▲ Darangshi Oreum, located in the northeast of Jeju, near the village of Sehwa, is impressive both for the views and for the history. Photo courtesy Jeju Provincial Government
Darangshi Oreum rewards hikers with not only scenic vistas of Jeju, but also a glimpse into the island’s recent, tragic past.
Located in eastern Jeju near Sehwa, the oreum is a popular hike, and for good reason. Rising up 228 meters with steep sides you can easily imagine its explosive past. To climb the oreum, follow a steep switchback trail that is well maintained and easy to follow. Take your time climbing because the views from the trail looking out over the eastern Jeju coast are stunning and include Sunrise Peak and Udo Island in the distance. The entire climb including the walk around the crater can be done leisurely in 1 to 2 hours.
Darangshi is classic crater oreum Darangshi is one of the notable oreums on Jeju which includes a crater. Reaching a depth of 115 meters, it is similar to the crater atop Mt. Halla and the Sangumburi Crater. Darangsh’s name comes from the moon-shaped appearance of the crater, which is higher on the northern slope. The peak of Darangshi oreum is also known as Wollang Peak. The crater itself is perfectly round; you can imagine it bubbling with lava in the distant past. Though you are not allowed into the crater, you can circumnavigate it via the trail around the rim.
On a clear day you can see the entire eastern half of the island. Numerous oreums pop out of flat fields that are themselves a patchwork of black stone fences. Make a note of oreums to hike in the future. Mt. Halla, the ever present focal point of Jeju, dominates to the west.
Oreum’s serenity hides turbulent past But for all its beauty, Darangshi is also a place of ghosts and tears. Below the oreum, near the present day parking lot, was the village of Daragnshi (also known as Wollangdong). A farming village with a long history, it disappeared following the April Third Uprising in 1948. The uprising is a tragic period that resulted in the death of an estimated 30,000 Jeju residents by government troops. Many island folk were forced to abandon their homes and Darangshi village is one of approximately 84 villages that disappeared completely.
In 1992 a cave was found at Darangshi containing 11 bodies of uprising victims. Hiking the oreum it is hard not to think of these men hiding in a cave while Jeju was in turmoil around them. The cave was carefully excavated and there is a reproduction of the cave and its contents in Jeju’s April Third Museum. It is not possible to visit the actual cave as the area is fenced off.
The village fields continued to be farmed even after the uprising. Local resident and historian Ko Young Ja said her mother remembers staying in the deserted village as a young woman in the 1950s to work in the fields. The workers would stay in the houses near the deserted village that were maintained after the rest of the village disappeared, rather than take the long walk back to Sehwa.
Today the area is still heavily farmed; a testament to the enduring spirit and resilience of Jeju’s people. From the same parking lot you can climb a much smaller version of Darangshi immediately to the east, sometimes called Little Darangshi Oreum. Also a short distance from the parking lot to the south is a memorial plaque marking the cave where the April Third Uprising victims were found.
Darangshi Oreum is located near Sehwa and Sondang village. It appears on road signs as Wollangbong.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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