Like (probably) every other Korean destination, Jeju has its cute mascots. Let’s look at the meaning behind them.
This is a deliciously succulent orange / grapefruit type fruit that grows on the fresh soil of Jeju. Its ‘lump’ gives it a unique shape, and is said to resemble Hallasan mountain, the quintessential Jeju symbol.
The hallabong has been personified as the grandfather / protector character Dolhareuban, usually in the form of a stone statue (made from the famous volcanic Jeju rock).
Its phallic appearance holds the key to a myth: if you touch the nose of the Dolhareuban, you will be granted with a son.
Haenyo (“sea women”) are the real life mermaids of Jeju. These women dive up to 20 metres underwater, and fetch fruits from the sea including abalone, shellfish, seaweed and even octopi. Most are of grandmother age, as younger generations of Jeju women have since sought business or professional careers. Haenyo work hard and are modest and elusive, so it was incredible to catch a glimpse of them:
Again, they have been immortalised as Jeju basalt statues, dottted about the island. I really hope that the trade doesn’t die out, as it is such a unique and magical aspect of Jeju culture, and to me, represents true “girl power!”
So it is Grandfather and Grandmother who guard and represent Jeju, and I can’t think of two better people for the job!
- Here is a great post on Haenyo divers from Alex on the Loose
- Only 2 days left to vote! Vote for Jeju as a New 7 Wonder of Nature 🙂