Our recent poll on KBC showed that even amongst our Korea-loving membership, fully 60% think Jeju isn't worthy of being included in the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. There are surely a lot of beautiful places in the world (even more beautiful than Jeju), but I think Jeju deserves a second look for a number of reasons.
Most of us who visit Jeju see a few volcanoes and beaches (and a ton of dirty touristy spots) and base our judgement of the island on these. As former Korean Prime Minister Un-Chan Jeong admits in this article, even Koreans don't realize what all is there.
However, when considering whether to include the island in one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, even some unseen aspects should be included in the evaluation.
Here's a recent article in the Jungang Ilbo that covers some facts I didn't know: http://article.joinsmsn.com/news/article/article.asp?total_id=5211041
I think what I was most impressed by on our trip last summer to Jeju Island was the diversity; you just don't have to drive far to get from one scene to something much different. Ten minutes driving up the coast toward Halla mountain, and the entire climate changes. Indeed, the climate is different on each side of the island!
I was quite unimpressed with Jeju Island when we visited many years ago on our honeymoon. We just rode around in a tour bus and saw the standard "newlywed" circuit. But last year we took our own car and visited lots more places on our own. Having done that, I was much more impressed with the place.
So, what do you think? Is anybody ready to change their minds on whether Jeju Island deserves to be a natural wonder of the world? Can other share more about the island that I didn't cover here?
I love Jeju Island and have visited at least annually for the past three years. It is one of the most unique places I have ever visited and has lots of diversity to offer in a relatively small island. It is a special place to me and I would like to see it honored in an appropriate way.
Here are the guidelines for UNESCO and their world heritage criteria: http://whc.unesco.org/en/criteria
From what I read in the guidelines, Jeju would not be one of the top priority places to receive this honor. It is a place of incredible natural beauty but not necessarily a globally remarkable center of human creative genius.
Through the current contest Jeju is being considered not only for it's natural beauty but also it's fragility. The Official New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign highlights and celebrates the beauty of our planet, thus fostering greater respect for the earth’s fragile natural equilibrium. The motto for this campaign is: “If we want to save anything, we first need to truly appreciate it”
From this perspective, Jeju is already very appreciated. It receives millions of annual visitors. And in terms of "saving it", I'm not sure Jeju is on the top priority list. I believe locations like Komodo Island, The Maldives, The Great Barrier Reef, The Amazon Forest, Bu Tinah Shoals, The Galapagos Islands and The Sundarbans are at higher risk and needed more active support.
Contests aside, I still love Jeju and can't wait for my next visit!
We visited Cheju-Do once (2.5 days) -and we both hated the day we spent (wasted >.<) attempting to do "the tourist only" thing ...as soon as we simply calling our own shots (i.e.: wandering off the beaten path) at various landmarks & doing some REAL exploring, it took on an entirely different feel -and we had fun ^.^
I agree: it's a spectacular place -but I personally think the "touristy" stuff needs less inhibitory re-doing (or to be eliminated altogether).
...not until I've checked them both out!
We pursosefully avoided anything that had "museum" in the name ^.^
I'm too smitten by the scenery to spend much time investigating museums when I'm in Jeju. I claim curious ignorance!
However, if you get a chance to visit Gangwon-do, Sam Cheok sometime, there's a really crazy park and small museum that is quite enlightening in what I imagine is a similar manner. It was my visit there that made me question the idea that Jeju had a license on female divers, shamans, sex museums and caves.
I was told about Samcheok back in 2003'ish ...still have not been to the "penis worship park" -but we did explore the caves (the main reason we went) during our brief weekend jaunt in 2006'ish
The park still "beckons" ^.~
Sorry to say but I am part of the 60%. Have been there 4 times at different times of the year and just don't get it.
The beaches are awful, overcrowded and everything seems so "unnatural" to me. Even my favorite sites, see below and actually very cool - literally, has seen the hands of too many people and encroachment of modern society.
I must agree with Vince, there are other areas in the world worth the attention, money and preservation attempts of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World organization. Saving Maldives would top my list.
Geomunoreum Lava Tube System
The largest tube in the Geomunoreum system is Manjanggul. In terms of both length and scale of the entrance, Manjanggul and Gimnyeonggul are among the most internationally recognized formations. Also notable is Bengdwigul, a labyrinth-type cave whose structure is the most complex of any in the world. Other caves that are outstanding in terms of geological value are Yongcheondonggul and Dangcheomuldonggul on the southern coast of Jeju. While Dangcheomuldonggul Cave is quite small, it has a spectacular display of limestone formations. In addition, the limestone structures and geological features found in Yongcheondonggul are unmatched by any in the world.
*The Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes were judged on the merits of their outstanding universal value and met UNESCO’s criteria that a natural site being considered as a World Natural Heritage must ‘contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance’ and ‘be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.’
They did it! Jeju Island was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Notwithstanding the questionable voting methods, publicity is publicity so good for Korea....
Dude you have to go to Udo. It's a short ferry ride from Jeju and it's super cool - a tiny little fishing island with very little tourism. We went to the most nondescript little restaurant we could find and I had my first 문어 (sp?). There's a couple of enterprising fellows who give rides in those little rubber zodiac boats and take you around the island and into a few caves - very beautiful.
I loved Jeju too, of course. I really want to go back and do the mountain climb sometime, but the one time I went was with my wife (then girlfriend) and she was not excited about the idea of climbing the mountain on short notice. Actually we got engaged in Jeju! So obviously I'm biased.
Very cool... Yeah, I can image that Jeju's got extra sentimental value for you.
We actually did get close to Udo on our honeymoon back in 1996; the boat sailed around it, but we didn't get off. Next time we'll get off!