Autumn in Jeju, 2014
After lunch, we headed to our next destination - Seongsan Ilchulbong, another UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. Located on the eastern end of Jeju Island, Seongsan Ilchulbong rose from under the sea in a volcanic eruption over 100,000 years ago with a huge crater on top of the peak. Seongsang Ilchulbong is famous with sunrise just like it's name (Il-chul-bong means Sunrise Peak). The peak is open 1 hour before sunrise everyday for those who would wish to catch the sunrise.
The 5 minutes driving distance from the restaurant where we had our lunch became l5 minutes longer due to traffic congested on the Chuseok holidays. We park our cars at the big open air carpark which is Free of charge. Admission fee is required to enter to the Seongsan Ilchulbong:
Individuals :- Adults 2,000 won / Children & Teenagers 1,000 won
Groups (10 pax & above) :- Adults 1,600 won / Children & Teenagers 800 won
* Adults (ages 25-64), Children & Teenagers (ages 7-24)
- Go up to the 180m peak to see the huge crater, beautiful view of Jeju-do East Sea & Seongsan town as well as sunrise (go an hour early before sunrise).
- Walk down to the black sand beach, watch Jeju Women Diver show (perform twice a day) and enjoy the fresh catch by Women Divers (charges apply).
- Horse riding & stroll around the ridge (charges apply).
Jeju Woman Diver Performance 해녀물질공연
The performance is held twice daily:
Time : 1.30 PM & 3 PM
Venue : In front of the Hae-nyeo House
The Haenyeo House (해녀의집) is located at the black sand beach. From the park entrance, take the left path and walk thru the ridge towards the end there will be a stairs down to the beach. About 5 minutes ++ walking distance.
The view from the ridge is truly breathtaking. We were at Seongsan Ilchulbong 15 minutes before the 3PM performance start, however we missed the show. Simply because we did not walk down to the beach and Haenyeo House. It was so crowded down there at Haenyeo house, so we thought we could watch the performance from top. But we see nothing at all (but could hear some music and speech) after some 10 minutes passed. That's where we found out we miss the show.
That's Haenyeo house 해녀의집 at the black beach. In the performance, the woman divers appear in their diving suits, carries only big oval shape googles, a float to mark their location, a weeding hoe to dig abalones & shellfish, and a netting basket to keep the collections, dive into the 10 to 20 meter depth undersea collecting the shellfishes (abalone. oysters, sea urchin etc) by holding their breath for at least 2-3 minutes. When they return to sea surface, you can hear they make whistling sound which is a unique way of breathing by Haenyeo. Yous can consume those fresh catch (usually eaten raw) by paying a fair price.
The place where 3 of us (me, my sister & brother) standing were marked as "boating". Not sure what boating is, probably it refer as the observation point where we could see Seongsan Port where visitor can take a boat to visit Udo. Udo Island ("Cow-Island" in Korean) was named due to the shape of the island resembles a lying cow. Udo can be visit as a 1 day trip. Activity like cycling around the island, hiking or sea fishing is available in the island.
The Crater @ 180m Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
After missed out the Hanyeo performance, we start heading up to the peak without wasting time. It takes about 20 minutes to the top and less than 20 minutes going down - individual speed can be vary. The ascending trail is stone-paved stairs, while descending is wooden stairs with anti-slip strips, both in two different routes.
Along the way up, we pass-by 3 unique rocks that formed by different erosion processes of unconsolidated tuff deposits. These rocks were describe as "the guardian of Eastern Sea of Jeju Island" and often people take a pit stop at the rocks. I guess not many people interested in the rocks, still I would like to share with you stories about these rock, ranked from lowest to highest during ascending as below:
1) Deung Gyeong Dol Bawi / Jing Gyeung Dol (등경돌바위 / 징경돌) - [No picture taken]
First huge & tall unique rock encounter during the climb is Lamp Rock - shape resembles an ancient Korean lamp with uneven holes on the surface. The local name it Dueng Gyeol Dol (燈擊巖 in Hanja means lamp rock). The Seongsan villager have a custom of bowing four times to Lamp Rock. 2 bows for the goddess who created Jeju Island, while other 2 bows are for General Kim Tong Jeong, who devoted his life to defending the country during Koryo Dynasty.
2) Chogwanbawi / Geumma Stone (초관바위 / 금마석)
Legend says who passed by this rock would be promoted quickly. in 1597, a military bases was stationed at the sunrise peak fortress. Many of the troops touched this rock praying for fast promotion, making half of the stone worn out. In order to protect the stone, law was imposed to ban anyone from touching it. Therefore it is called Geum-ma seok (禁磨石 meaning ban on touching stone) or chog-wan bawi (哨官巖 battalion rock).
3) Gombawi / Jung Jang Gun Bawi (곰바위 / 중장군바위)
Jung Jang Gun Bawi (General Rock) also known as Gom-bawi (Bear rock) because it resembles a figure of a pair of male and female bear standing in shape. Person who pass by and looking at this rock will learn about humility and virtue.
After 20 minutes hike, here we are standing at the 180m Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak - my father, brother, sister, nephew, husband and me! My nephew Jack who is going to be 5 years old next month, walked all the way up to the top and going down by himself by holding my father and my sister's hand. A Korean Ajeossi was impressed after knowing Jack is barely 5 years old, and he gave Jack a thumbs up for his incredible strength.
As you can see the peak is an observation deck built at the edge of the crater. The 600m in diameter and 90m high crater is surrounding by 99 sharp rocks, make it looks like a huge crown. The sunrise from the crater is magnificent, my brother in law who currently live in Jeju with his family, went up to the peak for New Year Sunrise told us that we should catch the sunrise if we visit Jeju again.
Can't take my eyes off the crater! But we can't stop too long as the rest of our family members has been waited for more than an hour down there.
Mind your steps while descending as you might be distract by the beautiful views right in front of you. Husband capture an unknown bird close-up while waiting for us slowly descending with Jack whose seems started to get exhausted. Anyway, It only took us less than 15 minutes to reach the park entrance.
Our visit to Seongsan Ilchulbong end at 4.15pm (Korea time) with photo of the kids hug the Dol-Harubang and my in-laws happily playing around with their granddaughter Seung Ji while waiting.
How to get here [by bus] :
1) From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal - take Direct Bus (Dongilju bus bound for Seongsan) and get off at Seongsalliipgu Bus Stop. (Travel time : about 2hr) - walk 1km towards Seongsan Peak direction.
2) From Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal - Take a Direct Bus (Dongilju bus bound for Seongsan) and get off at Seongsalliipgu Bus Stop (Travel time: about 2hr 30min) - walk 1km towards Seongsan Peak direction.
Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산 일출봉)
Address : 284-12, Ilchul-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
제주특별자치도 서귀포시 성산읍 일출로 284-12
Website : Jeju Tourism Organization