▲ Two paragliders from Jeju paragliding School glide across the Jeju landscape after launching from a nearby oreum. Photo courtesy Jeju Paragliding School
[Updated: Oct. 13, 2011]
Jeju Island is well-known for having three things in abundance: stones, wind and women.
The strong winds have made Jeju a popular destination for a sport that is gaining a following here, paragliding, using ultra-light parasails.
The sport relies on manpower to hoist the light-as-a-feather craft and pilot into the sky, providing an experience that is as close to being a bird as mankind has been able to get, even after centuries of trying.
Kim Jin Ok, an instructor at the Paragliding School of Jeju, said, “People who experience paragliding for the first time might feel both joy and the thrill of butterflies, as they fly like a bird through the sky.”
For those not ready to strap themselves solo onto a giant kite and leap off a mountain, tandem flying offers a good alternative. Beginners are strapped together with a trained instructor, after a brief safety lecture. Then it’s off, into the wild blue yonder.
Oreums are a popular launching point for paragliders, providing beautiful views even before take off. The best spots for paragliding in Jeju are Miaksan in Seogwipo City, Gunsan in Daepyeong-ri and Geum Oreum in Geimak-ri. If the wind is too strong gliders can opt for motor-powered paragliding. These can be launched from on high or on the ground.
While most tourists and residents only see Jeju from the ground, paragliding offers a perspective that few will ever glimpse: at least, those without real wings.
According to staff at the Paragliding School of Jeju, a tandem flight will cost 120,000 won for 15 to 20 minutes of flying time (and a five-minute safety course). Solo flights require two to three hours of instruction (safety, take-offs, landings) and cost 250,000 won. Flying time is about 10 minutes.
For more information about paragliding in Jeju, call the Paragliding School of Jeju at 010-7105-2633. At the moment there are no English speaking instructors, so bring a Korean friend to translate.
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