▲ Jeoji Oreum is encircled by not one but two hiking paths, and both lead to a pleasant afternoon outing with spectacular views. Photo by Colleen Hyde
Jeoji Oreum is an excellent hike to see the wilder side of Jeju. Rising 104 meters above Jeoji Village in southwestern Jeju Island, to a height of 239 meters above sea level, the oreum is unique in that it is a richly forested. In 2007 Jeoji Oreum won the Grand Prize for the Korean Beautiful Forest competition and a visit to the crater will show visitors why. While many of Jeju’s oreums have planted trees and lots of open grassy spaces, this one has a denser and wilder forest with a wide variety of trees and plants.
Oreum offers hiking choices
It’s an easy hike with huge rewards. The hiking trail is basically two connected rings: one ring around the middle of the oreum and the top ring around the edge of the crater. The steps and paths are well maintained and many of the trees and plants are labeled. The 2.8 km course starts with a short climb up to the first ring level.
Hikers have a choice to make a full circle of the middle height of the oreum or to continue immediately to the top ring. The middle trail is a relaxing loop around the oreum sheltered beneath the trees. After completing the middle trail hikers can make the easy climb up the stairs to the top.
The top ring trail goes along the edge of the crater. This trail is again densely forested but in some places it is possible to have glimpses into the 62 meter deep crater. The crater itself is closed to the public and indeed it is so steep and heavily vegetated that it would be impossible to enter.
Instead hikers can happily walk along the top and know that the mysterious crater and its inhabitants are protected. Rest assured that a last bit of wild Jeju is being preserved. But the top ring trail doesn’t leave everything to the imagination – the highest points afford panoramic views of southwestern Jeju and nearby oreums.
Jeoji Oreum is also known as “Dakmoreu” Oreum and this appears on some of the local signs. Dakmoreu is an old name for the village of Jeoji nearby and referred to an old Korean word for paper. The oreum is sometimes even known by a third name of “Sae” Oreum. “Sae” is a word for rope used in making the roofs of traditional houses and may refer to the fact that materials used in the making of rope could be found on the oreum. Most frequently though it is known simply as Jeoji Oreum.
Jeoji Oreum dominates the surrounding landscape and it is no surprise that it is also a spiritual focus for Jeoji village. Near the parking lot on the northeast slope is a Shaman ritual site called Heorit Dang. This active ritual site is marked with signs and monuments and you can see the altar for the offerings. Shamans still hold kuts (rituals) to the local gods of Jeogi village and oreum.
▲ A statue of Jeju calligrapher Hyun Byung Chan greets visitors to the Jeoji Artists’ Village, a trip to which can easily be combined with climbing Jeoji Oreum. Photo courtesy Jeoji Artists’ Village.
Oreum included in Jeju Olle course 13
Jeoji Oreum is also part of Jeju’s Olle course 13. Olle courses highlight the natural beauty of Jeju island and Jeoji is rightly included. Note that the Olle trail is marked with blue and yellow ribbons, blue arrows and with Olle trail maps. Be aware that the Olle course does not include the entire oreum trail and does not return to the same starting point. The Olle course only includes half of the middle ring and leaves the oreum on a trail directly opposite the trail that it started up the oreum.
It takes about one to two hours to hike the oreum. Jeoji Oreum is located on the edge of Jeoji village and has two main trail heads. Both are an easy walk from the village and there are signs for both Jeoji Oreum and for Olle course 13. Some of the signs refer to it as Dakmoreu Oreum. Jeoji village also contains the Jeoji Artist Village with a modern art museum and artists in residence. Stroll around and enjoy the Artist Village’s outdoor sculptures. For more information on Jeju Olle courses go to their Web site: www.jejuolle.org/eng/.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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