▲ The guesthouse offers free breakfast in addition to very large wooden beds in all the dormitories and rooms. Photo courtesy Jeju Springflower Guesthouse
In Moseulpo, near the end of Olle Course No. 10 and within walking distance of the docks for ferry rides to Marado and Gapado, sits the Jeju Springflower Guesthouse. Run by husband and wife team Dean Brown (a 28-year-old from Bolton, England) and Seoul native Lee Choon Wha (Choon Wha translates to springflower in English), Jeju’s only Western-owned guesthouse opened in March of this year.
Tell us about your background.
Dean: In Korea, I spent one year in Ansan and two years in Anyang (both Gyeonggi-do) and moved here at the end of February 2011. I came to Korea as an English teacher. I had a good job in England, [though] very soul crushing. I was a debt collector for an electricity company. I looked for something different and ended up in Korea.
Lee: My last job was an art and culture festival producer. [During] Dean’s first year, we met in Ansan, in a Western bar. First we just wanted to be friends; Dean taught me English, I taught Korean to Dean.
Last year, I came to Jeju and for 33 days, walked Olle. [Each] day, I loved Jeju more and more. Then I decided, I will live in Jeju and wanted to make a home in a guesthouse. So, when I came back to the mainland, I told Dean. Then Dean proposed to me. After much thought, I said OK.
What is the aim of the guesthouse?
Lee: The important point is communication... It’s a clean house, comfortable, and we bought the biggest and best wood beds and everything that comes with it.
Dean: The aim is to have a comfortable experience. Everyone here gets a good night’s sleep, so they can wake up and enjoy the next day. That is what we are looking to do.
Why did you choose this location?
Lee: The most beautiful Olle course is No. 10, and [the location] must have a bus stop station and some stores. Most importantly, the house looks beautiful, 30 years old, all wood, natural style. Bits of wood and glass in the door are original features, which you do not get in Korea anymore.
This location has good restaurants, banks, traditional markets and saunas, everything you need, still rural, but with a hospital. It is enough. We can walk, we can find everything, important to a guesthouse and us, too.
What type of people stay here?
Lee: Fifty percent are those doing the Olle course. Of those, women [make up] 70 percent, (many alone) and then we get men, couples, sometimes families and big groups.
Of the other 50 percent, 30 percent are hiking not on Olle, 20 percent are touring or have a rent-a-car.
How is this guesthouse different than any other on Jeju?
Dean: We are the only Western-owned guesthouse on Jeju. We receive a lot of business from foreigners, they look and see that guy speaks English; therefore, [they say] I will stay there. Lee: I think at the Jeju Information Center, they can speak in English, but [don’t provide] good information. We give good information for foreigners. Communication is very important to help clear their minds.
▲ Lee Choon Wha and Dean Brown are proud proprietors of a guesthouse in Moseulpo, Seogwipo City, at the end of Olle Course No. 10. Photo courtesy Jeju Springflower Guesthouse
How do you see yourselves in the future?
Dean: We are due a baby in six weeks… Maybe in a few years, go to university to learn more Korean. At some point go to England for awhile, until then, much as we are now. The teaching may drop off by the wayside, it may not. Lee: I want to study more, get an MBA because my job before was a festival planner. I want to plan a worldwide festival in Jeju. It’s my dream.
What do you love about Jeju?
Dean: The great motorbike riding, swimming in the sea, salty sea air living next to the harbor, and the views. How people are more relaxed and how kids are not so cooped up here. Lee: Same, but I like to relax, the comfortable life, no bali bali [hurry, hurry]. I like the slow life. Maybe if we lived on the mainland, I think Dean and I would be [arguing] more. Here we relax more, when I stress, I go to the seaside or my secret garden... and hear the natural wind sound.
As a business owner what are some things you feel can be improved about Jeju?
Dean: As a business owner in the tourism industry, I would like the government to put numbers on every single bus. Putting every single bus stop in English would not be a bad idea. Putting a number on every bus so people know where they are going would not be difficult or expensive. That’s something that really annoys me. Maybe greater subsidies for tickets off the island. There’s a small discount for airfare, but it could be greater. The added expense of living here could be negated. Lee: More English information in Jeju. Just speaking English is not enough. Dean: I can understand people in museums or restaurants not speaking English, if I was Korean and I went to Britain or Germany I would not expect people to speak Korean to me. [However] every time I called the Jeju Tourism Information Line, there is usually no one there that speaks English. That should not be the case for a place that promotes itself as an international tourist destination.
Where do you suggest visitors go when they stay at Springflower?
Dean: Olle Course No. 10, Hallim Park, Jeoji Glass Castle, Songaksan and Sanbangsan together, Gapado and Marado together, Tansan Ocheon (hot springs complex). Also, Jeju Art Park, artists colony at Jeoji. Beaches: Hyeopjae, Hwasun, and then Jungmun. Lee: Food, the Daejeong seafood street. It’s caught in the morning and served up in the evening. Most of the restaurants own a fishing boat. If they want seafood, go down there. If not, there’s four gogi guksu restaurants. Sanbang Sikdang, spicy cold noodles, best restaurant in town but only open until 6 p.m.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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