Jeju Island 18/12/2019 : Seongsan Ichullbong (Sunrise Peak)
Sweet is slumber on cold mornings, especially in the sleepy island of Jeju. On the 18th morning, we had decided to hike up the Sunrise Peak, Seongsan Ilchulbong, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Jeju Island’s well known geographical features. It was actually quite near our hotel, but we could not make it in time for sunrise. Even so, the short climb up the extremely well-maintained stone pathway presented us with exquisite sights. A panorama of sea and mountain lay before us, majestic in the quiet stillness of the morning. Steps carved of stone led down to the sea shore.
Seongsan Ilchulbong is a bowl-shaped crater formed about 5,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption underneath the sea. This accounts for the dramatic landscape, full of jagged, rocky outcrops. Situated on Jeju‘s eastern side, the sunrise peak is known have the best view of sunrise on Jeju island. Ichullbong opens an hour before sunrise every single day. Watching the first sunset of the year on New Year day is a particularly popular activity among Jeju’s tourists. It is said to bring good luck.
Climbing down along the stone steps we came face to face with the houses where the Haenyeo (sea women) of Ichullbong live.
They are renowned for catching sea food for a living with only a knife while holding their breath as they dive into the sea. It is a testament to the enduring strength and empowerment of women that these women divers can brave the elements to catch abalone with no sophisticated equipment.
There are women diver shows at 1.30 pm and 3 pm at Ichullbong, but we had other plans, so did not stay to watch the actual diving. However, at their living quarters, one of the women came out and showed us the abalone they had caught, thinking that we were interested in buying them.
The sea shore was strewn with abalone shells, and we took two for the sake of remembering the beautiful Seaongsan Ichullbong.