JEJU-DO ISLAND

Rendezvous with the freediving

Haenyeo grand mothers of the sea

> Encounter with Jeju-do Island off the coast of South Korea < 

The locals call Jeju-do "The Hawaii of the Orient" as they are attracted to the natural treasures of the island: the Ch'eon-ji-yeon and Cheong-bang waterfalls around Sogwip'o, extensive systems of spectacular lava-tube formations, large caves, extinct volcanoes, and the rough sea. So, obviously, as island enthusiast, we had to spend a week here exploring the island. The entire island is a World Heritage Site, and the nature is admittedly a big draw, with the island often clothed in swirling mist. We think however that the real treasure is the people and odd culture characterized by the Haenyeos.

Women here are known as Haenyoes. They are the heads of the unusual and unique matriarchal family structures and the island society. They work as free-divers all year round whatever the temperature of the water, collecting abalones and conches. All over the island, we saw how lava and explosive magma was a constant feature, not just in natural formations but also as a material for gnome-like, slightly eerie manmade statues and sculptures, which create a watchful atmosphere while on the island. It creates a strong sense of mythology and spirit that speaks to the Korean visitor (and the few foreigners who come to hear about the island) with the magnetism of a pilgrimage.

 

 

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© Anders M. Pedersen & Jakob M. Pedersen

All photos have been taken by Anders & Jakob.

    Waterfall that empty into the ocean

    The list of waterfalls around the world which debouche into an ocean is very short. We've visited several of them, incl. the wild Bøsdalafossur waterfall on the remote Faroe Islands in the Norhern Atlantic. On Jeju Island, Jeongbang Pokpo waterfall is a close candidate on the beauty-scale, dropping 23m directly into the sea. After spending an hour here, we had raw seafood as lunch on the beach right next to the waterfall, together with a bunch of drunken Korean men. "Geonbae!" ("Cheers!")