The happiness we seek in life is in many instances right at hand. It’s like when we spot daffodils blooming in the snow, or the devoted look in the eyes of our beloved pet dog. The little things — those meaningful moments in life — needn’t be momentous to have a positive impact on us. So let's take a look at some Jeju experiences that will bring you this sort of happiness in the new year.
Jeju’s snow-covered scenery is not limited solely to the very top of Hallasan Mountain. Just don your winter gear and discover the island’s winter kingdom at Sara Oreum. This volcanic cone has a deck built for viewing a small lake that fills with the summer’s heavy rainfall. In winter, this ice rink-like area transforms into a charming winter scene in what feels like your own secret forest.
Located on the southern side of the Seongpanak trail of Hallasan Mountain, you can visit Sara Oreum for yourself after a 5.8-kilometer hike from the entrance to the Seongpanak trail. At the marker, the volcanic cone is a further 600 meters. The round trip takes 4 to 5 hours. The wooden deck around the crater makes it easy to explore, but to get there in winter you’ll need to prepare the appropriate hiking gear, including crampons for your boots to maneuver safely along the icy trail.
How about testing your willpower right from the start of the new year? One excellent opportunity to do this is to participate in the Winter Sea Penguin Swim, held annually at Jungmun Saekdal Beach in Seogwipo. They say jumping into the icy water is a great way to wash off traces of the old year and prepare for the new. Even if you don’t go in, though, there are plenty of fun activities and delicious food to enjoy, including the marvellous view at one of Jeju’s most beautiful beaches.
Another way to see in the New Year is by heading out to Geomun Oreum, where from 6 a.m. at the World Natural Heritage Center local residents will serve a traditional new year’s dish of pounded rice cake soup. For more information you can contact the Seonheul 2-ri Office (064-782-5479).
*Please note that unfortunately the Seongsan Sunrise Festival has been cancelled due to the risk of avian influenza.
The remarkable beauty and peacefulness of this place, contrasted with the painful history it commemorates, may bring tears to your eyes. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of an internecine conflict known as the April 3rd Massacre. Many decades later the painful memories remain, though perhaps now in 2018 Jeju stands at a crossroads.
The Jeju 4·3 Peace Park and Jeju 4·3 Peace Memorial Hall were built to honor and remember the victims of this traumatic time in the island’s history. The memorial hall was recently renovated and updated to help teach others about the tragedy that befell the Jeju people. It is the site of the annual memorial ceremony held on April 3rd for family members and the general public.
At an altitude of 1,100m on Hallasan Mountain is an area that many associate with snow-covered Jeju. It’s easy to get to by car or bus, and the nature walk along the eco-trails of the wetlands there is amazing. Around the rest area and its octagon-shaped pavillion, there is a large area where kids of all ages can play in the snow.
Another spot on the lower slopes of Hallasan Mountain includes a horse pasture that turns into a pleasant, expansive snowscape in winter. Be sure to have (and know how to use) snow chains for your car tires if you do go though. Conditions along the mountain road generally require it.
These days, it’s more common to knock down the old to make room for the new. But on Jeju, more and more we’re seeing old buildings like citrus warehouses, livestock stables and old flour mills being renovated into cafes and restaurants after extensive repairs and improvements. These businesses are popular for their rural location and vintage feel. They often make for great photo spots that exude Jeju’s charms, too.
For example, Warangwarang is a cafe in Wimi Village that has camellia and citrus trees, Anthracite Coffee in Hallim is an old flour mill and warehouse, and the Deer Lodge Cafe and the New Jersey Cafe have the rustic feel of their refurbished wood and stone citrus warehouse architecture. Chances are you’re going to love it!
If you want to travel but are worried about leaving your dog at home, then Jeju has the answer. There are accommodations and cafes here where you can travel easily and comfortably with your dog. Take a little trip outside the big city and treat your beloved pet to the outing as well.
These facilities are generally owned by dog lovers, so they know just what you’ll need to make your pet comfortable on the trip. They provide lots of open space to romp and play, but far enough away from others so as not to disturb other travelers. Everyone can enjoy their time on Jeju in this pet-friendly setting.
If you haven’t sniffed a daffodil in a while, here’s a reminder. Its fragrance is very sweet and its resilience by blossoming in winter is inspiring. In the case of Joseon era scholar and artist Chusa Kim Jeong-hui, who was exiled to Seogwipo from 1840 to 1848, these winter flowers gave him strength. You can still find them there today, in addition to Daejeong, Halla Arboretum, and the 500,000 bulb extravaganza at Hallim Park’s annual January daffodil festival.
Hahyo Village is warmer than most because of a warm sea breeze that blocks the cold northwesterly winds streaming down Hallasan Mountain. This village is therefore a very good place to grow citrus. In the winter Hahyo looks like it’s been bathed in orange, for all the citrus orchards and their branches heavy with ripe, delicious fruit. You can also enjoy the warm microclimate around the rugged cliffs and famous black sand beach at Soesokkak.
As this is a mainly citrus producing area, the local foods at Hahyo Village have conspicuously added the fruit into their recipes and products. There are many places that let visitors try picking their own citrus and many shops sell all sorts of citrus food items like orange chocolates and orange peel teas. You can find out more at www.gyulbitsro.com/english/. Also, Jeju Olle walking trail No. 6 is located in this area, affording visitors a beautiful coastal view of Beomseom, Seopseom, and Munseom Islets, among many other stunning natural attractions.
There’s nothing like dipping your tired body into soothing, hot natural spring water while enjoying the view of majestic Sanbangsan Mountain in the background. It’s a small moment, but one which leaves you feeling happy and refreshed. There are many baths in Jeju where you can try sea water or hot springs. Jeju’s water is especially and famously clean, so if you take a hot dip here, you’ll find your skin feels rejuvenated and your circulation has improved.
The Sanbangsan Carbonate Hot Springs and Haemian have open-air baths, while Yongduam Seawater Land, Dodu Seawater Park, Samyang Seawater Sauna, Jeju Waterworld and Haeoreum Haesupia all use seawater and are located along the coast.
A deep-sea fish for a rich, refreshing soup, the poisonous pufferfish has plenty of protein, few calories, and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is thought to be a good hangover remedy and is very popular in Japan. As its flesh is the most tender and delicious in winter, it is especially sought after between the months of October and February. Pufferfish is used in a variety of dishes, including raw, fried in tempura, or in soups and stews.