On the road to Jeoji


There was snow visible on distant Halla this morning, but it was bright, sunny and (reasonably) warm in south-west Jeju. On clear days like this, Halla catches the eye, dominating the landscape as it does.


I took my bike out – yes, I have a bike and it’s a nice one, too. It’s been a long time since I’ve owned a bike and they’ve moved on so much; it’s so light, and gear shifting is precise and effortless.

I took the road towards Jeoji, a not-very-exciting village with an oreum of the same name. I discovered some new roads and came across this grave site beside the road, at the foot of Majung Oreum.

I’ve commented on these graves before, and they’re all over Jeju – in fields, beside the road, in villages, on hillsides. They’re traditionally placed in a location close to the home of the deceased, allowing the dead to watch over the fields they cultivated over their lifetime. The grave itself is often in the shape of a dome, surrounded by a volcanic-rock wall called a sandam. You’ve got to do something with the rocks you remove from the fields, or from your grave site, and building walls is to mark boundaries and offer protection from wandering animals is a good solution.

You’re not allowed to bury people in this traditional way any more.

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