Ulleungdo and Dokdo
Located about 130km east of the Korean Peninsula, Ulleungdo is a volcanic island of about 72km2 that is rimmed with steep rocky cliffs and has a basin (called Nari Basin) on the top. It is historically connected with a group of rocky islets called Dokdo situated 87.4km to its southeast, thus forming the easternmost part of the Korean territory. Now guarded by the Dokdo Coast Guard, Dokdo consists of two large rocky islets and eighty-nine small rocks, and is home to about seventy plant species, although most of the islets are barren. It was designated as the Dokdo Seabird Breeding Area and Natural Monument No. 336 in 1982 and then as the Dokdo Protection Area in 1999.
Jejudo(do is Korean for island), Korea’s largest island (approx. 73km from east to west, 31km from south to north), lies in the Korean Strait, southwest of the Korean mainland. The oval-shaped island maintains a rich cultural heritage that is distinctly different from that of the mainland. It is also the only province of Korea where mandarin oranges are grown in natural conditions, providing a great source of income for many households since the 1960s. It was an extremely popular honeymoon destination among mainland Koreans during the 1970s and 1980s, and has since grown into one of Korea’s top tourist attractions, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists from neighboring countries including Japan and China. In 2006, the Korean government designated the island as Jeju Special Self-Governing Province in an effort to turn it into a Free Trade Zone. It is now a very popular venue for important international gatherings including summit meetings.
Jejudo was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions and is rich with the distinctive features of volcanic topography including 368 oreum (parasitic cones) and about 160 lava tubes. This unique natural heritage led to the island’s inclusion on the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2002, World Heritage Sites in 2007, and Global Geoparks Network in 2010. The worldwide recognition of Jejudo as a global natural heritage is expected to further promote the value of the island as a tourist destination and as one of Korea’s key environmental assets.
The Culture of Jeju Haenyeo (Women Divers) was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2016. Jejudo Island is indeed globally recognized not only as a popular tourist destination but also as an “island of environmental and cultural treasures.”
Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano, soars upwards from the center of Jejudo to a height of 1,950 meters, making it the highest mountain in South Korea. The mountain is home to over 1,800 species of alpine plants that select their habitats according to altitude and exhibits great diversity of vegetation. The mountain largely consists of basalt, and slopes steeply in the south and more gently in the north. There is a crater lake, Baengnokdam, at the summit.
Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone, situated at the eastern tip of Jejudo, is probably the most popular tourist attraction on the island. This 182-metertall volcanic peak is said to resemble a huge amphitheater with a deep, bowllike center filled with reeds and rimmed with rocky cliffs. Many visitors also compare this popular sunrise celebration venue, which is now designated as a Natural Monument, with a heavily fortified, impregnable castle or a tall, full-circle tiara.
Other key attractions reflecting the natural wonders of Jeju include Yongcheondonggul Cave, located in Woljeong-ri of Gujwa-eup, which exhibits a unique combination of the characteristic features of both lime caves and lava tubes, the lime caves in Hyeopjae and Pyoseon, and the Gotjawal forests which formed on the rocky areas thrown up during a volcanic eruption. These forests provide natural habitats for rare plants, some of which are suited to cold climates while others are more typical of tropical or subtropical areas. These untouched, densely wooded forests are often referred to as the “lungs of Jeju.”
Source: Korean Culture and Information Service 'Facts about Korea'