Posted by: Matt Kelley | 20 February 2009

Jeju Island Special Feature (Intro)

20090220_shinevilleYes, that’s Korea! We spent a very comfortable night at the luxury resort, Shineville, thanks to my special friend Uikwon’s family.

Last weekend I had the chance to visit Jeju Island (제주도) for the first time in about three years. And though I’d been to the lovely isle once before, I was in the company of my mother, her two friends and about 47 other Korean ajumma (married ladies). Needless to say, I was somewhat distracted by my (lovely) company.

This time around, I was traveling with my buddy Uikwon on an itinerary that was made in great part thanks to suggestions by Sejin, a Jeju-native who channels her generosity into encouraging visitors to get off the typical tourist junket. So, with a carefully crafted itinerary in hand, we were ready to go.

20090220_boatSmall fishing and squidding (?) boats like this one continue to power a large part of Jeju’s economy.

Unfortunately, strangely stormy weather in Seoul cancelled virtually all Jeju-bound flights last Friday. Although there are dozens of daily departures, we were just two of many hundreds who needed to get rebooked. We were guaranteed to leave on a 1:30 pm Saturday flight, but that would have reduced our time in Jeju from four full days to just 2 and a half. 

20090220_onlineThe exhilaration of purchasing airline tickets on Korean travel Web sites is like ebay.

We were eager to try our luck at finding something that departed earlier. Thanks to Korean airlines exhilarating online booking setup, from the comfort of your home you can watch real-time as seats become available for a few seconds before getting snatched up (and, unlike those unpleasant U.S. airlines, there were no change fees… or even cancellation fees, in most instances!). Lucky for us, at about 11:00 pm Friday night, two seats (out of 13 flights!) opened up on Jeju Air‘s 7:35 Saturday morning departure. In about 40 seconds, Uikwon frantically entered our personal and payment info, and after a tense few more seconds of “processing” we were booked.

20090220_nearoreumJeju offers visitors a delightfully different pace from Seoul.

The next morning, we paid 1,100 won (about 74 cents) for the 45-minute subway ride from my house to Gimpo International Airport (I love Korea). Despite dozens of fully-booked flights there were no lines at check-in or through security (I love it even more). After 58 minutes in the air we landed at Jeju International Airport. If the palm trees and big grassy hills everywhere didn’t tell me I wasn’t on the peninsula anymore, the balmy temperature did. After months of subzero temps in Seoul, 18 degrees (64 F) felt amazing.

20090220_jejufeatureA few of the places we’ll visit over the next few weeks as we explore Korea’s wonderful southern isle of Jeju.

Thanks to great company and remarkable sights, our three-day exploration of Korea’s southern-most province was pretty close to perfect. So, over the next several weeks, I look forward to sharing with you some of the many special places Jeju Island has to offer. 

Tomorrow: An 82-acre parasitic volcano is set ablaze as part of the Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival.



  1. Oh, I want to go too!

  2. Yeah, Jeju is great… and very child friendly. I didn’t have time, but there’s a huge chocolate theme park, a teddy bear museum, and tons of wide open spaces to run run run!

  3. hi Matt,

    thanks for sharing the Jeju feature. Can’t wait to go there. I’ll be going to Jeju in from April 8 to April 12. Do you think i can still catch the cherry blossom?

  4. Hi Rahimah,
    Thanks for your note. I think you should be ok, since Jeju’s cherry blossom festival is from the 4th to the 8th. I assume that’s the peak time, so the few days after should also be spectacular. I haven’t seen Jeju’s cherry blossoms, but if they’re anything like Jinhae’s (Korea’s south coast), they’ll be spectacular!

    Travel safely,

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