Jeju Stone Park, Jeju, South Korea
Once upon a time in Jeju, there lived a mammoth-sized old maid named Seolmundae who had five hundred sons. As legend has it, Seolmundae was such a large lady that she used Mt. Halla as her pillow when she slept, and her feet reached all the way to Kwantal, a small uninhabited island off of Jeju. One day while cooking a very large pot of rice soup for her many sons, she accidentally fell into her concoction, simmering herself to death. A little while later, the five hundred hungry sons came home to find this delicious brew and began to consume the pot of homemade mom. By the time the youngest son was served, he discovered his mother’s bones at the end of the pot. All of the sons grieved together and died of heart-break. As a result, the five hundred brothers were turned to stone for their transgression, with 499 of the rocks lining the Yeongsil Trail that runs up Mt. Halla and one rock on Chadwigo Island, representing the youngest brother who found his mother’s bones.
The main theme of the Jeju Stone Park is derived from the legend of Seolmundae and her five hundred sons. Kim Sung-Un, the director of the park, hopes that the park will provide a “historic and cultural space where collected stones [will] express Jeju’s foundation and culture.” The park has been created as a way to incorporate ancient Korean folklore and history into modern presentations that explain and attach meaning to the rocks, soil, trees, iron, water, and lava that are on display in the park.
The park consists of three courses—a total of 2.31 kilometers that takes the better part of three hours to cover.
As you walk through Course 1, you will see various stone figures describing the legend of Seolmundae. The highlight of this area comes about when you approach the Sky Pond, a representation of the cauldron in which the old lady fell. As you walk down the stairs adjacent to the Sky Pond, you will find a tapered waterfall with four levels, representing the four seasons of the year. Just beyond the falling water is an indoor exhibition hall that depicts the history and formation of Jeju via its active volcano past. The first room in the hall is round, and there are nine main displays centered about a 3-D model of the island. Beyond the main room is the Stone Gallery which contains various rare volcanic rocks, lava tree molds, and head-shaped stones.
Thatched houses are the main attraction throughout Course 2. There are eight of these themed exhibits, which include assorted kitchen items, house fixtures, toys and games, a chronology of Jeju stone artifacts, and implements of Jeju life. This semi-outdoor course boasts a variety of ancient tomb replicas, funerary stones, millstones, and dolhareubang.
The purpose of Course 3 is to show how the people of Jeju lived long ago. It will provide the visitor with a look at more practically used thatched houses, a horse-drawn mill and a smoke mound. There is also a very large display of kimchi pots.
It is suggested that visitors wear comfortable shoes, as the majority of the Stone Park is located outdoors. The park is open at 9 AM daily year round and closes at 5 PM in the winter and 7 PM during the summer. Admission is 2500W with a Jeju resident’s card and 5000W without. For further information, please visit: http://www.jejustonepark.com/eng/