We had our Fall Conference in the historic city of Gyeongju and this past weekend Fulbright had its Spring Conference hosted on Jeju Island, often referred to the “Hawaii of Korea” (although the palm trees are actually imported). It was a very long weekend. We arrived in Jeju Friday afternoon. From Gwangju there’s a small international airport which offers a 1 hour flight to Jeju. Much more convenient than the ferry.
On a side note, there was hardly any security at the airport! I was entertaining the idea of getting a caffeinated beverage, and asked if there was a place to buy something on the other side of security. I was informed that I could just get it now and bring it through security. Wait, what!?! Bring a liquid through security and onto a plane?! Felt like I was back in 2000… I happily bought a caramel macchiato (a new-found love) and sipped it right up to take-off.
We spent all of Friday inside going through training seminars and various lectures. While beautiful blue skies taunted us from the windows, we spent practically the entire Saturday listening to presentations by Fulbright researchers. Fulbright has two main grants: ETA (English Teaching Assistant) grants and research grants for undergraduate through post-doctorate level scholars. This was my first meeting the Fulbright researchers and hearing what they’ve been working on. If you want to find out more about their research, the Fulbright Alumni Relations Association has been doing various interviews with ETA and Alumni alike.
I was told that in past years there was more time to explore, however due to budget restrictions, instead of getting Monday off, things were cut short. Thus the full day tour scheduled for Sunday was made half day. We did get some time on late Saturday afternoon and Sunday after the tour to some of our own exploring. I also got my photo with the famous Jeju guardians, dol hareubangs (돌 하르방), also comically referred to as the “penis men” because of their phallic appearance and their association with good fertility and the myths that touching it will guarantee a male offspring. They have become the mascot of the beautiful island.
I was told that in past years there was more time to explore, however due to budget restrictions, instead of getting Monday off, things were cut short. Thus the full day tour scheduled for Sunday was made half day. Still we were able to see Seongsan Ilchulbong and Jusangjeolli.
Seongsan Ilchulbong/Sunrise Peak
With a crater 600m in diameter and 90m high, and 99 sharp rocks lining the rim, Seongsan Ilchulbong is viewed as the literal crown of Korea. Formed by hydrovolcanic activity 5,000 years ago, this UNESCO Heritage Site is home to six rare plant species and magnificent sunrises. Ranked No. 1 on CNN’s list of “50 Beautiful Places to Visit in Korea,” Seongsan Ilchulbong has served as the backdrop for numerous Korean films and dramas. A well developed trail leads up the side of the peak and will take 20-30 minutes to walk up. From the top there are fantastic views of the town below and geological formations on the mainland caused by years of volcanic activity.
The Jusangjeolli pillars were formed when lava from Hallasan erupted into the sea 200,000 years ago. Hexagonal in appearance, geologists state the stress of changing temperatures caused the shooting lava to immediately cool and solidify into the shapes seen today. Jusangjeolli runs for over 2km along the Daepo coast and hosts waves over 20 meters tall. The Jusangjeolli cliffs are a popular spot for fishing and have been designated an official natural monument.