May is considered by many in Korea to be “the queen of the seasons.” Perhaps more so on Jeju. The peak of spring and the fresh anticipation of summer combine. The verdant trees and flowers flutter and sway throughout the day. Let's enjoy the sunshine and sparkle of May together.
The town of Onpyeong-ri is where Jeju's mythical founders — Goh, Bu, and Yang — and the three princesses of the mythical state of Byeokrang met and married. Their love and the beginning of the Kingdom of Tamna, which later became known as Jeju-do, are inextricably intertwined in this "wedding site", or honinji, where the three couples gave their wedding vows. It is still possible to walk around the romantic spot, one which brings Jeju’s past and present together.
Seongsanpo’s blue sea and the charming white blossoms along its coast give no indication of its sad history. Teojinmok is one of the sites of a tragic internecine conflict known as the Jeju April 3rd Incident, which started 70 years ago. From magnificent Seongsan Sunrise Peak all the way along the northern coast to Hamdeok Beach and beyond, the echos of Jeju’s tumultuous history ring out. Some say they can hear the spirits of the victims in the roar of the waves and constant whistle of the wind. Please give them a thought as you explore Jeju’s natural beauty.
Jeju Stone Park is where the beauty of nature and the culture of Jeju combine, like the tight grip of lovers holding hands. When you walk through the expansive grounds of this park, you will be treated to panoramic vistas of volcanic cones covered in swaying grass and trees, gigantic natural stones arranged aesthetically, and a wide selection of Dolhareubang stone statues. In some cases these stones have been carefully moved to their present location to protect and preserve them for generations to come. Every May the park celebrates Jeju culture and art in a festival focused around Seolmundae Halmang, the mythical goddess who was said to have created the island. In addition to the black basalt rock that makes up the island, another volcanic gift is the thick natural forest known as Gojawal. In May it is lush and verdant and people love to enjoy its cool shade and natural fragrance as they walk through it. A great example is Gyorae Natural Recreation Forest, which is located right next to Jeju Stone Park.
It’s said that 100 different kinds of plants grow on Baekyaki Volcanic Cone, which is where it gets its name. It is also a famous wedding photo location for couples who want to be together forever, like the eternity of the heavens high above them. After a 30-minute walk to the summit, the view at the top includes magnificent Seongsan Sunrise Peak to the east and the summit of Hallasan Mountain to the west. The fragrant forest in the area is pleasant to pass through, as is the spectacular driving course to and from this famous oreum.
This is a great time to be outdoors. The young leaves have sprouted, the flowers are blooming, and the weather is mild and refreshing. You can experience all sorts of Jeju eco-friendly activities. For example, try an extraordinary three-wheeled recumbent bicycle ride under the clear May sky with Hong Bike. Or if an electric kickboard is more to your liking, the flat coastal road is also a perfect route to explore. Inland, there’s the Jeju Rail Bike Park, which has a track that runs through Jeju's natural grassland. It’s part electric, part pedal powered, so be prepared to get some exercise!
In the 1970s and 80s, Jeju was known primarily as a domestic honeymoon destination. Cheonjiyeon Waterfalls was one of the best honeymoon courses of the time. Many thousands of couples have wedding photos wearing nice hanbok (Korean traditional attire) standing in front of these falls. Cheonjiyeon is open until 10 p.m. so if you visit after dark you can appreciate the multi-colored illumination of the water, something you can’t see during the daytime.
Jeju’s night festivals have started in earnest. In May, Jeju Mokgwana and Samda Park are public spaces that are transformed into festive musical and cultural extravaganzas. The Mokgwana Moonlight Concert is held on the evenings of May 4 and 5, and May 20 and 21 in the old section of Jeju City. In the new section of the city at the large rotary just south of the airport is the Samda Park Night Concert, which is held every Friday night from May 11 to July 6. Music, food, shopping and plenty of fun can be had here. All these events are free of charge and family friendly. So make some lovely memories under Jeju’s moonlit sky.
If you’re a fan of shopping, and especially the hustle of traditional markets, then the new Dongmun Night Market is for you. They have extended their regular hours till midnight, meaning you can conveniently do some thrifty shopping after a day out exploring the island. If you’re feeling hungry, there’s more than enough great food on offer here. You can try the fresh seafood (like Jeju abalone), order some grilled octopus, shrimp tempura, or chow down on black pork skewers. There’s rice cake and Jeju Hallabong juice, too. This lively market is full of exciting sounds and delicious smells, so just follow your nose and have fun!
The mandarin orchards of May are draped in white orange blossoms. Hahyo Village, for instance, is drenched in a rich, intoxicating citrus scent. You can try all sorts of citrus-related cooking and eating programs here, such as at its Mandarin Experience Center. Try making a citrus tart, or perhaps a Hallabong citrus scented candle. There are also plenty of cafes like Jejue In farm, that are filled with citrus pastries, cakes, smoothies and teas. It’s all there for you to sample and savor!
Every morning Hogeun Village Hall in Seogwipo City is filled with delicious cooking. Using a Jeju bamboo basket, or chalong, such interesting, colorful, and delicious Jeju dishes like fresh abalone rice balls and barley and white radish pancakes, among others, are made and kept warm. Another chalong-related program is the “Healing Table with Chalong” held at the Seogwipo Forest of Healing (064-760-3067 - reservations are required 3 days in advance). In a chalong basket Jeju local ingredients and menu items are on offer, an experience we recommend you have with a friend. In addition, there is a “Spring Tour Week” event (April 28 to May 13) held at various locations around the island. If you share a picture of your chalong bamboo basket on your SNS channels with the hashtag #springtravelweek #봄여행주간 or #healingtablewithchalong #차롱치유밥상, you can be eligible for a 2,000 won discount. For more information, please visit http://spring.traveljeju.or.kr.