South Korea // Jeju Island //


Visible from Ilchulbong is UDO (우도), a rural speck of land whose stacked-stone walls and rich grassy hills give it the air of a Scottish isle transported to warmer climes. Occasionally, the nomenclature of Korea’s various peaks and stony bits reaches near-Dadaist extremes; “Cow Island” is one of the best examples, its contours apparently resembling the shape of resting cattle. This sparsely populated dollop of land is a wonderful place to hole up for a few days, and one of the best places to spot two of Jeju’s big draws – the stone walls (밭담; batdam) that line the island’s fields and narrow roads, and the haenyeo, female divers long famed for their endurance.

Other than these – and the diving grannies are almost impossible to spot these days – there are very few tourist sights on Udo. Those that do exist can be accessed on the tour buses that meet the ferries. Usually under the direction of charismatic local drivers, they first stop at a black-sand beach for half an hour or so, which allows just enough time to scamper up the hill to the lighthouse for amazing views that show just how rural Udo really is. The buses stop at a small natural history museum – whose second floor is home to some interesting haenyeo paraphernalia – and continue past Sanhosa beach before returning to the ferry terminal.

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