Seongsan Ilchulbong

A long time ago, Seongsan Ilchulbong was a volcanic crater island just off the coast of Jeju. Time passed and a land bridge emerged, connecting Seongsan Ilchulbong to the mainland.

Seongsan IlchulbongFrom far away, it looks a lot like an ancient fortress tower. As you come closer, you start to see the ant-trail of visitors walking up its 182 m. There are some interesting volcanic formations on the way up,


and at the top, there is a broad volcano cone:


Birds few images of the volcano are simply gorgeous, you should definitely look them up!

Olle 1

Jeju island is surrounded by  a total of 26 official walking routes, the “Olles”. Apparently, Olle is a local term referring to the path from the road to one’s house.  I followed Olle 1 whose 15 km my travel guide recommend warmly. On the first part of the route, which led on small  foot paths through a few lovely hills, the way was quite crowded. This is not surprising, as this part of the route offers some nice views on Seongsan Ilchulbong.

Olle 1

Due to the misty weather it was not very photogenic, but you can still clearly see its rectangular shape on the horizon. The second half of the route first followed country roads and then the main coastal road. I got to see the “grandpa” statues typical for Jeju island: Old signaling stations, although how signaling with smoke worked on such a misty coast is a mystery to me:

Signaling station

And even octopuses drying at the roadside:




A unique cultural feature of Jeju is its tradition of female divers, the Haenyo (해녀, 海女). Born out of necessity to supplement the diet and income of the family with sea food harvested in depths down to 20 m, the Haenyeo brought strong matriarchal elements into Jeju’s society. Nowadays, young women have better alternatives to become financially independent, so their numbers are dwindling. But the inhabitants of Jeju seem to agree that preserving their culture is important for their society.

Jeju impressions

I started my full day on Jeju by just walking along the coastal line. Apparently I was graced by typical Jeju weather: Misty and windy. It is probably good for the lungs😉

Black sand

Jeju has some black sand stands.

Black rocks

For a volcanic island, black rock strands are probably a must. Of course there are also grave hills, to remind us that, despite the slightly different climate, we are still in Korea:

Jeju grave

However, only on Jeju I saw walls around a grave. And then there is the occasional reminder that Jeju is indeed a subtropical island:

Palm tree

Honestly, it did not feel very subtropical to me. It was considerably colder on Jeju than in Gwangju, probably due to the wind.

A real life meeting

There are plenty of good reasons to visit Jeju: Its volcanic landscape, the beaches, the food, its unique culture,… However, none of these would have been enough to convince me that it is worth the hassle of getting on another airplane. So why did I go to a remote island? The answer is actually super easy: My Korean teacher lives there, and I finally had the chance to meet her in real life! Actually, I should have said my former Korean teacher, because since September, she is teaching exchange students at a local university and does not have time for individual tutoring any more! As we had not chatted for nearly 2 months, this was also a great opportunity to catch up with each other. We met near my hotel and went to have delicious Galbi (grilled short rips). It was really great to see her in person, and I was really sad that I won’t be able to take classes with her anymore.



A single purpose airport

As one might expect for a city of its size, Seoul has more than one airport. As a visitor from Europe you will almost certainly arrive at Incheon international airport. However, you won’t find any connecting flights within Korea at Incheon. These all leave from Gimpo airport’s domestic terminal. Gimpo’s domestic terminal is rather busy, but there is not much variation in the destinations:


Except for the 12:00 flight for 부산 (Busan), all planes go to 제주 (Jeju)! And mind you, these are not small planes: My flight to Jeju was on a rather full Boeing 747, the flight back was “only” a 737. That’s quite a passenger throughput, isn’t it? The flight takes about an hour, depending on which type of plane you’re on.

Jeongnisima Temple

Jeongnisima temple was the last Baekje site I visited.

Jeongnisima Templecc

This 5-story Pagoda actually is more than 1500 years old and the heart of the temple. There is also a museum about Baekje, which might have been interesting, if my Korean were better.

Buyeo castle

Gongju did not stay the capital of Baekje very long – it soon got replaced by Buyeo,  a bit more than 25 km south-east. Obviously, is the hill right next to the river in Buyeo is the site of yet another no longer existent castle. The biggest sight of this particular no-longer castle is Goronsa temple, at the waterside.


It is actually quite a steep descent down to the temple, but legend has it that it is worth it: Drinking from the well behind the temple supposedly rejuvenates you by three years.

A river bed

River bed

This is the river bed of Daejeon’s Yudeungcheon. There is nothing really special about it, but it is very typical: The actual river seems to nearly vanish in its bed. The size of the river bed lets you imagine how much the river might swell up during the rainy season.

Royal tombs in Gongju

At the first glance, there is little difference between the Royal tombs in Gyeongju (Silla) and those in Gongju (Baekje).  Gongju tomb

At second glance, however, there are quite a few differences.

Gongju tombThere are actually doors leading into the tombs, and until 1997 you apparently could directly visit the tomb. Nowadays,you can only visit replicas in the museum. In Gyeongju, the central chamber of the tomb was made from wood, but in Gongju they used stones and drew paintings on the walls.

Gongju tomb

For the most important grave, that for King Muryeong, they even used bricks, which were very uncommon in the region.

Gongju tombIf you look closely, you can even see the decorations on each individual brick.