▲ This is a picturesque site popular with tourists from around the world. Photo by Charlotte Cummings
Oedolgae Rock protrudes 20 meters skyward from Korea’s rolling, swollen South Sea to provide a scenic backdrop for the swarming masses vying to have their picture taken. Digital cameras of every breed can be observed here. As the tripods roll off tour buses and the cell phones emerge from pockets, both photographers and the photographed alike must jockey for position on the crowded viewing platform.
Young lovers take their own photos; an arm stretches out with a point and shoot in a blind attempt to frame Oedolgae behind two smiles. Fathers with DSLRs adjust their settings while arranging their children in perfect composition.
▲ Popular Korean historical TV dramas are sometimes set in this location. This woman is posing as one of the characters. Photo by Charlotte Cummings
To the side, a man displays his collection of oversized, framed prints of happy people posing with the legendary rock. Lurking, watching, waiting, approaching, then withdrawing, he is always ready to preserve perfect memories of couples, families, and school groups with his comically large professional camera.
▲ Photo by Charlotte Cummings
Situated at the intersection of Olle trails 6 and 7, Oedolgae enjoys a steady stream of visitors. The droves move in brightly coloured rain jackets with large sun-protecting visors, walking poles, and North Face backpacks ready to explode their contents. A vendor selling coffee, ramen, makgeolli (Korean rice wine), and tiny bags of tiny oranges provides tables for those wanting to relax in the rock's proximity.
From here a mud path knotty with tree roots curves along the cliff, offering a side view of Oedolgae Rock. It is from this angle that the volcanic formation's mythological face is more discernible.
Oedolgae Rock has inspired many folk stories. According to one legend, General Choe-Yeong disguised the rock as an imposing military general to scare invading Mongols. The Mongols thought it was a monster and committed suicide rather than confront it, thus saving the island. For this reason, it is also known as the General Rock.
In another folk tale, Oedolgae is the wife of an old fisherman. When her husband fails to return home, she cried towards the sea until her body stiffened and turned to stone. Her husband's dead body then floated to the surface to form a flat rock beside her.
Such lore imbues Oedolgae with a magical quality, while its sheer ruggedness inspires countless photographers. If you visit, be sure to bring your camera.
Located at the foot of Sammaebong peak 2 kilometers west of Seogwipo, Oedolgae is a leisurely walk from town or can be reached via Bus 200 or 300. Call 064-1330 for more information.
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