▲ Various soaps, shampoos and remedies are handmade by Hyun Sol at her shop. At right, Hyun Sol and her husband, Hong Ji Hwan. Photos by Tracie Barrett.
Many of those who move to Jeju Island from Korea’s mainland come in search of a healthier, more natural existence and in that respect, Hyun Sol and her husband, Hong Ji Hwan are no different. What does set the couple apart, however, is that their business, a holistic healing center, exists to share that natural, healthy lifestyle with others.
The couple moved to Jeju in August 2009 and into a traditional cottage in Hamdeok that is about 90 years old and formerly belonged to Hyun’s grandmother. “Hyun Sol lived here when she was in kindergarten,” Hong said. The original home had no toilet or kitchen and both were priorities when Hong started remodeling shortly after they moved in. They had to take care of such basic needs elsewhere for their first three months on the island, but Hong said that through such inconveniences, they are learning to be grateful every day for what they have.
A front room of the cottage opens directly off Hamdeok’s main street and houses a small shop where Hyun makes and sells natural soaps, shampoos, lotions and herbal remedies. The cool, pleasantly scented interior is an oasis of calm from the heat and a peaceful haven for locals and summer visitors alike. A rear section on which Hong is still constructing will be the center’s therapy rooms when completed, offering massage, sound therapy, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic therapy, among other health-enhancing options. The couple owned a similar healing center in Seoul but found that the stressors of big city life interfered with their practice. “We wanted to concentrate on just one person at a time but the financial pressures of rent and such prevented that,” Hong said. “The clock of Seoul people ticks very quickly but in Jeju, time slows down.”
The slower pace of the island is echoed in Hong’s building schedule and he says it will be another three or four months before the therapy center is completed. “We came here to rest,” he said, “not to rush anything.” As he works, he saves each piece of the house to be re-used or recycled in some way.
He wants to pass on that sense of relaxation to patients, including many regulars from Seoul who plan to visit Jeju. “I hope the healing center will be a place for people to visit and slow down, but in Seoul that was very difficult.” They have found that “island time” has benefited their individual skills also.
“In Seoul, I only may have known the surface level of this field,” Hong said, “but now I fully understand the core that I spent lots of money trying to understand in Seoul. I now know it naturally.”
“I’ve treated others for more than 10 years,” Hyun said. “Coming to Jeju was treatment for myself.”
She and Hong have a thriving herb garden in their yard that is guarded by a dog they rescued, plus a 200-pyeong (661-square-meter) farm elsewhere planted in organic herbs and vegetables. You’re as likely to find either of them in the garden as in the store if you visit, but Hyun will happily take as much time as is needed to match a soap to each customer’s skin type and condition, or create a custom herbal mix while you relax. The couple’s stated desire to concentrate on just one person at a time is apparent in all they do and this writer looks forward to when they open the full therapy center.
In their own time, of course.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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