Jejudo 제주도, or Jeju Island is Korea’s largest island off the southwest coast of the Korean Peninsula and is the most popular tourist destination for newlyweds, couples, and families. Palm trees, basalt, and beautiful beaches make exotic sights that are hard to see anywhere else in Korea.
Mt. Halla 한라산 stands tall at 1,947 meters high (6,387 feet) in the center of the island and is the highest mountain in South Korea. It was formed from a lava eruption at the end of the 3rd Cenozoic Era. On top of the mountain is a beautiful lake called Baekrokdam 백록담. While the mountain looks peaceful on the outside, it’s actually dormant – the most recent volcanic activity was 1,000 years ago during the Goryeo Dynasty, according to history.
Hey, guys! My name is dolhareubang 돌하르방! (dol = “stone,” hareubang = Jeju dialect for “grandfather/senior”). As the name suggests, we are statues carved from porous basalt (volcanic rock) and we can be as tall as three meters (10 ft)! Our face has bulging eyes, a long broad nose, and a hint of a smile. Like our friends jangseung 장승, you can find us outside of town gates, working 24/7, protecting the townspeople from the awful demons! We’re very popular among women because we’re a symbol of fertility – There’s a myth that if pregnant women touch our nose, they will have a son. The way we place our hands has a meaning too. We rest them on the bellies, in sets of two, one higher than the other. If our left hand is higher, it symbolizes a writer/scholar, and a military figure if the right hand is placed higher. According to the Tamraji 탐라지, a historical town chronicle of Jeju Island, we made a debut in 1754, and some of our friends stood outside the Eastern, Western, and Southern gates of the Jeju City fortress as guardian deities. Today, we’re made into awesome souvenirs, including chocolates, miniatures, and key chains!
HAENYEO : KOREAN MERMAIDS
There is a mermaid in Jeju Island! The women in the iconic black diving suit are called haenyeo 해녀 (“Sea Woman“). Amazingly, they dive and collect seafood without oxygen tanks (there’s a law set to prevent over-fishing and preserve the ecosystem, and as a result, their ability to hold their breath is outstanding). Thanks to the Jeju mermaids, we can enjoy local delicacies like abalone and sea cucumber!
Abalone porridge 전복죽 is Jeju’s delicacy – Available on Amazon.