Sanji Lighthouse occupies a high vantage point on the side of Sarabong peak near Jeju Port in Jeju City. Since it was first lit in 1916, it had solemnly protected the northern sees of Jeju, but now it is being reborn as a cultural complex for local residents and tourists.
In October 2019, the Jeju Maritime Management Division under the Busan Regional Office of Oceans and Fisheries converted Sanji Lighthouse from a manned facility to an unmanned facility in line with the trend of automation. As a result, the position of lighthouse keeper, who had resided in Sanji Lighthouse for 100 years, was abolished, and facilities such as the lighthouse keeper’s residence became obsolete.
The consensus in the local area suggested that, since the open space around Sanji Lighthouse is a popular walking trail among locals and tourists and comprises a tourist destination in the old city, it should be used as a cultural space rather than being permanently closed. Sanji Lighthouse offers a perfect overview of Jeju Port, which services as “the gate to Jeju,” the nearby seas, and the historical quarter of Jeju City. At night, it also offers a stunning night view of hundreds fishing boats that adorn the pitch-black sea with iridescent lights.
The Jeju Maritime Management Division and the Jeju-si Geonip-dong Urban Regeneration Site Support Center concluded an MOU in November 2020 to utilize the idle space around Sanji Lighthouse as a new maritime cultural space, heralding a new chapter for Sanji Lighthouse. The Geonip-dong Urban Regeneration Site Support Center has been performing renovation works on the lighthouse keeper’s residence, lighthouse office and auxiliary buildings from early this year, eventually opening Café Waves, a cultural space for exhibitions, performances and other cultural events, in September this year.
Café Waves is divided into two buildings. One is a café and independent bookstore that offers tea and books, while the other has been arranged as a tea-drinking space and exhibition area. The café is an eco-friendly venue that does not use single-use cups or straws. For takeout, customers must bring their own cups or rent and return cups from the café. The bookstore within the café covers topics such as maritime affairs, the environment, ecology and Jeju Island, as well as picture books for adults and eco-friendly goods. The books are arranged and displayed in each room by theme.
The other building has been decorated as an exhibition space where visitors can admire artwork while enjoying tea. Each room is equipped with tables and chairs set at spacious layouts so that visitors can enjoy the exhibitions without disturbing those who are drinking tea. Currently, the exhibition space displays photos by the late photographer Ko Young-il, who captured black-and-white photographs of children joyously playing in Jeju from the 1950s to 80s.
Outside the buildings, there is a neatly-arranged garden that offers a clear view of the Jeju seas. The planner and manager of Café Waves, Kim Gyo-hyeon, commented, “We plan on showcasing a new exhibition every month or two, as well as various performances and environmental campaigns using the outdoor garden and our exhibition spaces, which will comply with COVID-19 infection control measures.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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