Symbols of JEJU

Hallabong and Haenyo: Jeju Symbols

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!

Worldwide Korea Bloggers say "Choose Jeju!"

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6 Responses to Symbols of JEJU

  1. Reading all your Jeju reports make me want to go! Looks like a wonderful trip.

  2. kimchisoul says:

    I KNOW you gals would love it! You have to make sure you go sometime 🙂

  3. Pingback: A look back at 2011 – part 3 | London Korean Links

  4. Miran Kim says:

    It is so good to see people around world have some interest in our culture. Did you know that the word ‘Haruebang’ means grandfather? It is a Jeju dialect for grandfather. Also, yes it is sad that most of the women divers are over 60 years old and there are rare young ones. However, they’ve commenced some kind of program to teach younger generations to inherit this unique tradition, so hopely we can conserve it.

    • kimchisoul says:

      Hi Miran, thanks so much for your comment and information. It’s great to hear about the programme for younger women divers- I had no idea about this, and hope that it will go a long way to preserving Jeju’s culture and traditions.

  5. Pingback: Bringing Korea Home | Kimchi Soul

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