JEJU CITY (jeju-shi; 제주시) is the provincial capital and home to more than half of its population. Markedly relaxed and low-rise for a Korean city, and loomed over by the extinct volcanic cone of Hallasan, it has a few sights of its own to explore, though palm trees, beaches, tectonic peaks and rocky crags are just a bus-ride away, thus making it a convenient base for the vast majority of the island’s visitors.
Jeju City was, according to local folklore, the place where the island’s progenitors sprung out of the ground (you can still see the holes at Samseonghyeol), and while there are few concrete details of the city’s history up until Joseon times, the traditional buildings of Mokgwanaji, a governmental office located near the present centre of the city, shows that it has long been a seat of regional power. Other interesting sights include Yongduam (“Dragon Head Rock”), a basalt formation rising from the often fierce sea, and Jeju Hyanggyo, a Confucian academy. There are also a couple of vaguely interesting museums, best reserved as shelter on one of Jeju’s many rainy days. South of the centre along the Mysterious Road, where objects appear to roll uphill, is the entertainingly racy Love Land.