Jeju Island

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Jeju Island
Native name:

Nickname: Sammu-samda-do (Island of Three Lacks and Three Abundances)
Image of Jeju Island
Satellite image of Jeju Island
Map Jeju-do.svg
Map of Jeju Island
LocationEast Asia
Area1,826[1] km2 (705 sq mi)
Length73 km (45.4 mi)
Width31 km (19.3 mi)
Highest elevation1,950 m (6400 ft)
Highest pointHallasan
South Korea
Special Autonomous ProvinceJeju Special Autonomous Province
Largest settlementJeju City (pop. 501,791)
North Korea (claimed)
ProvinceSouth Chŏlla Province
County-level divisionCheju Island (further divided into 1 ŭp and 12 myŏn)
Population695,519 (2020)
Pop. density316/km2 (818/sq mi)
LanguagesJeju, Korean
Ethnic groupsKorean, Chinese
Jeju Island
Revised RomanizationJejudo

Jeju Island (Korean제주도; Hanja濟州島; Korean pronunciation: [t͡ɕed͡ʑudo]) is the largest island in South Korea, located in the Jeju Province. The island lies in the Korea Strait, below the Korean Peninsula, south of the South Jeolla Province. Jeju is the only self-governing province in South Korea, meaning that the province is run by local inhabitants instead of politicians from the mainland.

The island was "formed by the eruption of an underwater volcano approximately 2 million years ago."[2] It contains a natural world heritage site, the Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes.[3] Jeju has a moderate climate; even in winter, the temperature rarely falls below 0 °C (32 °F). Jeju is a popular holiday destination and a sizable portion of the economy relies on tourism and economic activity from its civil/naval base.


Historically, the island has been called by many different names including:

Before the Japanese annexation in 1910, the island was usually known as Quelpart to Europeans;[9] during the occupation it was known by the Japanese name Saishū. The name Quelpart is attested in Dutch no later than 1648 and may have denoted the first Dutch ship to spot the island, the quelpaert de Brack around 1642, or rather some visual similarity of the island from some angle to this class of ships (a small dispatch vessel).

The first European explorers to sight the island, the Portuguese, called it Ilha de Ladrones (island of beggars).[citation needed]

The name "Fungma island" appeared in the "Atlas of China" of M. Martini who arrived in China as a missionary in 1655.[10]


The earliest known polity on the island was the kingdom of Tamna.[11]

After Mongol invasions of Korea, the Mongol Empire established a base on Jeju Island and converted part of the island to a grazing area for the Mongol cavalry stationed there.[12]

In the beginning of the 15th century, Jeju Island was subjected to the highly centralized rule of the Joseon dynasty. A travel ban was implemented for almost 200 years and many uprisings by Jeju Island residents were suppressed.[13]

Jeju uprising[edit]

Suspected communist sympathizers awaiting execution in May 1948 after the Jeju Uprising

From 3 April 1948 to May 1949, the South Korean government conducted an anticommunist campaign to suppress an attempted uprising on the island.[14][15] The main cause for the rebellion was the election scheduled for 10 May 1948, designed by the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) to create a new government for all of Korea. The elections were only planned for the south of the country, the half of the peninsula under UNTCOK control. Fearing that the elections would further reinforce division, guerrilla fighters of the Workers' Party of South Korea (WPSK) reacted violently, attacking local police and rightist youth groups stationed on Jeju Island.[15][16]

In 2008, bodies of victims of a massacre were discovered in a mass grave near Jeju International Airport.[17]

Planned Kim Jong-Un visit[edit]

On 11 November 2018, It was announced that preparations were being made for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to visit Jeju during his upcoming visit to South Korea.[18] Kim would be transported to Jeju via helicopter.[18] The announcement came in after 200 tonnes of tangerines harvested in Jeju were flown to North Korea as a sign of appreciation for nearly 2 tonnes of North Korean mushrooms Kim gave to South Korea as a gift, following the September 2018 inter-Korean summit.[19][20]


In November 2020, South Korean archeologists announced the discovery of 900-year-old lost slipway off the coast of Sinchangli. Researchers also discovered bright objects, coins and ceramics belong to the Northern Song Dynasty.[21]


Jeju is a volcanic island, dominated by Hallasan: a volcano 1,950 metres (6,400 ft) high and the highest mountain in South Korea. The island measures approximately 73 kilometres (45 mi) across, east to west, and 41 kilometres (25 mi) from north to south.[22]

The island formed by volcanic eruptions approximately 2 million years ago, during the Cenozoic era.[23] The island consists chiefly of basalt and lava.

An area covering about 12% (224 square kilometres or 86 square miles) of Jejudo is known as Gotjawal Forest.[24] This area remained uncultivated until the 21st century, as its base of 'a'a lava made it difficult to develop for agriculture. Because this forest remained pristine for so long, it has a unique ecology.[25]

The forest is the main source of groundwater and thus the main water source for the half million people of the island, because rainwater penetrates directly into the aquifer through the cracks of the 'a'a lava under the forest. Gotjawal forest is considered an internationally important wetland under the Ramsar Convention by some researchers[26] because it is the habitat of unique species of plants and is the main source of water for the residents, although to date it has not been declared a Ramsar site.[27]

Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff


  • About 2 million years ago, the island of Jeju was formed through volcanic activity.[23]
  • About 1.2 million years ago, a magma chamber formed under the sea floor and began to erupt.
  • About 700 thousand years ago, the island had been formed through volcanic activity. Volcanic activity then stopped for approximately 100 thousand years.
  • About 300 thousand years ago, volcanic activity restarted along the coastline.
  • About 100 thousand years ago, volcanic activity formed Halla Mountain.
  • About 25 thousand years ago, lateral eruptions around Halla Mountain left multiple oreum (smaller 'parasitic' cones on the flanks of the primary cone).
  • Volcanic activity stopped and prolonged weathering and erosion helped shape the island.[28]


Jeju has a humid subtropical climate. Four distinct seasons are experienced on Jeju; winters are cool and dry while summers are hot, humid, and sometimes rainy.

In January 2016, a cold wave affected the region. Snow and frigid weather forced the cancellation of 1,200 flights on Jejudo, stranding approximately 90,300 passengers.[29]

Climate data for Jeju City, Jejudo (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 5.7
Average low °C (°F) 3.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 65.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 12.6 10.3 11.2 10.0 10.4 11.8 12.5 13.5 10.8 7.0 9.3 10.8 130.2
Average relative humidity (%) 65.3 64.9 64.9 66.5 70.4 76.8 78.3 76.5 73.7 66.9 65.1 65.1 69.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 70.4 105.4 158.9 194.4 211.9 170.9 195.6 195.6 161.7 178.5 126.0 84.8 1,854.1
Source: Korea Meteorological Administration[30]
Climate data for Seogwipo-si, Jejudo (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 10.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 6.8
Average low °C (°F) 3.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 61.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 10.3 9.5 11.0 10.5 10.7 12.9 14.3 14.2 10.3 6.1 7.4 8.1 125.3
Average relative humidity (%) 62.8 62.1 62.4 64.5 69.9 78.2 84.1 79.0 72.5 63.9 63.2 62.2 68.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 152.2 152.6 174.0 190.9 199.0 144.2 142.1 184.2 176.1 207.1 170.5 161.8 2,054.7
Source: Korea Meteorological Administration[31]


Tourism is an important component of the local economy. The island is sometimes called "South Korea’s Hawaii". Tourists from China do not require a visa to visit Jeju, unlike the rest of South Korea, and in the 2010s have started visiting on specialised package tours to acquire a South Korean driver's license; the test is similar to that in China, but can be completed in less time and is easier, application and test forms are available in many languages, and a South Korean license, unlike a Chinese license, makes the holder eligible for an International Drivers License.[35]


Tourists in Jeju

Jeju Island is home to pristine nature and exquisite beaches.

In 1962, the South Korean government established the Korean National Tourism Corporation (KNTC) to monitor and regulate internal and external tourism and it was later renamed to the Korean National Tourism Organization (KNTO).[36] While Korea lacks abundant natural resources, tourism is an entity that generates income nationwide for South Korea. In Jeju-do province, specifically, tourism has proven to be beneficial and has been a growing contributor to the economy.[2] Jeju Island often compared to that of Hawaii, “is the winter destination for Asian tourist seeking warm weather and beautiful beaches.”[37]

The island is home to 660,000 people but hosts 15,000,000 visitors per year.[38] English is not widely spoken in Jeju and as a matter of fact, “the local dialect is different enough from Korean that it is recognized as a distinct language.”[39] “Until recently, Chinese travelers accounted for 80% of foreign travelers,”[39] however, due to the installation of THAAD (The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system in Korea, Chinese travel has dwindled drastically. “THAAD is supposed to shield against North Korean missiles”[40] however China views it as a security threat. Though in the past year [2017] tourism has declined sharply, visits to Jeju continue to be a vacation destination for Asia. There are no visa requirements for visitors staying up to 90 days[2] and future plans to build a second international airport have been discussed. Due to the decline of visitors caused by China's travel ban to Korea due to the concern of THAAD, talks and discussions continue to be held regarding a second airport to service over 45 million people with an anticipated completion by 2035.[39] The current Jeju International Airport is crowded, as it was designed to service 26 million people but services “30 million, which is 4 million more than it was designed to handle.”[41] The current desire of the existing Jeju International airport includes wanting to add more direct flights, nonstop to major cities including Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei.[2]

Beach on Jeju

While the economy booms with foreign travel, residents suffer negative repercussions of Jeju tourism. “Most commercial facilities are owned by foreigners and major companies.”[39] and in addition to increasing tourism, problems such as beach pollution, traffic, and overconsumption of underground water present a problem.[39]

Residents and tourists alike love the nature of the Island. It has three UNESCO World Heritage sites, is “packed with museums and theme parks and also has horses, mountains, lava tube caves, and waterfalls with clear blue ocean lapping its beaches.”[2] The Haenyeo (Jeju female divers) harvest oysters, abalone, clams, seaweed and other marine life and their history are showcased at the island's Haenyeo museum.[39]

Due to extensive tourism the pollution of beaches has become a serious problem. The local government of Jeju aspires to be carbon-free by 2030.[39] “Nearly half of all-electric cars in South Korea are registered in Jeju”[39] and the island takes pride in their small piece of paradise.

In addition to the aspirations of an additional airport and the expansion of tourism on the island, Jeju is home to a small technological hub. In 2005, the Jeju Science Park was created, a complex for technology companies and organizations. Since its implementation, it has attracted 117 IT and biotech companies and is home to the Daum Kakao Corporation headquarters.[42]

Jeju is one of the most popular surfing spots in Korea, and it is also the birthplace of Korean surfing. Some famous beaches are Weoljung Beach and Jungmun Beach. The latter is home to the first surfing club in Korea, established in 1995.[43]


Places of interest[edit]

Seongsan Ilchulbong or "Sunrise Peak"


The island's power grid is connected to mainland plants by the HVDC Haenam–Cheju, and electricity is also provided by generators located on the island. As of 2001, there were four power plants on Jeju, with more under planning and construction. The most notable of these are the gas-fired generators of Jeju Thermal Power Plant, located in Jeju City. The present-day generators of this plant were constructed from 1982 onwards, replacing earlier structures that dated from 1968.[44] As elsewhere in Korea, the power supply is overseen by the Korea Electric Power Corporation, or KEPCO.

In February 2012, the governor of the state of Hawaii (USA), Neil Abercrombie, and the director of the Electricity Market and Smart Grid Division at the Korea Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Choi Kyu-Chong, signed a letter of intent to share information about Smart Grid technology. The Jeju Smart Grid was initially installed in 6,000 homes in Gujwa-eup and is being expanded. South Korea is using the pilot program of the Smart Grid on Jejudo as the testing ground in order to implement a nationwide Smart Grid by 2030.[45]


The island is served by Jeju International Airport in Jeju City. The Seoul – Jeju City air route is by a significant margin the world's busiest, with around 13,400,000 passengers flown between the two cities in 2017.[46] Other cities that have flights to Jeju are Daegu, Busan, Gunsan and Gwangju.

Jeju is also accessible from Busan by ferry.[47] The travel time is between 3 and 12 hours.

The island has a public bus system, but there are no railways on the island.[48] A rail tunnel to the island, linking it to the Korea Train Express network has been proposed but is currently on hold due to cost concerns and local opposition in Jeju, who are aware of an eventual loss of their indigenous traits.[49]

Cheju/Jeju Naval Base[edit]

In 1993 the Republic of Korea (ROK) began planning a naval base on Jeju Island. Construction started in Gangjeong village in 2007, with planned completion by 2011.[50] The base was designed to be a mixed military-commercial port similar to those in Sydney and Hawaii, that could accommodate 20 warships and 3 submarines, as well as 2 civilian cruise ships displacing up to 150,000 tons. Its official name is the Jeju Civilian-Military Complex Port. Jeju residents, environmentalists, and opposition parties opposed the construction[51] claiming that environmental hazards will damage the “Island of Peace” designated as such by the government.[52] The protests caused delays in the construction. The base was completed in 2016.[53]


In 2002, scarlet fever was reported to be in Korean children in the Jeju Province.[54] Scientists have been doing research on the matter by creating an age-period-cohort (APC) analysis to back up their relevant hypotheses regarding this emerging outbreak. The Korean National Health Insurance Service analyzed this data from the nationwide insurance claims. Their calculations of the crude incidence rate (CIR) and applying the intrinsic estimator (IE) for age and calendar groups revealed that a total of 2,345 cases of children had the fever that was one of the top illnesses. It also led to the discovery that children aged 0–2 were most common with the fever and that it was mostly boys than girls that carried it. The CIR decreased with age between 2002 and 2016 and the age period effect decreased in all observed years. The IE coefficients validating a cohort effect went from negative to positive in 2009. To this day, none can explain how these children of the Jeju Providence had scarlet fever, but results suggest that it might be explained through the cohort effect. Further descriptive epidemiological studies are needed to test children that are born after 2009, whether they have the fever or not.

Studies show that Jeju Province is recorded as the region showing the highest incidence of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) in South Korea.[55] Just like the scarlet fever, the goal of this study was to determine the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of SFTS patients in Jeju Province. The data that was collected on this situation were obtained by the Integrated Diseases and Health Control System of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDCIS). 55 residents of Jeju were selected to test the criteria at KCDCIS and confirm the cases of SFTS with a residence listed in Jeju Province at the time of diagnosis, between July 16, 2014 and November 30, 2018. Results show that of the 55 confirmed cases of SFTS, the case fatality rate was 10.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 4.1 to 22.2). The most common symptoms of the SFTS were severe fever, myalgia, and diarrhea. There have been fatality rates of 83.6% (95% Cl, 71.2 to 92.2), 45.5% (95% Cl, 32.0 to 59.5), and 40.0% (95% CI, 27.0 to 54.1). This particular study from 2014 to 2018, has been proven to have a lower case fatality rate and a lower incidence of severe fever, myalgia, and confusion than that of the cases nationwide of 2013–2015.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°23′N 126°32′E / 33.38°N 126.53°E / 33.38; 126.53