good daughters.

A Korean newspaper once covered the story of a 69-year-old woman who still hasn’t let go of the life of a haenyeo. She started sea-diving at the age of 11, tutored by her mother, and has since lived with and in the sea for 58 years. She says she still goes out to the sea about ten times a month and proudly adds that she has raised a son and four daughters.


Not for Money, But To Keep a Tradition Alive

The LA Times article contains an interview of the youngest haenyeo, Ms. Jae-Yeon Kim, who is 33 years old. Ms. Kim says she learns to become a haenyeo not to make money but because it connects her to her ancestors. She must learn all there is to learn about sea-diving before the elder haenyeos pass away so that sometime in the future she will be able to pass down the skills and the know-how.


The article, while praising Ms. Kim’s courage in having chosen a lifestyle of such harshness in order to keep a tradition alive, emphasizes the need on a more national level for preserving the traditions of haenyeo. The value and significance of that age-long calling is priceless.


To read the LA Times article: clik here.


Source: http://blog.daum.net/korea_brand/846 (World Student In Korea Newspaper No. 29, 15 November 2010)