Jeju Island has a rich, cultural history that goes back centuries and contains the stories of 18,000 gods. Prior to its inclusion in Korea during the Joseon Dynasty, Jeju was known as the Tamna Kingdom. Legend has it that the Kingdom of Tamna was founded by three families. Their story is preserved in Samsungheyol (“three family name holes,” in Korean), and Honinji, the wedding site of the three founding couples.
A long time ago, before Jeju was inhabited, three demigods were birthed from the ground at what is known today as Samsungheyol. This celestial occur-rence left deep impression in the ground that can been seen to this very day and which locals say never retain water, no matter how much it rains.
▲ Samsungheyol. Photo courtesyJeju Special Self-Governing Province
For a long time, the three demigods — who were named Ko Eulla, Yang Eulla, and Bu Eulla — roamed Jeju in clothes made of leather and hunted the island’s game.
One day a purple fog drifted in from the sea. The three demigods went to investigate and at the beach they saw a mystical boat emerge from the fog. When it came ashore, an envoy greeted them and presented them with farm animals, five different types of grain that still grow upon the island, and three beautiful princesses.
Apparently, the father of the princesses had seen a mysterious purple aura surrounding Mt. Halla. He learned of the three demigods who were trying to establish their own country, but were terribly lonely. So, the king decided to send the demigods his daughters to be their brides.
The demigods accepted and a memorial service was held at what is known today on the island as Honinji (“Honin” means “marriage” and “ji” is “pond” in Korean). Before the wedding ceremony, the young demigods bathed in the pond. Next to the pond is a cave called Sinbanggul that has three rooms and where the newly formed couples spent their honeymoons.
The new families then took the gifts of grain and livestock and established the first farms of Jeju. They began to trade with other countries, and they decided to each create their own separate governments.
In order to decide where each family would begin their own districts, the three demigods each shot a single arrow into the sky from Sasijanorak. The arrows landed on three different parts of the island: one in Il-do, another in I-do, and the third in Sam-do. To this very day, these areas of Jeju still bear the names bestowed upon them from the demigods that rose from Samsunghyeol.
Samsunghyeol is open April to Septem-ber, from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; November to February, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and March, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The entry fee is 2,500 Won for adults, while children, studentn, senior citizens, and military personnel are offered a discount. It is located within walking distance of Jeju City Hall.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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