Skip to main content

Jeju Island: South Korea's volcanic holiday destination

By CNN Staff
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Jeju Island, known as the Hawaii of South Korea, is a popular holiday destination.
Jeju Island, known as the Hawaii of South Korea, is a popular holiday destination.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jeju Island, or Jejudo, is South Korea's most popular holiday island with 10 million visitors in 2013
  • It's a volcanic island and home to South Korea's highest mountain, a dormant volcano
  • In 2013 a luxury Chinese cruise ship was detained for several days in Jeju over outstanding lease payments

(CNN) -- The ferry that capsized on April 16 with 459 passengers onboard off the coast of South Korea was headed to Jeju Island, the country's biggest island and one of South Korea's nine provinces.

The island is South Korea's most popular holiday island, attracting 10 million visitors in 2013, according to government statistics.

More than 70% of visitors are domestic travelers, seeking out what has become known as the "Hawaii of South Korea."

The island is well known for natural wonders, including waterfalls, white sand beaches and a dormant volcano -- South Korea's highest mountain -- at the center of the island.

MORE: Insider guide to Jeju Island

April to June is prime time for school field trips to Jeju Island, say Korea Tourism officials.

It's estimated that more than 300 high school students were on the ferry, traveling from the city of Ansan to Jeju for a four-day excursion.

In 2007, UNESCO inscribed "Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes" onto its list of World Heritage Sites, highlighting Geomunoreum, "regarded as the finest lava tube system of caves anywhere, with its multicoloured carbonate roofs and floors, and dark-coloured lava walls."

Jeju Island is one of the world\'s New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Jeju Island is one of the world's New 7 Wonders of Nature.

In 2011, Jeju Island was named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Jeju is also home to haenyo divers, also known as "Korean mermaids."

These women, often elderly, have taken up diving the ocean for abalone, sea urchin, octopus and seaweed.

The volcanic landscape -- 90% of Jeju's surface is basalt -- has given rise to other attractions, such as grandfather stones (dolharubang), massive phallic statues that resemble Easter Island's moai.

The island is also home to the Loveland theme park, dedicated to sex and eroticism.

In September 2013, Jeju Island was in the news after a Chinese luxury cruise ship was detained for issues related to a legal proceeding over outstanding lease payments.

Quick facts

• Located 64 kilometers south of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju is one of nine South Korean provinces and is the country's most popular holiday island.

• Jeju Island is 1,848 square kilometers and has a population of about 600,000 people.

• In 2013, more than 10 million tourists visited Jeju according to government statistics. More than 70% were domestic visitors.

• The capital of the island is Jeju City.

• Jeju's city of Seogwipo co-hosted the 2002 Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup.

• Jeju is 434 kilometers south of Seoul. The flight time between the two locations is just over an hour. Jeju International Airport services regular direct flights to cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing and Shanghai.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
June 11, 2014 -- Updated 0939 GMT (1739 HKT)
The trial of the captain and crew began, with the accused facing the families of the victims.
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 0252 GMT (1052 HKT)
South Korea's most wanted man, who is believed to have ties to the company that operated the ill-fated Sewol ferry, has eluded arrest for weeks.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1909 GMT (0309 HKT)
South Korea's President apologized for a ferry disaster that killed close to 300 people and said she would dismantle the country's coast guard.
May 16, 2014 -- Updated 0323 GMT (1123 HKT)
Here are 7 major factors that contributed to the ship's sinking.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1721 GMT (0121 HKT)
The words and images from the cell phone of a girl who perished on the South Korean ferry convey the rising panic aboard.
May 14, 2014 -- Updated 0556 GMT (1356 HKT)
In one video, the captain of the sinking South Korean ferry scrambles to safety. In another, stranded passengers panic.
April 27, 2014 -- Updated 1456 GMT (2256 HKT)
As the death toll from the ferry disaster continues to rise, yellow ribbons have evolved into a national sign of grief.
April 27, 2014 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
Choi Duk-Ha, 17, is credited for saving the lives of many on the ferry. He later died and is now hailed as a hero.
April 28, 2014 -- Updated 1931 GMT (0331 HKT)
CNN's Nic Robertson reports on the rising anger as South Koreans learn more about the final moments of the doomed vessel.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0314 GMT (1114 HKT)
CNN's Erin Burnett talks to Ship stability expert Paul Roden about whether the cargo lead to the ferry disaster.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1606 GMT (0006 HKT)
South Korea is not only a nation in mourning, but also a country overwhelmed with guilt. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape and distributed life jackets as the stricken ferry began to sink, refusing to wear one herself. It cost her life.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
Such bravery has been conspicuously absent from two major maritime disasters in recent times.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)
South Korean students remember their vice principal, who took his own life after the ferry sinking.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 1930 GMT (0330 HKT)
The captain of the sunken South Korean ferry is defending his actions as rescuers continue the search for survivors.
April 20, 2014 -- Updated 0201 GMT (1001 HKT)
CNN's Kyung Lah reports on suicide in South Korea following news of a capsized ferry.
ADVERTISEMENT