▲ Directly east of Sarabong is Byeoldobong Oreum, accessible by walking trails between the two. A popular walk through the park is the seaside cliff trail from Sarabong to Byeoldobong. Photo by Colleen Hyde
Not all oreum hikes involve driving to the nether reaches of the island. Some are nearly as close as the local Family Mart.
Sarabong Park is located on the northern shore of Jeju City, and provides great hiking within the city. Rising above eastern Jeju City, Sarabong Oreum towers 148 meters over the Jeju harbor and ferry port.
Sarabong is perhaps best known though for its spectacular sunset viewing. The sunset as seen from Sarabong is even considered one of the top 10 views on Jeju Island. Mangyang Pavilion at the top is a prime location for watching the sun set into the sea.
Karissa Bryant, an English teacher in Jeju City and frequent Sarabong visitor, feels that "the views are breathtaking from every point, especially at sunset."
Directly east of Sarabong is Byeoldobong Oreum, accessible by walking trails between two. A popular walk through the park is the seaside cliff trail from Sarabong to Byeoldobong.
Though not as visited as Sarabong Oreum, it is definitely worth the short hike to the top. Trails go up both the east and west slopes to a treeless top with 360 degree views of the sea and the island.
Sarabong's Sanji lighthouse is also a popular destination in the park. It was built in 1917 and was the first manned lighthouse on Jeju Island. This classic white lighthouse presides over sweeping views of the sea and the city. Directly behind the lighthouse is Sara Temple.
Sarabong also has ties to a famous Jeju historial figure, Kim Man Deok, a beloved female doctor hailing from a wealthy family. When Jeju people were starving in 1794 she sold all her estate to feed them. The Korean king heard of her charity and offered her a job in his palace. After working at the palace she returned to Jeju and was buried there. Kim's grave is located in southern Sarabong park at Mokchungsa Temple.
▲ Sarabong is touted as the best place on Jeju to catch the sunset. Quite a boast for an island with miles of west-facing shoreline. Photo courtesy Jeju Provincial Government
The park is also the site of one of Jeju's most important yearly shaman rituals, the Youngdeung Gut, which is performed each spring by shamans on the eastern side of Sarabong Oreum. The ritual is held to say farewell to the Jeju sea gods that are important to the haenyeos (women divers) and fishing community.
In more recent Jeju history, Sarabong was used by the occupying Japanese army in World War II as an underground fortress. At the top of the oreum next to the gazebo is a fenced- off entrance to one of the Japanese tunnels. The Japanese built the underground tunnels in case of invasion by the Allied forces. Today the oreum is a peaceful park with only the tunnel entrances to remind us of its military history.
Another example of Sarabong's military history is also near this gazebo, a stone smoke mound designated as Jeju monument #23 that is hundreds of years old. Smoke mounds are still found along Jeju's coast and were used for communication in the island's defense. Since the original city harbor was located below Sarabong this smoke mound was vital to the city's safety.
Sarabong Park is an excellent place within the city to both enjoy Jeju's nature and stretch your legs. Allow two hours to enjoy both oreums and all the hiking trails. The park is located in the eastern part of Jeju City above the harbor and ferry terminals and borders the town of Hwabuk. The Jeju National Museum is nearby.
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