Korea (South)

Chejudo Island

Korea's largest island, Chejudo Island is a living folk village which is visited by hundreds of local honeymooners who love its romantic tropical image. It is only an hour's flight from Seoul, Pusan or Taegu.

Cheju City is located on the northern shore and has a number of Western-style hotels and Korean inns. In the centre of the city are the Samsonghyol Holes, from which, according to legend, three demigods named Ko, Yang and Pu emerged to establish Chejudo Island's founding families by marrying three princesses from foreign countries. The holes are so deep that water never collects in them, even after it rains.

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The Chejudo Folklore and Natural History Museum has a huge exhibition room decorated with black volcanic rocks, plus folkcrafts, flora and fauna. In Mok Suk Won Park there is a variety of unusual rocks and storm-polished pieces of wood which have been collected from around the island.

Sangumburi Crater is one of three major craters on the island and is located 438 metres above sea level, 23 kilometres east of Cheju City. It is home to some 420 different species of subtropical, temperate and alpine plants. On the far eastern coast is Songsan Ilch'ulbong (Sunrise Peak), a volcanic crater surrounded by 99 peaks that look like an ancient castle when seen from a distance. A trail leads up to the western edge of the crater for a spectacular view, particularly at sunrise.

Mount Hallasan is the highest mountain in Korea and covers a major part of Chejudo Island. The top of this inactive volcano can be seen from anywhere on the island and is the traditional home of the Cheju people's spirit. The whole mountain is protected as a treasure house of unusual flora and fauna. Chejudo's Tolharubang, (stone grandfathers) can be seen at every turn. They are black lava statues of a kindly old man and in the old days were considered guardian deities.

Islands near Chejudo are Marado in the south surrounded by steep cliffs, Nando off the east coast and Udo Island, which is shaped like a cow.