Jeju Island, Korea


(Chris Lynch) #1

Copy/paste from a writeup I just tossed on facebook:
(+ some background- Jeju is “Korea’s Hawaii”… small volcanic island, 1hr flight from Seoul. Jeju-Seoul is one of the busiest air routes in the world, so it’s cheap and easy to visit. There are fresh and saltwater fish there, so I will take some fishing gear in the spring or summer. There are even Ayu!)

Third time in Korea, i finally fucking did it. I feel like a total chump for having put it off this long.
Flights from Gimpo are hilariously cheap right now, since it’s -kinda- the off season. Jeju doesn’t have a true off season, because people go in the winter for a little warmer weather, or climbing Halla-san in the snow. Either way, I was on my way back from Busan on Jan 1st and realized I was going to be sitting on my ass in my still empty apartment (waiting on TMO to find my stuff) or making random trips to Seoul/Suwon if I didn’t figure something out for the remainder of my “new years” week (only had to check in Weds).

I looked on Google Flights, weds afternoon departure, and return fri at noon was only ~$45. We don’t have to be on leave for Jeju like back in the day, so it’s the most exotic/exciting place somebody stationed in Korea can go with less than 24hrs planning involved. Maybe Ulleungdo, but that has a MUCH steeper learning curve for the travel required.
ANYWAYS…

I settled on Jin Air instead of Jeju Air, because I liked the flight times better, gave me an extra 6hrs on the ground and not flying out of GMP at 10pm. Was $50 instead of $45. I had like negative legroom on the way over, but honestly other than that it was more comfortable than the subway ride to the airport, and took less time (only 50min flight time once we got to altitude).
I booked a rental with Jeju OK/Sixt- https://www.sixt.global/php/reservation, their site wouldnt’ allow me to book anything less than 24hrs out, so i called them and 5mins later they had me a “New Morning” lined up for the princely sum of W44,800 (total, including insurance) for 24hrs. This had me covered for Thurs morning to when I needed to return to the airport Friday.
Used my usual, booking.com, to find a cheap guesthouse, but next time I think I’ll just crash at one of the hundreds of Jjimjilbang/sauna I saw in the more happening areas (compared to where i stayed), which will be even cheaper (~$7/night) and come with the added bonus of baths/saunas.
Ate some good Japanese izakaya food near City Hall area which is similar to Songtan’s City Hall area- lots of bars and stuff. Took another bus across town to Tapdong which is where Magpie Brewing (Seoul) has a location called Bluebird.
LOADS of great Korean craft beers on tap, something for every beer drinker.
Took a cab back to my place- cabs and busses are cheaper than in mainland Korea- Taxi starts at 2700? and busses are 1050?.. If you are staying in Jeju city, it costs nothing to get around by bus/taxi.

Went and got my rental in the morning, then made my way to Halla-san. Halla-san, or Halla Mountain, is the tallest mtn in (south) Korea, at just over 1.9km tall… that’s a pretty fucking good size. Dormant volcano. Lower elevations of Jeju are in the 40’s right now, but there is a ton of snow on Halla.
Drive up was nice and scenic, I saw a pheasant in a green tea field, lots of horses (which are food on Jeju) and cows.
Parked, and started hiking TO the trailhead. Ugh, 2.5km until I could start the actual hike.
Got to the trail, some ajumma tried to sell my ice spikes, said I wouldn’t make it without them. Bitch, I’m wearing cotton khakis, I shouldn’t even be going on this mountain, but here I am. I don’t need spikes.
I had an awesome hike up, helped several Koreans who were slipping and busting their asses with spikes. Saw a TV crew following some K-pop looking dudes.
I made it to a scenic “pull off” at 1700m, and decided that was as far as I’d go this trip, I’ll come back with appropriate clothing for the summit, and prob in warmer weather (spring). Got some awesome photos with my phone, had an amazing experience, and got a LOT higher up than I honestly planned on.
Hike down was uneventful, which is good I guess.

Got back to my bed at the guesthouse and passed the fuck out for a solid 3hrs. I was wiped out.
Needed a good meal after that- good time for some Jeju black pork! This shit was super good. I got a 100g strip of pork belly and a 190g chunk of shoulder. Was like $33? Not unreasonable for a totally delicious, fatty, filling local specialty.

More beer. Back to Bluebird because it was just so fucking good the night before. Their prices were great too. Enough beer to be satisfied and it was like getting two shitty beers in the SED.

Back to bed. W I P E D out.
Return the rental, head to airport in the morning. Sushi for breakfast. Well, shrimp. I’m a weirdo and with all my time in Japan and Korea I still don’t get down with 98% of raw fish options.

Flight back was better than the flight over. I checked in pretty far in advance, they let me pick my seat and didn’t charge anything for an exit row. They even told me which was the BEST exit row (front of the wing, so view wasn’t obstructed) and got me in there.

photos are Pixel 2, some with Moment lenses.

TL;DR-
If you are in Korea and don’t go to Jeju, you’re stupid. Jeju is totally amazing, it has a very similar feel to Okinawa and I guess Hawaii, just with a snowy volcano in the middle (not like Oki). You could go for two nights and spend less than $100 on tickets, transportation, and a place to sleep.
If you really want to do it cheap, just eat at GS25/7-11 instead of going out.


(Isaac Tait) #2

Geez, looking at the photos on Google Maps - the place looks awesome. The rock climbing potential looks great as well. That Bluebird by Magpie beer looks delicious and the mermaids were a nice touch for sure :rofl:

It’s not Korea, but I have wanted to visit this island for some fishing action above the マリュドゥの滝 waterfall. Keiichi and I talked about it at the fishing show in Yokohama last year (oh wait I can’t say that anymore - it was two years ago). I need to get back overseas… Good on ya @Chris_Lynch for making this trip happen.

Edit: Is there really a hobbit village on Jeju? Or did someone upload the wrong photo to Google Maps?


(Chris Lynch) #3

Iriomote is like Okinawa’s Jeju… Or maybe “Okinawa’s Okinawa” hahaha
I will finally visit Iriomote this next time we are stationed there. I have been following several anglers down there and the fishing looks awesome.

Jeju has some of the same species of goby and gudgeon that can be found in brackish waters of Japan, so it should be fun for UL lure fishing just like Iriomote.

I don’t think there’s a hobbit village, there is a big problem I’ve seen on google maps of people uploading random photos all over the place, just to get higher levels as a local guide. This stems from back when they were giving away free account storage as a perk.


(David Walker) #4

Interesting timing. Last evening on NatGeo there were 3 episodes of Wild Japan and two episodes of Wild Korea. Some amazing people in both countries.

In Japan were two older ladies (about 70 years old) who lived on a small island, I don’t recall its name, just off the coast of Okinawa. After dark they would wade into the ocean to capture by hand, not wearing any type of protective gear, some species of seriously venomous sea snakes. Stuff them in a sack then take them home to be smoked, then later cooked in some kind of favorite traditional soup.

In Korea on Jeju Island were featured a group Heanyeo - elderly women who would free dive to gather conch off the ocean floor.

It was said this is an occupation controlled by these women. But here’s the deal. Most of them were near 70 years old. One woman was 94 years old. :open_mouth: She had been doing this type of diving since she was 12 years old. At the age of 94 they said she could no longer hold her breath as long as she could when younger, but she still had the stamina to dive and collect conch all day. The leader of the group, who decided whether it was safe to dive that day or not was 70 y.o, Indeed they stated anyone less than 70 y.o, was considered young. However, they also said the previous year one of their 70-something year old team members lost her life after getting caught by strong ocean currents or some other sea hazard.

Here are a couple of YouTube videos featuring the same women. Some of the video is the same as in last evening’s broadcast, some was edited out and not shown. I suspect all of this video was probably filmed during the same NatGeo trip to the island.

The Last Mermaids of Jeju

Culture of Jeju Haenyeo (women divers)


(Chris Lynch) #5

Yes! The women divers are awesome.

The sea snakes are irabu, or at least that is what the soup from them is called. I’ve not tried it but I will next year when I move back there.