Dansan, in Sagye-ri, Andeok-myeon, is just meters from a major artery, yet in its shadow the tour buses are silent and distant waves lap in rhythm to the breeze. Locals believe this is a hallowed spot, in the shadow of Sanbangsan.
A pathway skirts the bat-like outcrop. The adventurous, however, nose in the bushes for a clearing and make for the brow, breaking into a moor-like clearing. The bowled inner sanctum protects and encloses, an imposing natural fortress.
Dansan was a fortress, of sorts. Blackened tunnels search deep into the heart of the mount, revealed by torch-lit Indiana Jones-style escapades. Dug to hide arms during the Japanese colonial period, locals also say it was a site of conflict during the Jeju Massacre between 1947-1954.
Upon reaching the summit, commanding views are enjoyed across the coast to the southeast and Sanbangsan, to Yongmeori and the fraternal islands of Hyeong-je Seom. Through the bushes, the small Jeju farms dot their way to the ocean, but contrast with an ancient temple-like building nestled into the foot of Dansan.
The unmistakably Korean structure flies the Taegukgi and boasts ancient trees. Its stained wooden gates are perpetually open and invite visitors in. Met by an immaculate lawn and a four-building structure, the benches offer a perfect opportunity to rest tired limbs and soak up the atmosphere.
Only tweeting birds from Dansan pierce the silence. This is Daejeong Hyanggyo, a traditional Confucian school house from the Joseon Dynasty. Sit down and enjoy a moment of tranquility in the shade as the sun sets on another hot Jeju day.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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