This morning we picked up some triangular gimbap for a quick breakfast, then took two buses to the east side of Jeju Island to visit Seongsan Ilchulbong, also known as Sunrise Peak.
Seongsan Ilchulbong is a coastal volcanic tuff cone formed 5000 years ago and is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The aerial picture from Wikipedia showcases it well:
|view from the summit -- towards the town|
|and towards the caldera|
We stopped for bulgogi burgers and fries at a McDonald's with a spectacular view, then headed back to a cove at the mountain base to catch the 1:30 pm haenyeo performance.
Haenyeo are female divers of Jeju Island, known for their strength and determination. Almost all are over 50 years old, with some even in their 80s. They head out year-round in wetsuits for hours at a time, diving up to 30 metres with no specialized equipment to harvest abalone, conch, sea squirt, sea cucumbers, octopus, and seaweed, amongst other things. These are then sold on the coast, generally to be consumed raw.
We watched five elderly haenyo perform a little ritual on the shore, with one lady chanting while the others shook their nets and buoys, before all five got into the water.
They dove up and down in the bay, staying out for up to half an hour. It wasn't until they returned to empty their nets onto the rocks that I really appreciated how hard their work was -- apart from one who'd caught a little octopus, the others had collected only seaweed.
We took the bus back to Jeju City and found a small restaurant for an early dinner of rice with a sweet soybean sauce and kimchi soup.