Journey Three / Chapter 42

Busan and Jeju

June 2019

From Busan, the 2nd largest city of South Korea and its busiest port to Jeju - an 'Hawaii' of Korea, the large volcanic island that is the prime destination for Korean holidaymakers.

We arrive to South Korea with on a ship from Fukuoka on Kyushu, Japan. Going around Tsushima islands, we arrive to the busy port city of Busan. We take few days to explore and rest in this lively city that mixes tradition, industry and modern development.

After few days we take a local flight to a nearby Jeju island. Not very famous outside of Korea or East Asia, the Koreans like to explain it as a 'Hawaii' of Korea. Indeed, Jeju is a large volcanic island which main volcano, the Hallasan is the largest mountain of all South Korea.

We jump on a scooter and take a few day long trip around the island. While most of its attractions, including dozens of parks, mazes, beaches, traditional villages, cafes and certain very odd museums look like they focus on domestic young crowd rather than on an international visitor, there are several very interesting features, including underground lava tubes, strange volcanic hills and a peculiar rugged shores.

Last but not least, Jeju is the place of the legendary Haenyeo, the traditional female free divers who spend all their days free diving from their bases all around the island and harvesting a variety of mollusks, seaweed, and other sea life from the ocean. With each dive, haenyeo plunge up to 30 meters deep and can hold their breath for over three minutes. However like many other vestiges of the past, the sea-diving industry has fallen victim to industrialisation, and from their apex in 1960s when there were 23,000 haenyeo women on Jeju, now only only 4,300 haenyeo remain (and only 67 haenyeo under the age of 50!)