Jeju Island is literally made out of volcanic rock, and volcanic rock has played a large role in Jeju life in culture. To learn all about it, the best place to go is Jeju Stone Park.
After going through the entrance gate, in the first course you go past the tall stones at the top of this pictures, and then you see the stone piles shown below:
The theme of this section is Grandmother Seolmundae, the spirit/goddess who created Jeju Island, and the 500 generals, which some legends claim were all her sons (hey, if she’s a goddess, maybe she can have 500 sons). The Jeju Stone Park website tells the story of Grandmother Seolmundae and the 500 Generals.
I then entered the Stone Museum, which has the “Jeju Formation Hall” which explains all of the science of how Jeju was created – the various volcanic activities which created Jeju Island, how the caves of Jeju were created, how the oreum were created, how Jeju’s water sources were created, etc.
In the center of this science hall is a 3D model of Jeju Island.
The Stone Museum also has extensive galleries of stones from Jeju Island, highlighting their unusual features and beauty. It really is very impressive – it was hard for me to pick which photos to put into this post. The gallery is accompanied with lots of detail about how different types of rocks on Jeju Island were originally made.
I then went to the next viewing course, which focused on culture – the use of stone on Jeju throughout the ages.
And of course, there was an entire lineup of harubang (the ‘stone grandfathers’ which symbolize Jeju Island).
The upright stone below is the ‘Menhir Languishing for Mother’.
It was impressive just how many meaningful stones they were able to gather together, and the background – partially clear, partially cloudy sky with a few oreum visible – was the perfect atmosphere.
These stones all have some kind of meaning related to Jeju culture, even if I no longer remember the meaning months later.
I do think the stones below are supposed to represent the 500 generals.
There is also a traditional Jeju-style village to explore. It’s not ‘real’ like Seongeup Folk Village, but as far as I can tell this reconstructed village is well-researched.
And of course, the fact that nobody lives in this village means that you don’t have to worry about respecting people’s privacy.
Above is a jug which visitors are invited to lift up. It represents the jugs women on Jeju used to carry water in the old days. Lifting it up ourselves is supposed to help us appreciate how difficult their lives were.
I thought that all of these thatched-roof buildings made of lava rock with that sky in the background was very aesthetic.
There is also an art gallery featuring works inspired by Jeju’s landscape. Photos are not permitted inside. I remember being impressed by some of the artwork, and since I had already seen quite a bit of Jeju I recognized some of the landscapes. In the basement there are the roots of tall trees on display.
In the folk village, there is also an example of a mill which would be drawn by a horse.
I loved this stone park. It brought together an overload of information about science, with Jeju folklore, with artwork, with Jeju’s old way of life, and it tied this all together with the unifying theme of stone. The kind of travel I like is very educational, and in particular helps me make connections between phenomena which I had not made before, particularly unexpected connections. On top of that, I want to see beautiful places and things. Jeju Stone Park does all of that.
It was hard to pick which photos to include in this post and which to leave out, and there are many details of this place which I did not mention in this post. I wish had spent a little more time at Jeju Stone Park, and if you ever go to Jeju Island, I highly recommend that you visit yourself.