June 21, 2017

Travel Korea - Jeju Island, Day 3

On the third and final day in Jeju we found ourselves again waking up again at 5 am. We decided to kill time by doing our laundry at a nearby coin laundromat and grabbing breakfast at GS25, those convenience stores me and Yangkyu obsessed over the entire time we were in Korea. We had instant ramen because why not?? (and can I tell you? They have GS25 brand and flavors not sold here in the US!)

By 10 am we had washed up, semi tidied our room - dirty towels in one corner on the floor in the bathroom, empty bottles rinsed and stacked near the kitchen sink, bed unmade but sheets on top of the bed instead of half falling off or entirely on the floor (do you do this? We know the room gets cleaned but we hate leaving it in an unruly manner) and packed our car to hit a couple more sightseeing spots before heading back to Jeju City for our flight back to Seoul. 

On day 2 we were at Cheon Ji Yeon waterfall, and day 3 we decided to go to Jeongbang waterfall right in Seogwipo City, which was a blue beyond blue and so breathtaking to view.

Jeongbang waterfall is a popular tourist spot and while there was a crowd when we got there, Yangkyu and I were still thanking our lucky stars that it wasn't overly crowded - something we did not take for granted the entire time we were on Jeju Island.

There is a legend where Seogwipo is said to have gotten its name from this waterball. Emperor Jin of China (259 BC - 210 BC) sent his servant, Seobul, to find magical herbs on Mount Halla (Hallasan), which promised eternal youth. Seobul failed to find this herb but came across Jeongbang Falls where he left his mark on the stone, "Seobul Gwaji (which means "Seobul was here). While that writing is not there for tourists to see, there is another inscription on the wall that says, "Seobulgwacha."

I love these kinds of legends, stories and folklore. It is one of the best parts about traveling.

After Jeongbang waterfall, Yangkyu and I decided to head back toward Jeju City and stop at a place that Yangkyu thought I would enjoy. We had originally planned on going to Sung San Ilchoongbong, but we were afraid that we would not have enough time and decided (regretfully) to pass on it this time around (if we are ever back in Jeju Island, we will definitely be making the hike up).

We arrived at a place called Seongeup Folk Village which was very similar to Jeju Folk Village, which we went to on day 1 of our trip. The biggest difference was that real residents actually live in here.

With the help of government assistance, this whole village has been preserved and renovated to meet the needs of residents while keeping to the traditional rock-walled, thatched roof architecture of homes. Some modernized additions to the village include souvenir shops, restaurants and parking lots but for the most part the village sticks to what it would have looked like many years ago.

The village itself is surrounded by a fortress wall. You are free to walk around and view on your own. There are some houses which are for exhibition purposes only. When we were there, there were a number of school children who came with a guided tour. I also noticed some reviews of other tourists who visited Seongeup Village who weren't all that impressed. We enjoyed the leisurely time and appreciated the authenticity, and also the food.

Yangkyu and I decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants in Seongeup Folk Village. We had an amazing meal of mackerel along with fresh side dishes of various wild greens found up on the mountains. It was comfort food at its best and very Jeju-isque (making up words here because I can't find existing words to describe how pleasant dining here was - very country just doesn't cut it).

When we were there, we noticed that this restaurant mostly had business by partnering with tour companies. They hosted one large parties at a time and we were the only ones who came on our own. While the owners (husband and wife who cooked and served - no other workers present) were busy entertaining the large number people in the tour groups (we witnessed two while we ate), they were still attentive to us, making sure we had enough side dishes and asking us if the food was to our liking. They also sold dried wild greens for people who wanted to take it home to make side dishes on their own.

I also eavesdropped on an interesting tidbit. People of Jeju Island put dwenjang (or fermented bean paste) in everything to add flavor. This is because when MSG was popular in mainland Korea after the war in the 60s, it was hard to ship it over to Jeju at the time. And so, people relied on bean paste instead. It probably worked out better for them in the end, as MSG is incredibly bad for your health, and fermented bean paste is natural and healthy. We noticed in our seaweed soup there was fermented bean curd in it (I normally don't make mine with fermented bean curd).

After lunch, we strolled around a bit more and began to look back on all the sights and places we saw on Jeju Island. We didn't want to go back but our time was nearing to head back to Jeju City.

Before leaving, we did end up making a new friend (here he is again). A cute white dog (Yangkyu said Piri sent him us to us as well). I spent a good 20 minutes hanging out with him.

At first when we spotted him, there was a bunch of school kids that came and overwhelmed the poor dog. The kids were excited to see him and so they were all up in his face, screaming, saying hi, asking for his paw. It was so very frustrating and sad to see. The adults didn't discourage them or teach them the proper way to greet a dog even though the dog was cowering - his tail between his legs, ears down, hiding inside his dog house (which the kids kept hitting and pounding for him to come out) and even growled at one point. The growling didn't phase the kids and they kept at it. It got to the point where I yelled in English, "You're scaring him. Stop! Just stop!" I tried to speak as much Korean while I was there but found that when I'm in a state of exasperation or couldn't find words easily, my English just came out naturally.

After they heard me, some adults slowly began to take the kids away and distracted them so they can be lured away from the dog. One of the children was a special needs child and the adults needed more creative ways to get him to stop hitting the dog house and throwing sticks and rocks at it and trying to grab his ears and tail (they weren't putting all that much effort until I showed my frustration). After they had all gone, with two kids remaining, I approached the dog at his level and gave him my hand to sniff. Oh, he was such a good and happy dog. He came to me with his ear perked up, tail wagging and he sniffed and licked my hand the entire time we were together. I gave him lots of ear and neck scratches and I didn't want to leave (I always get like this... I wanted to bring him home).

He is a country dog and lives outside in his dog house and he smelled of urine. I don't doubt that his owner (who I saw later - he was an elderly gentleman) took good care of him, but I just wished he was more proactive about kids overwhelming him. I imagine that happens on a regular basis every time school kids come on a tour.

Unfortunately after this incident, we had another experience that didn't make us feel very good. We had arrived in Jeju City with a little bit more time to kill before heading to the airport and so we decided to go see a place where you can make rings. But before getting there we ended up seeing a dog cafe. I read about dog cafes before leaving for Korea and decided that we wouldn't go there because there was a lot of talk about resident cafe dogs being mistreated and not well taken care of. These were testimonies from former people who used to work there asking people not to patronize the cafes if they cared about dogs at all. I didn't want to pay and support this type of business and so we had agreed on not going, but we happened upon on in Jeju City and curiosity got the best of me, but I regretted going literally the moment I stepped inside.

This particular dog cafe sold dogs that didn't even look older than 12 weeks. If that wasn't shocking enough, a lady inside the cafe told me that I should adopt one of the dogs. She had adopted from this cafe. I was so puzzled and confused but told her that I am not from here but I have a dog at home that I adopted - a senior dog. She kind of didn't understand me and nodded and said, "Oh I see." We left as soon as we got there.

These dogs that didn't even look old enough to be separated from their litter were being sold. I didn't understand how she could ask me to adopt them. Later Yangkyu's brother explained to us that the concept of adoption is varied in Korea. While there is a strong movement in Korea to educate people in adopting dogs rescued from horrific situations, some people think that buying a dog is adopting as well because they are giving a home to a dog that doesn't have a home. Back in Seoul, we continued to not patronize dog cafes but did happen upon a cat cafe. We'll talk more about that in a later post.

Our flight back to Seoul was a peaceful one. We arrived at night and spent time with Yangkyu's brother family recalling all our experiences. They were not only helpful in planning our trips for us but also eager to hear all about our trip and wanted to see all the pictures we took. It was fun to not only sightsee but also share our thoughts with someone who were all ears and curious to see our take on things (aka  - a foreigner's take).

We are back in Seoul now. Our next post will be about palaces and traditional villages right in the heart of the city.

I hope you'll come back for that story.

Thanks for reading.
 // Travel Korea : Jeju Island, Day 2


  1. Beautiful place Jane! And super sad about the dog cafe but awesome you were able to speak up for that beautiful white dog, I'm sure he was so so happy someone did that for him!

  2. There is one dog cafe in Gangnam that is nice but every other one I've been to is terrible. There's one in Jamsil that had a bunch of puppies, then suddenly there was a new batch. The most famous one (in Hongdae) was fine the first time I went-- they took in homeless dogs, but the second time I saw a staff person choke a dog and vowed to never go again.


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