The City of Jeju

South Korea > Jeju

August 2013

Jeju City, with almost 450k people, has been the capital of the island of Jeju since time immemorial. It is served by an international airport and the Seoul-Jeju air route is the world’s busiest —  in 2012, seven airlines served this route, carrying a total of 10.2mil passengers. Jeju Island is blessed with natural beauty and this has been exploited by building other tourism-related ventures. As such Jeju is a very popular holiday and honeymoon destinations for Koreans, and lately for foreigners as well.

It’s divided into old Jeju and new Jeju. The old part of Jeju is to the east of the airport and it has the harbour with a lively seafood precinct at the waterfront. New Jeju has more grid-like streets and hosts most of the government buildings. By the way, these interesting figures are in old Jeju, on a river bridge.

Nearby there’s an underground mall, right underneath a major street. A great place to escape from the summer heat and humidity.

This mall has TV complete with seating, most welcomed by these baseball fans. It’s common to find large TVs in public places, a sort of public service I guess.

Out of the mall, there’s a major market. Since I am a market fan, this is a must-see.

So typical of a Korean market. I’ve been to several in other cities, and they are always like this, so spick and span!

The occasional delivery guy rides in with his bike.

Everything is so prim and proper, and yes, this is the fish market.

It is so clean and odour-free too, that you’d have no problem sleeping here.

A market is a good reflection of the local culture, so it is always interesting to visit, wherever you are in the world.

Huge dried red chillies, which is not unexpected since we have seen how big they grow in the fertile volcanic soil of Jeju.

This end offers a bit of meat, which I suspect is pork. There’s actually another market nearby dedicated to meats.

Fresh catch from the bountiful sea, which surrounds Jeju.

Oranges are also a specialty of Jeju — they proudly claim it’s sweet and unique due to the volcanic soil. Sure, we sample a few, but couldn’t tell the difference from, say, the Thai variety. Sorry, but a hype perhaps?

This section sells honeys and some health products, nothing really fancy. But the items are so well-displayed, that you can’t help but stop to admire.

Done with the market, we walk towards the sea, and chance upon this school … with a lone kid running around the field in the baking hot sun. He seems the only one in the compound, and as he approaches me he shouts something (in Korean of course), and jogs along. Maybe he has just told me to piss off. Strange kiddo!

We arrive at a nice esplanade … looking east we can see the harbour of Jeju. Ferries from the mainland arrive here.

And this looks like the ‘official’ Ground Zero of Jeju.

And soon, planes are landing nonstop right in front of us.

Seoul-Jeju is the busiest air route in the world — in 2012 alone 10.2mil passengers flew between these two places. All the seven domestic carriers serve Jeju: Korean Air, Asiana, T’way, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Eastar Jet, Air Busan.

Planes are always queuing to land at Jeju Airport, and this spot makes a great place for plane-spotting.

The seven domestic airlines mounted 70,000 flights between Jeju and Seoul in 2012. That’s about 190 flights per day on average!

At the end of the runway, there’s a seaside recreation area with lighthouses looking like horses. One is red …

… while the other, white. Quite neat.

In the distance Mt Halla (at 2000m) is omnipresent, though the peak is hidden most of the time, some 18km away.

We go inland … Mr Lee, our driver, wants to show us something magical and mysterious. Suddenly we come to a country road, with cars and buses silently passing by, hazard lights blinking.

There’s an ominous monument, and yes, …

… the Mysterious Road!

Mysterious indeed … the road seems to be going uphill, but the cars are moving along quite nicely … with the engine off. How could that be? Some sort of anti-gravity sorcery?

I stoop as low as I can, and observe — the road seems to be sloping upwards here, but why is that car rolling along quietly with no power … freely going uphill?

Soon several cars with dead engines, obviously carrying befuddled visitors, join in the quiet ritual. I’m indeed puzzled.

Mr Lee joins the queue, kills the engine, and presto! … the car creepily creeps ‘uphill’. So what’s happening? Logically, if a car with no engine running rolls forward, then it must be going down a slope, pulled by gravity. If that is so, then the visual of the road sloping uphill must be an illusion. So what’s causing the illusion? Positions and shapes of surrounding objects? On the other hand, if the road does indeed slope uphill, then there must be a mysterious force pulling the cars up. What do you think?

Enough pseudo-science for the day, we tiredly return to our hotel in new Jeju and look for dinner.

Nothing better than a bowl of ramen with clear seafood broths! Hmmm … Mysterious Road indeed. Actually, just now behind our car, as we rolled forward, there was a bus. Soon we realised the bus was catching up on us, and somebody in the bus shouted at us to start the engine and move away … so I guess it was indeed gravity at play, and the ‘uphill’ thingy was just a great natural illusion. Agreed? 😀



6 thoughts on “The City of Jeju

  1. Hi En. Naim,
    My no-brainer theory of the mysterious road is that the cars are pulled by some sort of magnetic field – something like magnetic hill in Madinah. In an attempt to prove my theory I accidentally learned that Malaysia too has its own magnetic hill in Keningau Sabah! 🙂


  2. Salam En. Naim

    Did you book the flight ticket to Jeju yourself? Heard its difficult to book a flight ticket to Jeju from outside of Korea. I’m going there next month. Thanx 🙂


    1. Yes, I booked online here in KL on Jeju Air, no problem. Compare best prices from the 5 local carriers I mentioned in the blog.



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